If you follow any of my travel narratives, you know that the impetus for my trips aren’t always normal. I went to London once for a pair of shoes. I went out of my way to visit every single location of my favorite Italian restaurant, Alfredo’s. It should come as no great shock to you, then, to learn that last weekend Jessica and I drove three hours to the border of Iowa to visit the only 7-Eleven convenience store in the state. Of course there’s a really good reason for this, reader. When we were in Mexico City this summer, we visited the 7-Eleven down the street daily, sometimes multiple times each day. It’s where we procured water, jamaica, the occasional cat treat, mint chocolate candies, Ferraro Roecher, cervezas on a whim, lighters to ignite the stovetop, and ice cream bars. It was our everything. In the two months I was there, I came to know the entire staff. 7-Eleven became emblematic of our love for Mexico, so we had to go. Last weekend, we drove out to Davenport to have lunch at Olive Garden — which we also did in Mexico City — which was the best Olive Garden I have had in the longest time. That food was LITTY. After gorging ourselves to the point of risking death, we happily waddled to the car to get to 7-Eleven. I put it in the GPS, excitedly pulled into traffic, and ten minutes later we were both screeching in a rage. Where the shop should have been was a bulldozer and a leveled lot. The 7-Eleven was GONE. We had driven all this way for NOTHING! I checked my phone desperately and saw another location across the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois, and so we crossed the border and happily found a fully functioning 7-Eleven. It was awesome. Just as good as the one in Mexico City. We bought absolutely everything. I bought shot glasses that look like miniature Moscow mule cups. I found a keychain that says BAD BOY. I grabbed something called a slurpee. I found nibbles, but most importantly, I found the identical lighter that I used every single day in Mexico City. I had no need for a lighter, but the sentimentality of owning it was too delightful to pass up. It’s on my coffee table now at the ready to light candles. The rest of the day was an exciting reverie, too. We drive through a cemetery and went to a zoo. I posed with a skeleton and chatted with a jaguar.
Then we ate smashed baked potatoes at a restaurant called Hungry Hobo and watched a Halloween parade. There were witches galore and plenty of people in T-Rex costumes. It was awesome. People literally threw Tootsie Rolls in our face. And it was thrilling to watch the shockingly large group of spectators go conspicuously silent when Republicans came traipsing through as they campaigned. Y’all know Republicans would have gladly burnt those dressed up as witches at a makeshift stake if somebody let them. It was a long day full of long drives, but it was so worth it. We got to recreate some of our favorite memories, I ate and ate and ate, and I now have a Halloween portrait. It was perfect. I need to get away monthly.
I adore Freddie Mercury, but not for the usual reasons. It’s because of those damned rainbow bears.
Do you remember? If not, how lucky you are, how blessed you are, how innocent you are. I, on the other hand, am forever cursed by any reference to a bear. You see, dear and faithful readers, as the beloved boy band, One Direction, was coming to a close, the rainbow bears appeared. At first it was just one rainbow stuffed animal that made the occasional appearance at the concerts. He was just a simple bear, but then all of a sudden he had aviator sunglasses and a leather hat and a mustache and then leather bondage gear…and suddenly he looked like Freddie Mercury. And all the fans were like lol, but then there was another rainbow bear and the conspiracy theories went wild. And for very good reason. It became clear that the big bear was supposed to be Harry and the little one was supposed to be Louis. And then it got wilder. The bears appeared in wedding attire, then there was a framed photo of them standing next to a man named Larry, and then the bears had a damn iPhone that you could call and leave messages. They had their own Twitter account. They had their own spotlight at the concerts. When Jessica and I went to a One Direction concert in San Francisco, we saw those damn bears with our own eyes. They haunted us. They gave us PTSD. It was all so clear and so obvious that Harry and Louis were madly in love with each other. And then the bears posted a picture of them covered in chocolate cake and were never heard from again. The iPhone number remains active and their Twitter account remains in the owner’s possession. They’re out there lurking. Waiting. I’ll have a heart attack when they post again someday. But now onto the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody. It was so good. And so funny. I highly recommend it. Rami Malek, one of my potential husbands, was absolutely sensational. Can you blame me for adoring him?
He wiggled and stomped and made fists just like Freddie. And he lip synced to SAVE HIS LIFE. If he found himself on RuPaul’s Drag Race, he would sashay away with the crown and everybody’s careers. The movie was fun, even though he was dying of AIDS. It was filled with bops and there was a scene with a rooster crowing that should win the Oscar for editing. And if my beloved Rami doesn’t get a nomination for Best Actor, I insist that we storm the Academy and make them come to their senses. The film is over two hours long, but it absolutely flies by. The costumes are perfection and I wanted to wear EVERYTHING. The looks were divine.
Don’t listen to the critics, listen to your heart and the fans and go to the theater and have a riotous good time. I did. It’s a picture I would happily and willingly watch again. And again. And again.
In Person Classes:
I feel like I’ve been in classes forever, and I really have. I took community college classes for absolute ages. Well, it was three years, but it felt like it aged me a good decade. Then after that I could breathe for a little bit before starting my next degree at Upper Iowa. This was the first time that I ever went to take classes live and in person. What a blissful change! At DMACC, I took four classes online each semester. They made me want to jump off of a bridge. So much reading every week in every class. And then so much writing. And so many discussion forums. It was the absolute worst, but I didn’t know any better. When I started with the Upper Iowa classes, I was shocked and delighted to discover that I really loved learning in person far more than I cared for online classes. I always imagined that I would like learning from the comfort of my bed, but it turns out NO. I am a major fan of physically being in class. It is so much less overwhelming because the instructor can actually teach the content instead of relying on dozens of reading excerpts and poor quality YouTube videos that were almost always unavailable. I swear that every online educator uses dialup or set up their curriculum in the Bronze Age. It’s insane. I don’t really have much more to say on this matter. After a summer of online classes, I’m back to heading to Des Moines one night a week, and my stress levels are back to normal. I’m getting so close to being done that I can almost TASTE it. It is time for me to be done and student teach and get a classroom. I can’t wait.
New York Times Student Subscription:
I’ve been meaning to subscribe to the New York Times for absolute ages. I use the app every day and I was starting to get really frustrated when I ran out of free articles. There are so many interesting reports and stories that I decided that I’d eventually have to sign up. But I didn’t. I oftentimes put off doing cheap things for myself and splurge on things that are much more expensive and I don’t feel at all guilty about it. Like that laptop I picked up on a whim or the expensive dinners I treated myself to. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s been on my Christmas wish list for years but nobody gets it for me. I don’t know why. Imagine my overwhelming delight when I got a message on my university email that offered a student discount on the subscription that I was longing for! For only six dollars a month, I now have unlimited access to the entire app, the crosswords, and the cooking section. If you have never explored the recipes that they post, you are missing out. For whatever reason, they are always of the highest caliber; their no-knead bread was life changing and there is a recipe for a tart that uses an entire lemon — seeds, skin, and all — that I have been drooling over. I’ll need to make it over the weekend. And it’s just so wonderful to be able to read all the articles I want without worrying about going over limit. I can open articles and get bored of them and close them out without any feelings of remorse. I can read article after article in their travel section. They have a series that details what to do with thirty-six hours in random cities around the world. The most recent one was Bucharest, Romania, so you can easily imagine my squeal of joy. I am such a fan of their journalism and reporting, even if they were foolish during the last presidential election. I can’t forgive them for that, but I will have to get over it. Get a subscription of your own, darling reader, it’s worth every penny. They have even cheaper options too for students and educators. What a blessing! Always ask for a discount!
Impossible to Find ALDI Wine Advent Calendar:
I am absolutely livid. For several years, I have been a major acolyte of ALDI. I’m considering applying there for a weekend job because I love the store so much. There’s nothing that I don’t love. You’ve heard me rhapsodize over their curry sauces, produce, canned tomatoes, cheeses, grapefruit sodas, and wine. I love it. I love it so much; there is not a thing I don’t love. Right now the only thing I don’t like is the unavailability of their boxed risotto. That’s one of my go-to meals and now I can’t find mushroom risotto anywhere. It makes me so sad. But that pales in comparison to what I just went through. About a month ago, ALDI was on Instagram previewing all of their new products for the holiday season. I was deeply intrigued by an air fryer, that only costs $50 and will surely end up in my home at some point in the near future. I’m surprised I didn’t buy it yesterday. They also advertised a small wine chiller, which I dreamed lustily over. I thought it would be the very height of elegance to have a wine chiller in my lounge, bottles and bottles of cheap red wine waiting for me at the perfect temperature. But when I ran to the shop after work last night, it was nowhere to be found. That wasn’t the main thing I wanted, I was there for an advent calendar that had twenty-four servings of their delicious wine. Nothing sounded more divine that a sample of wine every day. It wasn’t anything really very special, as all the wines in the calendar were available for purchase throughout the year. I wanted the experience though, you know? ALDI in other countries has had this for years, and England even has cheap gin. When the calendar was finally announced that it would be coming to America, I put it on my calendar so that I would get one. I originally thought I’d take the morning off work, take some personal time, and go when the shop opened, grab my wine calendar, grab some lunch, and head to work. I foolishly forgot to do this, so when I got to ALDI that afternoon, there were no calendars to be had. I asked one of the employees and she told me that there was a line around the building before the store opened. The calendars sold out instantly. The manager told me that every ALDI in the Des Moines metro had sold out the same way. I asked my friend to check in the location near her, but they were also out of stock with no plans of getting more. I was left feeling devastated. There was even a cheese calendar, but you can guess that it was also sold out. This reminds me of the ALDI rosé kerfuffle of year’s past. They released an award-winning wine, but it was impossible to find. Now I see it all the time. I suppose this will be what happens with the advent calendar and they’ll produce more next year. I still have hope that I will find one before the first of December, but my hopes aren’t at all high. I would drive to another state if I could get my hands on one of those delicious boxes. Sad for me.