Tag Archives: america

This Just In: Nashville is Pretty Freaking Awesome

Nashville AirBnB Welcome to Nashville, TN. Here you’ll find more spangles and stars in one block than you would in the entirety of some other place with less spangles and stars. It’s a city that greets you with an American flag as big as Texas in the parking lot of a church as soon as you exit the highway. It’s a place of soul and of grit, of banjos and fiddles and tattoos and denim wear.

It’s a place where a 6 year old girl can wear make-up if she wants to and you can buy fancy ice cream from Jeni’s that actually tastes like heaven even though you want to roll your eyes that they call toppings accoutrements (soooo #hipster.) It’s a place where bands sing with American flag microphones and bejeweled jeans with makeup like whoah with a 300 pound male lead singer who has a curly haired mullet and a cowboy hat and is actually really talented. In short, Nashville is awesome.

In my first 24 hours here, I’ve had more conversations with strangers, done more front porch sitting, drank more alcohol outside, and heard more country music than I have in any other 24 hour period in my life.

In this city with the 2nd biggest fireworks display for 4th of July in the entire US of A (2nd only to Washington, D.C.), big things can happen and you’re going to talk to other people about it, especially if they’re strangers that happen to be grocery shopping right next to you.

It’s the kind of place that makes you wonder if you should have been a country music star and maybe the kind of place that makes you realize that it’s never to late to follow your dreams.

All I know is that I’m trying to get in as much beer drinking, front-porch sitting, and firefly watching as possible in the next couple of days. That’s my dream, and I’m going to make it happen.

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Dear Lord, Thank You for Casserole

And the people of the Lord gave thanks.

What is like the casserole?

Could any other dish transform tins of canned goods into a steaming meal for prairie mouths, hungry from a hard day of television viewing? Does anything match the poetry of the phrase, “Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Recipe is easily doubled.” Is there another main course as picturesque or heartwarming?

Entire generations have attained greatness by feeding solely off of casserole nectar. Worlds of cream of chicken soup have bubbled and boiled over whole chicken breasts sitting atop beds of rice or sliced roast beef as the casserole’s alchemy creates dinner and a better planet.

As I browse through my cookbook, the endless casserole variation is like a never ending music.

Oh Zucchini Casserole, oh Country Corn Bake, oh Cheese Corn Bake, oh Broccoli Corn Casserole! And the tuna! Dear, sweet, God! The Tuna Casserole, with its 3 cans of Chinese noodles, 2 cans mushroom soup, 1 package of blanched almonds, 2 cans white tuna, and 1 cup of milk. Dry yourselves, my taste buds, for the dinner hour is not nigh.

The casserole gathers canned goods to its glassy bosom, accepting them for what they are as they are combined and layered and sprinkled with corn flakes. A masterpiece of non-cooking, an exercise in the art of assembly, this is Midwestern cuisine at its finest.

Would any church potluck be complete without a steaming pan of Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole? Could the world continue to function on Monday night without a dinner of chicken enchiladas (1 cooked chicken, 1 c. shredded Taco Blend Cheese, 1 packet of Taco seasoning, Sour cream, salsa.) with its instructions to “Shred the chicken. Mix all ingredients together?”

And after being assembled into the tortillas, these proto-enchiladas will lie down on a sweet bed of glass and be smothered with equal parts enchilada sauce and cream of mushroom soup, topped with cheddar cheese in an eternal embrace that will continue deep within the digestive tract of the consumer.

In the kitchens of the Midwest, the cook’s most fearsome weapon is the 9×13 baking dish. The ammunition of choice: canned soup, cream of mushroom or chicken. With these tools, the chef is ready to face a ravenous family, to fight the devil with cheesy potatoes at a church gathering, and entertain the in-laws on the night of the big game.

When almost every ingredient is birthed from a can or a jar, when the objective of the dish is to combine it so thoroughly that one only tastes hot chicken-y, tuna-y, or beefy mush, when an complete meal can be eaten out of a mug, is there any way to go wrong?

Let the casserole state of mind cheese its way between your neurons. Let the open-and-pour mentality soothe your nerves and line your arteries. Life should be a steaming dish full of something that bubbles. It matters not what it is.

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We Can Make America Better

Sunsets can make anywhere beautiful.

I graduated from college on Sunday, May 22, 2011 and one week later I was in Boston Logan International, throwing my sheets away to make weight for baggage and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Within twenty four hours, I was standing in the lobby of the Mayfair Hotel in Cairo, suppressing the urge to cry as I begged the concierge to let me check in without my passport, which I had left at the airport when I was filing a claim for my lost baggage. No possessions and no identity, I was ready to start the year.

Things looked up from there, however. I made friends with people in my program, found an apartment despite the fact I had never been to Cairo and didn’t speak Egyptian Arabic, and never died on the Metro (by asphyxiation) on my way to class.

That being said, Cairo was not an easy place to live for me. My (subjective) opinion of Cairo is that it’s not a great place for humans to live in general. There’s no room for them and the poverty crushes everyone. Though I had traveled before to the Middle East, to countries with dictatorships and to places with poverty (including the U.S.), I never felt it like I did in Cairo.

This was a people that had been robbed of their money, of their dignity, and in some cases of their humanity. The former regime stole billions of dollars, exploited and oppressed the people, and dis-empowered them completely through poor education programs, through intimidation, and through endless lies.

As the year went by, I slowly became more resentful of the city, of the pollution, of the seemingly endless harassment, of the constant nuisances, and at the bottom of it all I was reminded daily that I, through no power of my own, had been born in America to a nice middle class family. I was a walking symbol of power and of global injustice. The fact I carried an American passport gave access to more respect and opportunities than most Egyptians would ever get.

When people in the states ask me, “Did you love Cairo?” or something about the Muslim Brotherhood or if it was safe over there, it’s hard for me to know how to respond because these questions don’t mean anything to me.

I want to talk about a people crushed by the boots of an exploitative government and how repression reflects itself in every social facet. I want to talk about women’s rights and equality in the Middle East and in the United States of America. I want to talk about how ignorance affects political systems in America and in the Middle East (I’m not saying that people who support the Muslim Brotherhood are necessarily ignorant. That’s a different blog post). I want to talk about how violent crime is more prevalent in many American cities than in Cairo.

Usually I come back from abroad slightly more patriotic. I want to kiss the sweet American earth and hug Uncle Sam while setting off firecrackers and singing “God Bless America.” It was the same this time but different.

As I looked at the rows of American flags in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport and listened to patriotic music in the immigration line, I kept on thinking, “We can make this better.”

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Maid of Honor’s Daily Drudge Report

This is before it started raining on our morale.

I’m currently in Chicagoland doing a mediocre job of handling wedding mania and a better job of eating restaurant food. The wedding still doesn’t seem real to me yet, but then again neither does the whole of the United States of America. This is what happens when you live in Cairo for a year. My apologies for erratic blogging and comment responding.

It turns out that all the time I thought I would have this week for innovative and fun blog concepts has been absorbed by family and soon-to-be-family. It’s not a nightmare, but it would be if I didn’t have internet at all. I look forward to being able to update everyone—or not—next week. It depends on where my whimsical flights of fancy fly me.

Sometimes at night I have visions of strange animals. I remember one night in Ethiopia I saw a bat that had the mouth appendages of a cricket or a spider. If there is anyone who would like to interpret this in a positive manner for me, please shoot me an email and address it “Your Wondrous Vision and the Miraculous Signs it Portends.”

Tomorrow is the bachelorette party. This town has never heard so many sassy bachelorette giggles. We’re doing a bunch of secret things for my sister and I think I’m going to wear my new cowgirl boots, which are cowboy boots for girls.

Recently I’ve been thinking that “Supper” would make a fetching girl’s name. I have fond memories of the word supper and think that the syllabalic structure is quite appealing. Speaking of words, did you watch the National Spelling Bee semi-finals tonight? How much would it cost to get one of those kids to babysit me?

I’m listening to the rain on the roof here in Chicagoland and realizing it’s a sound I haven’t heard in a long time. All things considered, rain isn’t that bad. This hotel music, however, is another story, as well as body odor, and eating while you have to go to the bathroom.

That’s the report for tonight. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to update tomorrow after the bacheloretocalypse, but if I don’t, you can count on something for next Monday.

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7 Uses of a Unicorn Carcass

3rd time I’ve used this picture. Gotta stop talking about unicorns.

A message from the U.S. Executive Office of Wildlife Conservation:

Unicorns are a blight on our country. Not only are they a destructive and invasive species, but their very presence is an abomination. Unicorn eradication should be America’s number one priority, second only to starting another war somewhere (Iran!) and eliminating women’s rights.

For this reason, the U.S. Executive Office of Wildlife Conservation has issued a direct order mandating the death of each and every unicorn on sight. No longer will they sweetly neigh their morning songs or gently traipse alongside country paths on pearly hoof. Not one more day shall they terrorize school children by defending nerds and making lollipops sprout out of the earth with their suspicious unicorn magic.

With the help of faithful US citizens and patriots, such as yourselves, these meddlesome unicorns will soon be dead, and ‘round the piles of their motionless bodies shall many a child, mother, and father dance the dance of the victorious. Unfortunately, since current budget restrictions do not allow the US government to participate in the Great Unicorn Corpse Removal, we are calling on countrymen and women to do their part in this effort after they finish the dance of the victorious. We realize this is a rather gruesome inconvenience, but we hope you will soon some to realize that killing the unicorn is merely half the fun.

In order to help you, our loyal citizens, we have spent billions of dollars creating a new department and hiring thousands of employees in pursuit of the best ways to use the entire body of a dead unicorn. We are certain that the American people will once again come through with impressive innovation skills and make some wonderful home crafts while also purifying the earth of this reprehensible paranormal being.

Here are the top 7 uses our experts have found for the various parts of the unicorn carcass.

1. Unicorn horn chandelier: A wonderful project if you’re located in a particularly infested area. The horn is even more luminescent during full moons. Warning: see health risks section.

2. Unicorn hoof ashtray: The pearly finish is sure to go with any décor, especially nursing home and doll house themed interiors.  The ashtray perfumes the room with the scent of a secret midnight garden.

3. Meat: self explanatory. See our website for glitter stew, sparkleballs, glimmer nuggets, and shine steak recipes. Warning: see health risks section.

4. Magic powder: The horn, hooves, and bones can all be ground to create a powder of mysterious magical qualities. Our experts are still studying its properties. Whatever you do, don’t give any to Ron.

5. Unicorn pelt lunchbox: The status symbol of the year. Changes colors with the unicorn queen’s mood, provided she’s not dead. Warning: see health risks.

6. Vest with no buttons: A statement your neighbors are sure to notice. Let the vest flap in the breeze as you sparkle along and leave a visible glitter trail in the air behind you.

7. Halloween costume: Go to your local unicorn taxidermist and have the body prepared as a human garment. Wear it next Halloween when you really want to scare the kids, “Ahhh I thought we killed all of them! I don’t want any more lollipops! Ahhhh!”

Now get out there and do your duty. Start slaying!

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