Annapalooza

Here’s What Makes Me Cry (And It’s Kind of Embarrassing) August 14, 2017

Filed under: Humor,Uncategorized — aniederkorn @ 10:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

The other day a friend texted me:

I was at a meeting today where someone I’ve known for years told us she has breast cancer. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I still feel like I could burst into tears – what is wrong with me? It’s not like we are close, just mommy friends…our sons are the same age. I don’t know…one of my worst fears I guess.

I texted back right away:

There is nothing wrong with you; that is heartbreaking news. And it shows you have a big heart. Hell I cry at the drop of a hat nowadays.

And this is true. There’s something about the past few years (hormones maybe?) that have made me much more susceptible to crying, even when it’s totally unexpected. I’ve basically turned into my mother, crying when I see a First Communion.

I think in some cases my tears are fully justified. For example, the other day the verdict came out on the “suicide texting” case. If you’re not familiar with the case, a teenage girl basically texted her boyfriend that he should kill himself. He was already seriously contemplating it, and she sent him several texts encouraging himself to do it already. And he did.

The entire case garnered a lot of national attention, and now here she was on live television, about to get sentenced. As I sat and watched the closing comments of her lawyers and then the sentencing, I couldn’t help myself. I just cried. The entire situation was just so horrible and sad; the girl looked like a complete zombie, her eyes barely fluttering to stay open. I couldn’t help but cry for everyone involved.

But then we move on to two other situations where my tears just flowed from out of the blue:

Scenario One:

Last fall I participated in running a relay marathon. (And when I say “running”, I really mean slowly jogging and wishing it all would end.) My part of the relay was just 5 miles, as opposed to all the folks running 26.2. After my relay group had finished, had a snack, took some pictures and patted ourselves on the back, we started walking back to the car (well, actually to the bar, if truth be told). On the way there we continued to watch all the marathoners finishing the race. Now by this point we were down to the slower people, but by all means I’m not judging…because they just ran 26.2 miles. I don’t care how slow you are, you had the discipline to do it, and that’s about 21 more miles than I ever care to run.

So as I’m watching the runners, all of a sudden I see an acquaintance, someone I used to work with. He was clearly suffering; every step he took looked painful, and he could not be any more drenched in sweat. At this point it was all he could do to finish the race. Man, this guy needed as much encouragement as possible, which lead me to scream out his name and keep shouting, “Good job! Keep it up! Keep going! Woo hoo!!”

Except I just barely got the words out. Because I was crying.

My husband looked at my oddly.

“Honey, are you crying?”

I looked away, slightly embarrassed.

“Well, yeah…”I started. “It’s just that he did it but it looked so painful…but he did it…” I drifted off. I couldn’t explain it. I was just so proud of this guy because I knew he wasn’t a typical runner; he just happened to have this goal and he trained for it and accomplished it. What could I say? I was verklempt.

But perhaps the most embarrassing of my sobbing happens at other happy times. Nope, I’m not talking about graduations or wedding speeches or gender reveal parties.

I’m talking about The Price is Right.

First of all, you can’t help but get happy when you watch The Price is Right. Having a crappy day? Life got you down? Trust me: Turn on this show and you will immediately be cheered up. No wonder so many unemployed people watch this show! (I’m guessing) And did you know they have a guy model on there too? Yes, a male Barker’s Beauty! (Insert purring noise here.)

Everyone on the show is just so freaking excited to be there, you’d think they’d all won a million dollars, whether they were sitting in the audience or had just won a brand new car. You seriously can’t tell the difference between the two.

But most of all I just plain love it when people win. You can tell that these people don’t have a whole lot happening in their lives, and being on The Price is Right will probably be the best thing to happen to them. So they just completely lose their shit whenever any prize (no matter how small) is announced. Years’ supply of Rice o’Roni? Hell yes, somersaults! Some jet ski that costs more than their double wide? Bring it on!

Spinning one dollar on the big wheel seems to give the biggest reaction, even though it’s only a thousand bucks. But to most of these people, that is a huge deal. And so I cry. And one time I saw the historic occasion when all three people spun $1.00 on the wheel. That was a veritable sob fest for me, not just because I was witnessing game show history and everyone was freaking out, but everyone was just so happy for each other. Even when only one person could eventually move on to the Showcase Showdown, the two losers were still hugging and rejoicing and congratulating, just so excited for the winner. (Basically if you want to see good sportsmanship, all you have to do is watch The Price is Right. Sure, the people on Wheel of Fortune are clapping for the other contestants, but if you look closely, they’re cursing under their breaths when the dumb-as-rocks person ends up winning because everyone else landed on Bankrupt.)

And don’t even get me started when Drew asks everyone to spay and neuter their pet.

But…he’s carrying on Bob Barker’s legacy with such class.

SOB.

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Here’s What Happens When Your College Kid Comes Home for the Summer July 7, 2017

Filed under: Humor,Uncategorized — aniederkorn @ 8:23 pm
Tags: ,

Maybe he grew a beard. Maybe she got a beer gut. Or maybe you hardly recognize this stranger in your house who apparently didn’t do any laundry the last month of school. But they’re home. They’ll probably challenge your boundaries and drive you crazy, but gosh darn it they’re your kids. And when they aren’t doubting your advice and your overall awesomeness as a parent, they can be pretty cool.

But let’s not kid ourselves; our normal household routine is definitely disrupted when the kid(s) come home from college. In the grand scheme of things, these things don’t annoy me as much as they kind of fascinate me, and they boil down to three things:

Odd Hours

I came home from a party one Saturday night around 11:30 (yes, p.m.) to find my husband playing poker with my twenty-one-year-old son and his friends. (No, there was no drinking involved since some of them were underage.) After a few minutes the game wrapped up, and everyone under age 49 decided they were going to go work out. Huh? Of course… because that’s totally reasonable. It’s not like they were getting off 3rd shift at the mill and this was part of their regular schedule; they just consciously chose to go work out around midnight on a Saturday. On one hand I’m impressed how they don’t let anything dictate their schedule; on the other hand, I’m wondering how they ever got to sleep that night. It truly boggles this lady’s mind.

Mysterious clothing

It’s inevitable that strange clothing will appear in my son’s laundry after I haven’t seen him in a while. A shirt with bananas on it? Where did that come from? Does he really like it, or is he just trying to be funny and ironic? And good grief, these are the towels that he used all semester? Those rags look like I should have been doing a welfare check on him. And then there’s all the friends’ clothing that make it into our house. On any given day there will be three pairs of friends’ shoes at our doorway (or maybe even some shorts and tee shirts) that seem to rotate among four of them, depending on who needs what when and where they’re going. Forget Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; it’s more like Brotherhood of the Traveling Shorts at my house.

Hungry friends

Speaking of friends…even though they forget their clothing, personal identification and even their keys at my house, they never ever forget to eat at my house. My son’s friends have been known to come by for their “second supper”. (We caught on to that trick pretty quickly.) Sometimes they call around and do a comparison before deciding where they’re going to eat. (Wait – wasn’t that an episode of Leave it to Beaver?) But in any case, I’m still surprised at how quickly our food disappears. That movie theater candy I got on special at Walgreens? Gone. The expensive Bai 5 drinks I got at Costco? Drank like they were overflowing fountains of water. (Note to self: Must hide Bai 5.) The empty wrappers and containers lying around my living room? A downright paradise for Templeton the rat.

 

 

Seven more weeks until school, folks!

 

 

 

Does My Bluetooth Discriminate? May 29, 2017

About 18 months ago I got a brand new car. This whole new car gig opened me up to an entirely new world: dual heated seats, a heated steering wheel, Sirius XM radio, keyless start, a camera for backing up (and a beep to tell me when I’m too close to something), and a whole bunch more bells and whistles I never even knew existed. I could finally be as cool as those people on TV who receive texts and phone calls right through their car. (What is this, The Jetsons?! Craziness!) I finally knew what I had been missing out on and now there was no going back. (I realize some of you may have been luxuriating in this technology for the past 10 years, and I just sounded a lot like Romy in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion when she busted out her HUGE portable phone and asked if anyone needed to make a call… BUT… in the meantime my mortgage is paid off, so there’s that.)

So I am loving the Bluetooth, but there’s a slight problem.

Me: (pressing phone call button and trying to call my husband) Call Dan Mobile One.

Bluetooth Voice: Do you want to call an ambulance?

Me: (panicking) NO!

Bluetooth Voice: Okay, say the name of the contact you wish you call.

Me: (annunciating profusely – and sweating profusely as well) Call DAN MOBILE ONE.

Bluetooth Voice: Do you want to call an ambulance?

Me: Gah! NO!!

Bluetooth Voice: Okay, let’s try this again.

After several near-misses with reporting a false emergency, along with some serious reflection on my Wisconsin accent, I finally figured out the trick. Apparently the Bluetooth lady only recognizes ‘Dan’ when I pronounce it with a slight English accent mixed with major nasal congestion. It ends up being much closer to ‘Don’ than ‘Dan’, plus I wind up feeling and sounding like a pretentious a**hole when I say it.

So I couldn’t help but wonder: What kinds of accents does the Bluetooth lady actually recognize? Do people in other parts of the country with other accents also struggle with this problem? And would it just be easier to use an entirely different accent overall when trying to use Bluetooth? (Hmmm now that could be fun. But also very confusing/annoying to my passengers.)

I did a very quick experiment for myself, and here were the results:

Southern Accent: Even with my deepest, twangy-ist Southern accent impersonation, the Bluetooth still recognized that I wanted to call Dan. Huh. I would have thought the Southern version of Dan would have triggered an ambulance more than anything, but no dice. This might keep me awake at night.

English Accent: Not surprisingly, this worked like a charm. No issues.

Irish Accent: This one worked too, even though I sounded exactly like Mrs. Doubtfire.

Indian Accent: This one was a fail. The Bluetooth lady kept telling me, “I didn’t understand what you said,” and eventually she just went ahead and dialed my last incoming call.

Butthead: (yes, of Beavis and…) Even when I added a little obnoxious Butthead laugh in front of my request, the Bluetooth STILL recognized it.

Since I can’t really do any more accents, and I wasn’t even sure how well I did the ones I tried, I stopped there. I mean if you wanted me to yell at the Bluetooth in a Russian accent and say, “He beat me! Straight up!” a la John Malkovich in Rounders, I could do that. But ask me to say anything else in a Russian accent and I’d fail miserably.

So what did I conclude?

We’ve still got a long way to go, Bluetooth. I mean it kind of concerns me that you could understand my Butthead voice but not my normal voice. What does that say about your quality control? But I’m going to keep trying. We’ll see how Amazon’s Echo fairs when I start speaking to it. If it can understand me when I say flag and bag, then we’ve got a winner.

Stay tuned.

 

When Cheeseheads Travel South April 24, 2017

The road trip seemed like a good idea at the time.

“It’s only the panhandle…it’s not like we’re driving to Miami,” I reasoned. “Besides, all the flights are astronomically expensive during spring break.”

About twelve hours into the trip we ended up cursing ourselves for being such cheap-asses. On the other hand, it only took me about five hours to realize that even Sirius XM plays the same damn songs over and over again. (The top 50 songs from 1983 again, Alan Hunter?) And while we are certainly nostalgic, eventually we grew tired of Nina Blackwood’s “I just swallowed broken glass” voice and ended up on the ONEderland station. There we were promptly treated to the WKRP in Cincinnati theme song. Baby, if you ever wondered…wondered how long it would take for my husband to get tired of me singing that song? I’d say twenty minutes. Twenty minutes tops.

Thankfully the long trip was broken up a bit by a stop in Nashville. We jumped on a trolley tour and endured all the historical narration and the American Pickers store until we could hop off and zoom in on what really mattered. That’s right, I’m talking about hot chicken. We waited an hour and twenty minutes for Hattie B’s famous hot chicken, and yes, it was worth it. Waiting was not easy, especially since we were surrounded by about a bazillion twenty-something hipster dudes. Ladies, quit hooting and hollering on those pedal-bars and come and eat some chicken for God’s sake! A person can only listen to so many dive bar adventures and references to PBR.

After a late afternoon nap (because eating hot chicken and mac and cheese makes one very tired), we headed back out to Broadway, home to much honkin’ as well as much tonkin’. When I heard a band playing some very good Chuck Berry, we decided to make our way inside. After securing our beverages and a place up front, things took a bit of a turn for me. The band stopped the Chuck Berry and suddenly started playing Country. No Western, just Country. Had it been Kenny or Dolly or Loretta or Johnny or any of the Statlers I would have been fine, but this was new country. As in the music I have to tolerate before Monday Night Football begins. But apparently EVERYONE (including my husband – oh, the horror…) knew all the words to every song, leaving me to awkwardly clutch my Michelob Ultra and mumble over and over, “All I know is Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee.”[1] I felt like I had been transported to some sort of parallel pop culture universe where I was completely out of the loop… kind of like when I lived overseas in 1994 and then came home to find everyone drinking Zima. That is, it made me deeply concerned for human kind’s sense of judgment and overall taste level.

But I digress.

The next day we hit the back roads of Alabama. This is where we came across my favorite name for a restaurant ever, the “It Don’t Matter Family Restaurant” in Highland Heights. Unfortunately it was closed, but my disappointment was short-lived as we came to a convenience (?) store whose sign read: Hot dogs, wine, chainsaws and jewelry all in one stop.

I’m not really sure what more a person could ask for, but judging by all the rusty items sitting out front, an updated tetanus shot would be a good guess. And now I know what the Oily Bohunk’s dad’s new business venture is. (Besides video game arcades, laundry, cigarette machines, and trucking. Oh, and the little bit of dabbling in personal loans and politics.)[2]

Stay tuned for next time when the Cheeseheads continue their Southern adventure…

 

[1] How do I know even this much? Because years ago some commercial for NOW That’s Country! was played constantly, and some blond guy with a mustache and cut-off t-shirt kept singing that line in the commercial. I now know that guy’s name was Alan Jackson.

[2] Kudos if you caught my reference to Sixteen Candles. You can sit with us. On Wednesdays we wear pink. (I’ve never seen a footnote to a footnote, but if there were such a thing, there would be a footnote here referencing Mean Girls. I really must stop living my life through movie quotes, but why stop now?)

 

Spinderella Cut It Up One Time (Or, What I’ve Learned from Spin Class) January 29, 2017

1) Don’t Wear Mascara.

The first time I went to a “real” spin studio, I was in the South. From what I’d seen and read (perhaps from Steel Magnolias?) I thought that Southern ladies pretty much slept in their make-up. Therefore I didn’t want to show up to the 6:15 a.m. class looking like…well, looking like my natural self. I put on a little concealer and my normal Dior Show mascara and headed out the door. About one hour later I was literally soaked with sweat but super proud I had done the class while not looking like too much of an idiot. (Wait for it.)  I then walked the 1.5 miles back to my hotel. Only when I got into the bathroom did I realize I had two huge raccoon eyes; that damn drag queen mascara was all over my face. I basically looked like I had just walked out of the Kentucky coal mines after a long days’ work. (And I should know; I’ve watched Coal Miner’s Daughter at least twenty times.

2) The Instructors Look Like Athleta Models.

This, of course, makes me instantly resent them. Many of them have ultra hip names like “West” or “Tedrick” or “Dannan”, a long blonde ponytail, abs of steel, and a sizeable thigh gap even my skinniest self has never seen. They were all former cheerleaders and/or dance squad captains at some big college, and I am constantly left to wonder how the hell they got their bodies. I’m sure it’s not all from spinning, despite what Kelly Ripa may tell you.

3) But I Still Love the Instructors.

Even though I resent their perfect bodies and perky demeanors, I still can’t hate them. The fact is, they’re good and inspiring and so darn nice. One instructor in particular, who reminded me of that perfect blonde Athleta model from every catalog (you know the one I’m talking about, ladies) does a fantastic job of making sure we leave all of our stress, insecurities, pain, etc. at the door and just focus on being good to ourselves. “Nobody is ever as perfect as they seem,” she (ironically?) said to the class. “Everyone has their thing, everyone has their own issues even if they don’t show it.” I couldn’t imagine what perfect blonde Athleta model’s struggles were, but I decided there must be something and just went with it.

4) You Rarely Sit Down.

I don’t know why this was a surprise to me; the instructors sure as hell didn’t get those bodies by taking leisurely rides like they were in a Schwinn banana seat. Once you get on the bike, your keester is up and out of the “saddle” most of the time. Sometimes when they dim the lights really dark I sit down and pretend that nobody can see me, but I know better. Plus I’m too competitive and self-conscious to be sitting too long, so I savor those 5 seconds of rest and then go back for more before the instructor sees me. Yes, it’s painful, but after awhile you get used to it.

5) There’s a Weights Section.

I’m usually jumping for joy and relief when the weights part of the workout rolls around. (Well, okay maybe not jumping…since my thighs are burning so much I pretty much have spaghetti legs by then, if you can imagine spaghetti legs with a little more than the desired amount of thigh meat.) I enjoy the weights because I can rock them out better than a lot of people in class, and for a few minutes I feel better about myself.

6) The Music Keeps Me Coming Back.

Bruno Mars vs. Michael Jackson theme nights? Old School Hip Hop? Yes, please! The music is always fantastically motivating and super loud, and sometimes it makes me forget I’m suffering (and paid an enormous amount of money for a 45-minute class.)

(That reminds me: Must suggest New Edition/Bobby Brown/ BBD theme night, based on recent success and hype of The New Edition Story miniseries. Spin instructors reading this, feel free to use my awesome idea. You’re welcome.)

 

Running Sometimes Makes Me Angry September 5, 2016

Filed under: Humor,Life Lessons,Uncategorized — aniederkorn @ 8:30 am
Tags: ,

I am not a runner. I am someone who sometimes runs and even sometimes signs up for things like 5K’s or even marathon relays, but I still don’t consider myself a runner. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it’s probably because 1) I don’t usually run on a regular basis (unless I’m training for something), and 2) I am slow as sh*t. I figure if I’m ever going to get any enjoyment out of running, I don’t want to suffer too much…hence I keep a very steady and slow pace just to avoid too much discomfort. Most days I would much rather do forty-five minutes of Insanity than run. Running is just such a constant mental battle for me: Can I keep this up? A car is coming, I’m going to speed up a bit. Seriously, how can that only be 1.5 miles? There’s another runner. Do I give him the runner’s nod, even though I clearly am not at his level? Is he mocking me? Etc. Etc.

Besides, I don’t even have a runner’s body; I have a long torso with short legs. A “regular runner’s” stride equals about four of mine. (On a side note, my body is apparently better suited to swimming. I’ve tried swimming fast. It never happens.) The truth is, running can scare the sh*t out of me. And here’s why: I never know when I’m going to have a great run or a terrible run. One day I could be feeling like a rock star and the next I have such a terrible run that I end up questioning my entire fitness level and abilities. And this makes me angry.

If you’re a runner and you enjoy it, I really envy you. I do. You most likely have impossibly long legs and weigh next to nothing. If you think I hate you for this, you’re probably right.

But seriously… if I really examine where my anger towards running comes from, I’d have to look back at my brief and totally non-illustrious personal history with running. I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to this list:

Runners Who Run BEFORE the Race

There are actually people who go on runs around the course before the race even begins. At a high speed. I am not one of those people. I need to conserve every ounce of energy I have before the race, therefore the walk from the parking lot and maybe a few half-assed stretches are all I’ve got. There is no way in hell I’m going to run a 5K before I run a 5K. Who are these show-offs? They’re runners. These people make me angry.

The Walk-Sprint People, a.k.a. Annoying Children

These are the 5K participants who have not prepared in any way for the race, so they decide to do a combination of short sprints followed by walking. They are usually clueless children who had no idea how far a 5K actually was, so they start out the race by sprinting for about a tenth of a mile, then suddenly realize holy sh*t I can’t keep this up (at least that’s what the foul-mouthed children are thinking.) So they walk. The second I catch up to them, they will inevitably start to sprint again. And then they will walk. And then I will catch up to them, and then they will sprint away from me again. We will play this little cat and mouse game almost the entire time until I finally can’t take it anymore and pass those little bastards once and for all.

Jean Shorts Guy

There’s always some scrawny guy in the race who looks like he rolled out of bed, threw on some jean shorts and some Chuck Taylors and decided, “I think I’m going to run this charity 5K today.” Even though the last year of his life consisted mostly of time spent in front of the penny slots machine, he passes me on the course and beats my time by about 10 minutes. Yup. I just got passed by a guy in jean shorts. And you wonder why running sometimes makes me lose my sh*t.

Incompetent Race Direction-Givers

One time a few college students who were supposed to direct people where to go on the course apparently missed the memo…and I went the wrong way.  (Yes, this would only happen to me. As if the actual running part was not hard enough, I now had to guess where to run.) As I passed others who were running the opposite direction, I wanted to scream at the boys: You had ONE JOB PEOPLE!! ONE JOB!! I ended up going about 3.5 or 3.6 miles instead of 3.1. Who knows. All I know is I was suffering badly. But Anne… how does this even happen, you ask? Read on.

Runners Who Run AFTER the Race

So apparently I went the wrong way during a race because I saw some other people way ahead of me…and I followed them. And the direction guys did not stop me. Seems logical, right? Well apparently not, because those people who finish the 5K so frickin’ fast then feel the need to actually go back onto the course and RUN. SOME. MORE. In the wrong direction. In any direction they feel like. So people like me see them and follow them.

Here’s a thought: Once you’re done with the race, F*cking. Stay. Off. The. Course. Want to go run some more? Fine, go knock yourself out. But don’t go back on the course. The fact that I am still struggling to finish while you are doing your “cool down” (at a pace still way more fast than more normal one) only makes me feel bad about myself. Oh, and angry. And here’s another thought: If you like to run so much and wanted to run more than a 5K, then why didn’t you sign up for the half marathon instead? These tiny distances are clearly way too easy for you, and I’d much rather avoid your condescending little looks of encouragement in my direction while you pass me during your cool down.

You’re welcome.

 

Despite all my embarrassing running moments,  there are actual times that running makes me feel good. And perhaps that’s why I continue to do it…to prove I can. To prove that despite my body type and overall general attitude towards running, I can actually do it if I set my mind to it. Even if I’m angry.

 

 

Last Day Abroad July 6, 2016

Filed under: Humor,Life Lessons,Travel — aniederkorn @ 10:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

The year was 1994. I had just finished a semester abroad in Toledo, Spain, followed by about three weeks traveling around Europe on the cheap. My experience was a combination of culture shock, anxiety, enlightenment, and just plain fun. My Spanish was the best it had ever been, and I ate a ton of wonderful Mediterranean food but never gained a pound. (Probably a combination of my twenty-year-old metabolism and the unprocessed, healthy diet). However, by the time late May rolled around I was more than ready to head home.

Let’s start by saying I wasn’t one of those students who came back from abroad and had to make sure everyone around them knew how “worldly” they were. I wasn’t wearing a long peasant dress and constantly working references about Spain into normal conversation just to get attention. Okay so maybe I did think, “Wow, you have no idea how sheltered you are” when I ran into a few people, but for the most part I just felt so lucky that I lived in the United States and could come back to such a wonderful country. I had missed my family and friends so much; with email in its infancy, I had to rely on good old-fashioned letters during my entire stay. I saved every one. I also came to miss the little mundane everyday activities we all took for granted. For example, when I had composed a list of things I wanted to do over the summer, one of them was actually “go grocery shopping”. (Ironic since I now absolutely hate grocery shopping unless it’s Trader Joe’s or Costco.)

Now the second thing you need to know is that I had grown up in a family that was exposed to other cultures quite often. Even though I lived in a small town, my dad was a member of the local Rotary Club that would host exchange students every year. It was common for our family to host students for a weekend here or there; when I was in high school we hosted a Japanese girl for a semester. The whole experience with Rotary was based on kindness, fellowship, and generosity. My family was not compensated for hosting these students; we willingly took them in, took them places, and bought them Christmas gifts as if they were part of the family. That was just the way it was, so I somewhat expected the same kind of treatment when I studied overseas years later. I was so wrong.

So here we are back in Toledo, Spain.My last day abroad. I got up around 5:30 a.m. in order to catch a ride with a neighbor to the bus station. That’s right; my host family had already said their goodbyes the night before and were not actually taking me to the airport about an hour away. This was definitely not the send-off I had expected, but I knew that my host family was being paid to have me in their home. Despite this, I still felt hurt that our friendship was not worth a trip to the airport.

So instead there was Carlos, clearly annoyed he had to bring me to the bus station on his way to work. I struggled to get my suitcases down all the stairs to the waiting bus. Once in Madrid, I managed to find a taxi to the airport, relieved that I was almost there. Until we actually got to the airport, that is. The taxi driver did some calculations on a piece of paper, careful to include my 2 suitcases and the carry-on, then announced that I owed him $120.

Uh…¿disculpe?

I was cranky already and now this guy is trying to rip me off? I didn’t even have $120 on me. And here we had such a nice conversation in Spanish on the ride here…MIERDA.  He tried to play nice and offered to help me with my bags as I went to find an ATM (and a police officer, which I never did find. They were probably on strike. Every other day someone was on strike in that damn country.)

Once I was robbed by the taxi driver I got into the long check-in line. As I was waiting, a chipper lady from the airline approached me and told me that the flight was oversold and she was looking for volunteers for a later flight. Since my family was driving 5-6 hours to O’Hare to meet me, this was out of the question. I smiled at her through gritted teeth and told her no while shaking my head wildly. My crazy eyes seemed to tell her: Leave. Now. 

I checked in, found my gate and settled into a chair, now more than ever just wanting to get home to my land of Taco Bell and peanut butter. But alas my hell was not over. Soon after I sat down, a forty-something Spanish man decided to lie across the chairs directly across from me. He closed his eyes and seemed to be hunkering down for a pre-flight nap. But first, he had to take care of a little business. And by business, I mean sticking his hand down his pants and scratching like he had pants full of poison oak topped with mosquito bites, then sprinkled with an allergic reaction. He was not adjusting any balls, he was not playing with himself…he was just SCRATCHING.

I looked around the gate. Uh…yeah, is anyone else seeing this? Why isn’t anyone else looking disgusted? What is wrong with you people? This guy is rubbing himself so much his balls have turned into one huge human scratch-off ticket.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about kissing the ground when I landed in D.C.

Try not to be ethnocentric. Try not to be ethnocentric. Try not to ethnocentric.

Hell, all bets were off at that point. I can still appreciate other cultures and celebrate their differences while thinking my country is the best, right? Everyone should think their own country is the best! (I can’t speak for those countries that are so corrupt and full of terrorism that people need to leave – of course in that case then yes get the hell out.) But I’m not going to apologize for loving my country. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Happy belated Independence Day, everyone! And may your days abroad be safe, merry and scratch-free.