I stayed out way past my bedtime on a school night and it was so very worth it. I am grateful for good people in the world who support poetry and all arts. We had some good clean fun at The Muse at Industry for the most part. There was one very dirty moment. Sometimes stuff happens and how fortunate that it happened after dark, which is when dirty moments are meant to occur.
Category: thank you for being a friend
Recap: Book Launch By Day for What We Do To Make Us Whole
I was overwhelmed. So. Overwhelmed. I still am.
Growing up, I was awkward and weird and out of place. As an adult, as we all know, part of me still feels that way. There’s always the doubt of people showing up. Part of it is brain on worry. Part of it is based in reality because I have read to audiences of two people. It happens. This time, however, it didn’t.
This is life at its brightest: a room of people gathering to celebrate poetry and art.
My longest friend S of Southpaw Sweets handed me a bag of cookies that have the cover of What We Do To Make Us Whole on them. In return, I cried and called her a jerk. This is friendship.
Collage artist Brian Geraghty, graphic and fine artist ESS NYC, and jewelry maker Mindful Holistics shared their crafts. Dd Spungin introduced us all and shared her love of poetry, too.
So many people contributed to a group poem entitled “What We Do To Keep Us Whole.”
I was having such a great time that I forgot I was selling books until I turned and saw BMc holding money and forming a line of people to have their books signed. A huge thanks also for recording it all.
Poets showed up. Musicians showed up. Makers showed up. Supporters showed up. Oh! And some of my poetry students showed up! How exciting!!!! We all showed up. This is what we do to make us whole. Please let’s keep showing up for each other so we can rebuild this world into a better place for everyone.
My heart overflows with gratitude. I’ve been going through a rough time lately, thinking about how how we’re all living right now, and gosh, how good it felt to not have to think about all that for a while. Thanks for everyone who’s been reaching out, showing off their books by mail, sending me well wishes, leaving reviews, letting me know they’ve read and they’ve felt the words. So much love is in this world. Let’s keep it going.
If you missed the dog and pony show, here it is, complete with trivia and giveaways and a loud heater blower thing that kind of takes over during one of the beginning poems and is remedied by the good folks at Ground Central and poet-musician-mic-friend BruceAllOne.
Thank you: VS and Mr. S, RG, AVP, HM, ED, BBS, all the fam, again my poetry students, JR & CR, BO, LC, SN, RG, SE and ME, and I know I’m forgetting people and I know I can’t include the strangers who came in and stayed to listen and then left before I could say hello. Thanks go out to you all.
Microblogging: Another One On Friendship
I almost went camping.
I’ll let that settle in for a moment. I know, I know. It’s true. It’s an almost.
Over the past almost two years, I’ve been sharing all my outdoorsy adventures. Through various woods. On several beaches. Up into the mountains. Swarmed by insects. Delighted by skies. Scared of noises in the brush. I’ve stumbled through nature, learning to walk tall.
In early October, I went hiking. I didn’t share it. I kept it private because I’d met a man. He was hiking with me that day, and it felt special. We went to a park where he’d never been, and I actually took the lead, finding my way around for some of it. Most of it was wandering for me, though, as it always is. He clearly could find his way, said he loved being outside, and said he liked camping. He asked if I would be interested in going camping with him.
Y’all know my usual response would be a resounding Nope followed by much laughter at the thought. I surprised myself in that moment because I didn’t even answer immediately. I’d paused. There was not a no. There was a me saying I’d be willing to try it. He got excited, explaining the best times we’d be able to go before the weather turned. I explained that his excitement could dampen when he realized I would not be helpful in any way, and basically, he’d have to keep me alive. He said he didn’t care and that the most difficult part would be figuring out what I could eat (canned meat was not an option, clearly). Our hike lasted several hours that day, and after that day, we went on to enjoy more than outdoorsy things together.
We never went camping. We’d talked about it. We’d talked about a lot of future fun. There was so much to do and share with each other. None of that happened either. Sometimes things fall apart.
Here’s why I’m grateful. First, the brief recap: my grandmother died, my dad died, my husband disappeared, I started to crawl out of the pit of grief and depression, started kind of dating again, and then pandemic hit. During pandemic, the guy I was seeing on and off cut things off, and I fell back into the pit, realizing I’d never grieved my dad because I’d been grieving my other loss. I started to crawl out of the pit, but with no vaccine yet and my desire to live and not kill those compromised around me, rebounding and dating was not an option. So I worked. I delighted in friendships. I wrote. I meditated. I hiked. I walked. I practiced yoga. I worked out. I went to museums. I danced from room to room in my house. I did all the things I do that create my happiness. I got vaxxed. Then this past summer, I felt it. With the fear that this little body would not be able to take another loss, I still felt the desire to find a man who could share a life.
Manifestation is powerful. The men showed up in my life in strange and sundry ways. None of them were right for me, and that was fine. I didn’t expect to find someone right away.
And then I did. I found a man who was everything I’d been looking for.
And then it didn’t work out.
So again, why I’m grateful. Here’s another loss, and here I am, still standing. This little body is whole. This little body thrives. And when I say this little body, I mean all that is me (setting aside the Buddhist-self-doesn’t-exist-body-isn’t-me-philosophy for now). Resilience is exhausting. Being strong is exhausting. Still, I’m grateful I get to be exhausted because that means I’m living a life.
I haven’t written much about my personal life since I got divorced. That experience changed how I see public versus private content. Sharing publicly all the highs and hiding all the very lows seemed dishonest. I wasn’t into airing the lows of my marriage because I didn’t realize they were lows at the time, and now I can’t see the point in sharing half a story moving forwards. However, I can share what I learn and what I know.
Because I’ve decided that I’m not moving from my house any time soon (I bought air conditioners, y’all—it’s an investment), I’ve been tidying up and clearing out trinkets. I found a box in my living room that felt empty, but when I looked inside, I startled. I didn’t remember I’d saved it. I found the parking receipt for the park from the hike where we’d talked about camping. When I found it, I remembered the moment clearly—I’d taken it from my hiking bag and went to throw it out. Then I’d stopped myself, feeling that feeling of this could be something, and put it in a new box. It was a memory of new beginnings, something I’d thought was going to be more than simply a passing by but a long term reality.
The reality is that it was a passing by after all. My heart is catching up to what my head already knows, and it’s difficult; getting through it is. Getting through it is also exhilarating.
This week, I went on a hike. The leaves are at peak autumn colors. I climbed up steep slopes, got caught up in thorny brush, kept to the trails, and found my way. Yes, that’s a metaphor, too.
Last week, my panel about creators getting through grief with gratitude came to be a realization. The next day, I talked on a panel about being in the creative field. It felt right, like I’d found the crossroads of all I’m meant to do. I don’t know if I’ll keep writing here. Because it’s not a revelation that I go outside anymore, the outdoorsy series pretty much ends here. Maybe if there’s a trip in the future to share or a really fun exhibit, I’ll come on back. To write about heartache is difficult, and as I said before, that line between public and private remains tricky for me.
Also, I’m a writer. This is who I am. Now more than ever I realize why I write. I write to connect, to let people know they are not alone, to share suffering along with joy. And I thank you always for listening.
And I’ve said this before many times, and I’ll keep saying it–to all y’all who help hold me up when I need it most and also celebrate all the wins in kind, you have my heart.
Unauthorized Recap of Unauthorized Banksy
The one story that sticks out to me about Banksy was the auction-house piece that shredded itself. That’s fun. I can appreciate graffiti; I’ve been on several do-it-yourself-graffiti-walking-tours in both the U. S. and Canada (I love Canada!). Interestingly, an indoor exhibit can take graffiti from the outside and hang it in a way that it glows from within. It was pretty neat.
You get one guess as to what happened when B and I first got to the exhibit. Like, aside from here’s my ID and vax card. If you guessed that I had to find a bathroom, you are correct. Bathrooms—not just for hiking. This meant careening through two floors of the exhibit, trying not to look at anything so that I would later be surprised by what I saw when I came through the second time to actually see it.
Back to the beginning! There was art. There were very long explanations in teeny tiny writing that we took pictures of to later read. Those pictures are still lingering on my to-read list. In addition to reading, there was watching. Like the Van Gogh exhibit, there was a room of animation. This room was small (a little too small to see what was going on the whole time) and it came with warnings about flashing lights. It was pretty cool, though, because it was as if we were in a subway car and got to travel throughout the world and fast forward through time. The rooms afterwards each had a theme and many included art with a quirky slant. My favorite collection is all about Disney called Dismaland. As a former cast member, I thoroughly approve of every single idea that comes across in Dismaland. Y’all don’t know the half of it.
Phone booths are fun.
Also, a lot of the work tugs at humanity’s collective conscience. War is bad. How people treat other people is bad. People are awful. And also, there’s hope. That’s the gist of the messages. On top of that, there was a small section about CCTV. We turned a corner and, oh, hello, we were on screen. I wish I could say this is the first time I was caught off-guard in an exhibit by realizing we’re being watched and recorded all the time, but it was not. (Let’s remember the Whitney).
After the exhibit, B and I walked aimlessly, winding up really far downtown. She suggested heading to Washington Square Park. That park was alive! Every fourth table was selling some sort of marijuana. In between were artists and musicians. There was a poet offering to write a poem or sell you a penis-shaped candle. (This could be my new endeavor depending on how lucrative this kind of waxing poetic is, and someone should really revoke my writing privileges after that pun).
Then out on the sidewalks, more graffiti, the uplifting kind. I love this city.
We Made A Friend In Bushwick
An art opening? Yasss! My friend’s first art opening? Yasss! Yasss! In Brooklyn so I can swing by and scoop up my Brooklyn friend to come along? Yasss! Yasss! Yasss!
In Bushwick on a Friday night? Eh, not so much yasss as welp, it’s surely worth it to go to a public place and look at art and chat with friends. Plus, planning it out, I found a garage nearby to not worry about parking. I also texted my brother: Walking two blocks in Bushwick, okay? His answer: Yes, walk fast.
My brother used to teach in Bushwick before it started to become the up and coming creative and lively neighborhood it has started to grow into. That means he saw some things. Thankfully, the things he saw we did not see as S and I careened around the streets of Brooklyn, looking for this parking garage, finally finding it on the street where its address was not.
Perhaps you’ve heard—me and car stuff do not go together. As soon as I pulled in, I got the nervous sweats. Doubling my nervous sweats was the guy who was waving me forward towards him instead of directing me behind the SUV that had pulled up in front of me.
I rolled down my window and said hi. He responded with, Do you remember where you picked it up, sweetie?
NOTE: I’ll say it right here right now. We were all in a casual setting, and this guy oozed genuine niceness. He wasn’t being condescending, and I don’t mind someone like this calling me sweetie.
Think of it this way:
When pandemic hit, I gave my classes my Instagram account so I could communicate with them on InstaLive when we were banished from campus because no one had a plan. They showed up, and some still stick around. In that time after the semester ended, though, one of the geniuses started replying to some of my stories. I didn’t recognize who it was, so I asked, Do I know you? He responded, Yes i was in your class. I replied back, Oh, that’s right, I hope you’re doing well. To which he replied, It’s all good Sweethearrrrrrttttt. To which I responded, Professor works better than sweetheart. Then I immediately blocked him.
See the difference?
Anyway, back to the parking garage where I’m working up a good pit sweat.
The guy says, Do you remember where you picked it up, sweetie? He starts pointing to the back of the garage and says something about right around the corner. Then he must see the puzzlement on my face because he stops, then does a double-take, and then? He punches my arm. No joke, like we’ve been friends for years and he’s realizing a mistake. He says, Oh, man, this isn’t a Zip Car!
I was like, Nope, this is my car.
He was like, It looks like the zip cars, okay, okay. And then he asked me to wait while he took care of the people in front of us. Then he came back over and asked to see my reservation. Then I had to find something in my email—began the heavy sweats when I couldn’t find it right away—and in that time, he took a liking to us.
He told S to get out of the car so I could park it against a wall. Then he told both of us and the couple in front of us about the importance of the ticket. Take the ticket. Take a picture of it. Put it in a safe place. Do not lose the ticket. If you do, it’s a five hour ordeal with the DMV to prove the car is yours. Do. Not. Lose. The. Ticket. I went to put the ticket in a safe place, and he yelled, Take a picture! I got all frazzled, took the picture, and then put the ticket in a safe place. Then he told S and me to follow him towards the back of the garage.
There were found a smashed up Jetta. Someone had run a stop sign and plowed head on into his wife’s car. She was fine, and he already had a new car. We also learned his birthday was soon as was the Puerto Rican Day Parade. One of the cars was going to be in it. Something was happening in Florida. Some of the garages got cars stolen. He takes care of his garage and none of that nonsense would happen here.
It was a lot to take in. We both thanked him, and as we started to walk out, I gave him my keys and a small tip.
TIP: I learned this from the wasband—tip your valet on the way in. It’s always stuck with me. I did it automatically.
He said he didn’t work for tips but he’d take it. Then he was like, Take a picture of my number! That’s me! I’m Eddie! Take a picture! I did and was instructed to call him when we were heading back so he’d have the car ready to go when we got there. See? Tip ahead.
Bushwick was safe. The few blocks we walked were filled with murals on buildings, a small restaurant decorated with album covers, and small shops with creative names along every street. The city was alive, and it felt so thrilling to walk and take it all in.
S found a wall that had been spray painted No Regrets and was like, Want a picture with it? I said sure, and so she directed me in what turned out to be a quick and fun photo shoot. Scroll through real quick to get the animated version. You, too, can have a photo set like this if you hang out with the best people like I do.
We found Gallery Petite. Art on the walls! A video piece! There were also pickles and brownies! Wine, too! This was an event! The artists were there, and the curator handed me the brochure of descriptions, so BG, S, and I went around looking at titles and materials. Then S pointed out to BG, Hey, your collage is upside down! That’s the fun thing about surrealist collage art—sometimes interpretation is far from the original intent. Also, S has a keen eye; I hadn’t noticed. BG said he thought it was really cool that it happened that way and he liked that it had happened.
His four collages hung on one wall as one master piece of collage-hood.
There was a pineapple painting on the opposite wall that I really enjoyed plus a photograph that caught my eye. S enjoyed a painting on wood and then realized, Oh, that’s a skeleton. That made it a little sad. Heh heh. Art is fun.
Then people showed up, like in a mass. We made our way to the sidewalk for conversation. Talked art. Talked poetry. Talked people we know. Talked some baking (because S makes the best desserts, and BG was amazed that someone could make peppermint patties). Then BG popped in and out, chatting it up with people looking at his art, and S and I people watched and did a final stroll through the artwork when more people spilled onto the street. This is the kind of event I enjoy the most—do your own thing inside and outside and talk about all the things you love with easygoing friends.
Both S and I had to work in the morning, so we headed out with a final hug for the artist. Out on the street, I called Eddie the Garage Guy, and he said he’d have my car ready. Then S and I stopped for a moment so I could find the ticket. The very important ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I gave it to S to look again. It wasn’t in my bag. It wasn’t in my pockets. It wasn’t anywhere. She was like, You have the picture, right? I was like, Yes. She was like, Well, he said the picture would be good enough. I agreed, but then I also felt like I was disappointing Eddie the Garage Guy. I’d lost the one thing he’d told me to hold most dear.
When we got to the garage after a regaling discussion that revealed I know nothing about ice cream trucks and racism (apparently Good Humor wasn’t always so good), my car was there, facing out, lights on, ready to go. We wandered in, and Eddie the Garage Guy called out, Go get in! You’re all set!
The ticket thing was now a non-necessity. I think this was because we’d seen him only two hours ago, and we all knew who the car belonged to. I tipped him again (the rest of the tip! this is how it works!). S’s door was locked, so he joked, I thought you wouldn’t be coming back! We all had a good laugh because his laugh was infectious, and then he was like, Honey, you have my number now. I was like, Yes, I sure do. He was like, I like you two, so you need anything—tires, parking, anything—you can call me, and I’ll make it happen. I thanked him profusely, and then we were off, out of the garage, careening around the streets of Brooklyn once again.
About the ticket. I never found it. Here’s what I think happened. I think it got wrapped up in the first tip I gave him, and he’d been holding the other half of it, so he didn’t notice what I’d done. If I hadn’t taken the picture of it, it would have been in my wallet. Instead, it’s out there in the ether, incredibly important and simultaneously unnecessary. This is art. This is life.
And also: Congratulations, BG!
Lost In Brooklyn
Way back when the weather went back and forth between freezing and not–kind of like what it’s still like right now–I went to see S. She was like, I have to go to this printing shop. I was like, let’s do it. She was like, it’s a bit of a walk. I was like, Yesssss. She was like, no, really, it’s a mile and… I was like, the longer the better let’s goooooo.
Can you tell I’d had enough of inside?
It wasn’t nature walking. It was sidewalk walking. Crossing streets walking. Dodging people rushing the other way, including children on scooters with their mother not caring that their children were literally aiming for oncoming pedestrian walking. That is a very specific kind of walking, I suppose, but it was there. It was all there.
There was no snow fort to climb over at each corner. There were no large puddles of leftover mystery moisture. It was brisk when the sun went in, and that offered relief from the over-doing-it all-out sort of foot race I’d turned our walk into.
Then we got to one of those corners that isn’t simply two streets crossing each other but it’s a web of weirdness. You can’t tell which light is for who. There are crosswalks that seem to link one side of the street with a cloud by way of the sewer. You know, those places where you have no idea who decided it was a good idea to make all roads lead to that one point where nothing special lives except for confusion. We got out our phone maps. We walked a little. We checked the map. We walked a little. We checked the map.
S realized: We overshot it. I was like, Yassss.
If you can’t tell, I was really enjoying the walk outside not in my house.
We double backed and found the shop and it was small and about a billion degrees so I waited outside. The scooter children wheeled by followed by their mother who clearly saw them making pedestrians jump out of the way and said absolutely nothing. When S was done, we headed to Starbucks because I had points that I didn’t want to lose. (If you don’t know what that means, I feel sad and need you to contact me so I can explain the wonders of free things).
At the Starbucks, my first notion was, This music is too loud. My second notion was, I am an old lady. I ordered a tall Emperor’s cloud green tea and asked to use my points. After a short wait, one of the baristas practically had to shout to get my attention, and then asked, Did you want a regular tea or a latte? I was like, Just a hot tea. Then the manager called me over to the register and explained that she had to scan my app again because the wrong amount of points were taken. She said the points would show up later and the drink was on her. I thanked her, and then realized my whole use-them-or-lose-them points issue had not been resolved. Also, this debacle proves that am not an old lady and the music was indeed too loud.
Not that this is a story about reading comprehension, but here’s the follow up. The points never appeared back in my app, so I sent a message to customer service explaining exactly what happened as I have here (minus the music being loud). The response I got was this: We are sorry you experienced this. We have read your email very carefully. We are sorry you did not like the taste of your dragon fruit latte. Please be aware that this latte is a different amount of points from a regular tea. We will contact the store and give you your points back.
Let me point out their second statement: We have read your email very carefully. Really? Did I ever mention a dragon fruit something or other? I don’t even know if that’s a thing. I have no idea what they were talking about and I never tasted anything I didn’t like. I mean, in this instance. I’m sure I’ve tasted things in my life I haven’t liked. Like the first time I had cilantro. It was bad. Real bad. But I’ve grown accustomed to it, now. Anyway.
I was out! S and I took that long walk back, and it was a brilliant day of catching up. That’s why we’d totally missed the place the first go around. Walking and talking and feeling like the world was a normal place. That’s what friendship is all about. That and making fun of the response I got back from Starbucks because when I told S, she was like, You totally didn’t say any of that! Thanks, friend.
Microblogging Part 2
I don’t know if this is a cop out, microblogging instead of blogging here. I’m writing. I suppose that’s all that matters.
From Silence To Storytelling
These silent meditation retreats are becoming my everything. They come up exactly when I need them. I get exactly what I need out of them. The universe works if you let it. This most recent one was at Kadampa Massapequa, and it was a bit shorter, from 9:30 to 1ish. I had to move my car a few times because of timing and parking, but the breaks between meditation were a good time to do that. Plus, I like to walk outside during the breaks, and I found out that that’s what people do–they walk clockwise. And that’s what I’d been doing all along at all of my retreats. Clockwise walking. I didn’t choose it. I just did it. See? The universe. Also, breaks are a good time to eat, which I did. I brought snacks. What? Did you think I wouldn’t be carrying a bag of food around with me? The best part was seeing someone there I know from yoga and hearing that she came because she read about it in my newsletter, aka my Highly Infrequent Email list. Changing lives, people! Changing lives!
When I arrived, I saw that someone had already put a jacket on my seat. Yep, my seat. I go there only once a month, and I don’t have a membership, but apparently I’ve claimed a seat. So that was a reality check, realizing that I’ve created an attachment. This moment was like the moment in the airport when S and I were flying to ATL and I moved to the side after checking our luggage and before security so I could take off my coat and I said to her, I”m realizing I have an airport routine.
Side note: Delta owes me a ginger ale. It’s not their fault. It’s turbulence’s fault. We experienced a lot of bumps on the way home so all beverage service was halted and the flight attendant threw cookies at everyone on the way to her seat. My attachment to drinking ginger ale on a flight was tested, and I got through it. Sort of. Because I still think Delta owes me a drink.
Anyway, the point here is that self-realization is a good thing and realizing attachment leads to a chance to grow and become non-attached. Which means I sat in a different seat instead of confronting the woman who put her coat on my chair. As if I’d actually confront a stranger. Or talk to one. But this was the point of the day–not talking. The seat I chose worked just as well as the other seat, and now I’m no longer attached to the chair, physically, mentally, or spiritually. (I still want that ginger ale, though).
As an about-face, the next day was very chatty. I taught two yoga classes–my regular power hour at 9 and then a sub stint for a stretch and flow at 10:15. By the by, if you’re a lady, you can join me every Sunday at 9 for dancey-yoga. If you don’t want to be out of the house that early or you’re not a lady, then you can get your yoga on in semi-private or individual sessions. Also? Reiki. I’m available, y’all! After yoga, I headed out to Sip This to write with a poet friend. It was our first time writing together, so we actually wound up chatting more than writing, but I did draft a poem about dolphins and yoga that’s been floating around in my brain, so that made me super happy. Also, there was jazz, loud jazz, which made for a really groovy coffee klatsch.
Then off to Industry in Huntington for Mostly True Things, a storytelling game. I mean, does it get any better? It’s storytelling. It’s a game. I get to listen to people tell me stories and then I have the chance to win. The last time someone told me a story was at the Rubin, and it was bedtime. This time, I was not in pajamas. The four tellers were fantastic. I saw some poets I know, so we chatted about possible truth tellers and fibbers–only one person was telling a completely true story. I was wrong in my first guesses, but when it came time to make official guesses, I got it right.
I won a tote bag!
All of this unfolded on the tail end of a President’s Week that put all previous President’s Weeks to shame:
Sunday: Yoga and South Bay Sundays Workshop–I love love love my group of writers. Some new faces appeared, and I love them as much.
Monday: Sit Around and Write. I wrote some poems!
Tuesday: Hair cut! I’m bald! Not really.
Wednesday: Mr. Cheapos with my brother to sell CDs. I came home with fewer CDs. Does anyone want CDs? I also have a DVD of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic New York Minute, featuring Eugene Levy.
Thursday: Writing editing cleaning cooking doing all the things one does to stay alive
Friday: Breakfast at Morning Rose Cafe with T and D. And it was delicious. And I shook and had a headache for a few hours afterwards because salt and sugar. Worth it for sure.
So a very fun week rounded out by a very fun weekend and how grateful am I to be able to live this life so fully!
Coca Cola And The Incomparable Celine Dion
When I asked about peaches, I found out about boiled peanuts. It’s a thing in Georgia. Also in Georgia, specifically Atlanta, are the World of Coca Cola and Celine Dion. While Celine is not always there, Coke is, and so S, A, and I visited both.
The World Of Coca Cola
The first thing we did was drink a small can of Coke. This was going to be a day of sugar shock.
We took the VIP tour. So that other visitors can’t tag along and listen, they give you headsets and the tour guide whispers into a mic so only the tour can hear. Most of what I heard translated in my mind into how Coca Cola has steadily earned world dominance. Why does Santa wear red and white? Coke. If that’s not domination, then I don’t know what is.
The first room we entered had memorabilia from across the globe throughout the decades. It was a lot of stuff. Then we watched a movie. It was people living their lives, and then they would drink Coke. I didn’t get it. I mean, who hikes up a mountain in the snow and then drinks Coca Cola at the top? No one is carrying that up a mountain, and water would be the drink of choice. Like, it really didn’t make any sense. At all.
We got to skip the line to meet the polar bear. This thing is not okay. I have a bit of an aversion to adult sized characters in big heads that don’t talk. Like, if you’re in costume and talk, that’s fine, but if you’re mute and make gestures, that makes me really uncomfortable, which is why I don’t go to Chuck E. Cheese (among other reasons). This fear may stem from the time Twinkie The Kid accosted me over at the A&P when I was little. I don’t remember much of the story, and I know I walked away with a Twinkie The Kid ring, but the ring wasn’t worth it.
Anyway, we took pictures with the scary bear just before it headed for break. It waddled away and was really creepy. Still, the pictures we took with it are priceless.
We learned about the creator of Coke and his secret recipe. We learned about how the formula is still secret, and the bottlers and distributors don’t know how to make it. We saw more advertising. We learned about different glass. Basically, anything you could possibly think of concerning soft drink supremacy was in this museum.
We saw the vault, y’all.
Then came a moment I hadn’t ever thought I’d get the chance to experience. You know how I love the Olympics? Yeah, well, so does Coca Cola. They sponsor a bunch of sports, and the Olympics is one of them, so they have some torches on display. Then in a weird unsuspecting hallway, they have a locked cabinet of torches that we got to hold. I held an Olympic torch! My life is so complete!
In addition to VIP badges, we also got VIP pins! Then into the tasting room we went! Sugar shock continues! The room is set up by continent, and there are several countries’ drinks to try out. We tasted Beverly from Italy first because we heard it was nasty. It was. Very. Nasty. Then there was some Germany drinks, and they were not nasty but also not great. One had a picture of an apple and something else with it, and that something else I’m pretty sure was not-great-ness. Africa had a lot of berry or juicy flavors. Super duper sweet.
We took a break from tasting and checked out commercials throughout the ages. I sang along with the I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke ad. It’s the only one I recognized.
Back to the tasting room! The South American ones were probably my favorite. I also like something from Japan. There was one, however, that made me make a face that I could feel was the face of pain and disturbance. I walked over to S and A who were still tasting in Africa and was like, China tastes like steak sauce. And clearly my face told the whole tale. While I didn’t receive a complete agreement, S was like, I can see how you’d think that. I was like, I don’t think that; I know that.
We finished up in the tasting room by drinking more Coke products from the do-it-yourself-mix-and-match machines. I didn’t mix anything, but I did try root beer for the first time. Interesting. I’ve also never tried Dr. Pepper even though I’ve visited the Dr. Pepper Museum. For someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks, I do enjoy a good soda museum.
This was the day we also had Cracker Barrel, and I was able to use the last $1.03 I had on a Cracker Barrel Gift Card I’ve owned for maybe ten years. Basically, it was a joyous day of food and beverages.
The Incomparable Celine Dion
A drove us first to a closed down Italian place (booo!) and then to an open Italian place (yeay!) for dinner. Then a monsoon hit. Like rain puddles emerged in the restaurant. Then the monsoon died down a little, and we were on our way to see Celine. We listened to Celine in the car. Then we got stuck in Celine traffic. Everyone on the street walking to the arena was wearing some sort of sparkle or sequin ensemble. I’d gotten the memo and was decked out in a shimmery shirt. Because what else would one wear to see Celine Dion?
We arrived a little late because everyone in Atlanta wanted to see Celine. The upside was that A was able to point out the Olympic park and the Olympic rings. I saw them! In person! From the car, but still. It’s an Olympics Miracle!
For her first few songs, Celine wore an orangy sparkly gown. See? Glittering is the way to go. And every song was shout-singable. You know, like how you want to sing along but you can’t because you’re not Celine so you kind of shout the lyrics along with the melody? Yeah, we did a lot of that. I didn’t sit for most of the concert. I was that girl, dancing even to the slow stuff, even to the French stuff, even to the songs that aren’t really dancing songs.
The arena was loud. Probably one of the loudest concerts I’ve been to. So loud that Celine stopped and got weepy, thanking everyone for the applause. That cause what I could not believe was even louder cheering. The night was all energy.
Her last song before the we-know-what’s-coming encore was a medley of covers. Again, she wore a shiny get-up. I think there were four wardrobe changes, and during those changes, we watched videos of her dancing that also looked like perfume ads. That woman can move. Wow.
The encore was, predictably, “My Heart Will Go On,” the theme from Titanic, that really I’m not too much of a fan of. There were drones dancing around her as she sang and then she sent one off to fly away on its own. It was all very dramatic. Then she sang “Imagine.” I didn’t think she’d sing anything after her most sang song ever, but I was happy she did.
While soda and Celine were fantastic, seeing friends was the best thing we did. I met A’s husband and son for the first time. We checked out their digs, watched movies, and shopped at the local Publix where I got my hands on some boiled peanuts. Gotta say, they’re pretty okay. I’ll go back to ATL any time for any of these things.