The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Nashville - Day One - Standing Next To Dustin Lynch!

After we went to Snooze for breakfast; loving the food there, the service, and the vintage d├ęcor, we headed to Broadway! Honky Tonk Central. 

It was about 9:15 am, gray, cool, raining on and off. 

Broadway is one long street with tall bars on every floor, many with rooftops. The buildings stand like linebackers, some are flashy, some are more humble, but they are all huddled together, keeping a watchful eye on the drinkers, the dancers, the homeless people with their funny signs (I need money for a hooker. Let's go Brandon. I need money for weed. I need money for a penis transplant, FK Joe Biden!). Watching as the singers walk around with guitars strapped on their backs, as band members roll amps and drums on wheeled carts. They watched as men unloaded beer from long trucks and disappeared into the Honky Tonks with case after case after case. 

John and I had the whole street to ourselves, practically. My body was shot through with adrenaline. I'm here! We made it! If I die now, I die happy! (Well, okay, I'd have liked to listen to a band or two, but that was going to happen soon enough!) 

The rain was now heavier, and John and I dipped under a closed bar with an awning. Several homeless men were wandering around, muttering to themselves. We live near Philly, so this is nothing new. If anything, these homeless people were more polite, much quieter. And later, once Broadway started filling up, they would whip out the entertaining signs. 

Tootsies was supposed to open at 9:30. It didn't. So we ventured into a gift shop looking for an umbrella. They only have the very tall kind, like you'd use on a golf course. Or maybe in a back alley as a weapon. 

We were surprised how actually SMALL the area was that we were in.  The Ryman was merely yards away, and the Predator arena was across the street. 

We wandered down the street, toward The Stage and John Rich's place, then crossed the street to Kid Rock, Luke Bryans, and Jason Aldeans. (Fun Fact, they are all owned by one corporation). There were cameras set up on the sidewalk in front of Aldeans. People huddled under the roof/awning. People scurrying about carrying microphones. 

I ducked in and tried to blend into the small crowd. 

"What are you doing?!" John is a rule follower. 

"Just trying to figure it out. Maybe we'll see a famous singer!"

I pressed up against the brick wall, and about an arms length away from me was a short guy wearing a backwards baseball cap. 

Ok. There are many guys walking around baseball caps in Nashville...but this guy...

"I think that's Dustin Lynch." I told John. 

Remember, John isn't a Country fan. He'd know Toby Keith, Blake, Morgan Wallen, Hardy, Ern, Miranda, Carrie, and of course, Dolly. 

I had to pull up photos of Dustin Lynch on Google. 

"I don't think it's him." John said. 

"It could be him." 

"Go tell him you're his biggest fan and see what he says." 

But I'm not his biggest fan, and at the moment, every song he sang escaped me. 

So, it wasn't until they started "rolling" the cameras that we found it, indeed, it was Dustin Lynch

After we found out who he was, we left, headed to Tootsies.  The sun started to come out, but I stopped at another gift store to inquire about small umbrellas. 

Behind the counter were three lanky young guys. 

"Dustin Lynch is right next door!" I told them. 

"Who?" None of them knew Dustin Lynch. 

None of them even liked Country Music. 

I couldn't imagine working in a store, in a town like that. It would be like me working at a gift store at a Soccer stadium, where the only music they played was a mixture of Punk Rock and Tool. 

Anyway, they only had large umbrellas, so off we went. 

We were only a few feet away when a woman chased us down. She had remembered seeing a box of small umbrellas in the stock room. I picked out a red one, and away we went. I was touched by the gracious customer service. And the rest of the day, we saw those little red and blue umbrellas everywhere we went. So her good deed, also paid off in sales for the store!

Almost 10 am now, had only been in town for 3 hours, and I'd had the best Bloody Mary ever (Snooze),  had a celebrity "run in", found a small umbrella (thanks to great Southern Hospitality customer service) and now we were heading back to Tootsies - the tall lavender building that would bet the first official "Honky Tonk" to start off our day. 

“Nashville is wicked. It’s like a proper music community, but it’s also quintessentially american. You bump into people there with cowboy hats that spit in jars and call you ‘boy.’ I just love that.” – Ed Sheeran

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Nashville - Dreams Come True - Day One


It was "my" place. 

My destination vacation dream. 

Then, in 2019, when my husband was retiring in 2020 and he warned me, "DO NOT PLAN ANY PARTIES FOR HIM." I promised I would NOT PLAN ANY PARTIES FOR HIM. 

He had told me once something like that, I didn't listen, and boy was he mad. 

But. I mean. Retiring. A cop? A K9 cop? 

I called one of his friends, my heart thudding like the midnight train that flies by our town every night, and said, "Ok, maybe we just surprise him with a few people at MaGerks. Just a few."

Five minutes later I called back; "Forget it. No one. He'll be mad. Maybe not. But Dude, I will be nervous from now until April 4th of next year. It's not worth the anxiety of wondering if he'll be mad or not!"

He always stressed to me: "If I die in the line of duty, I don't want a big deal made of it!" He didn't like Commendations, trophies, etc. He's just the kind of guy; he does a good job, he knows it, the people that count know it, and that's all that matters. 


Imagine my surprise. 

When he texts me at work, that "GUESS WHAT? A few of the guys are taking me to Nashville for my retirement." 

Nashville huh? 

The only reason John even knew of Luke Combs or Morgan Wallen was because I played them!

So, I did the only thing I could do...I bought a ticket to go by myself (flights were super cheap on SouthWest - 49 bucks!). If you can't join them, go later and enjoy! I really only cared about listening to LIVE COUNTRY MUSIC. Not about getting drunk and sloppy (I've had about 30 years of practice at that). 

Then Covid happened. 


Being stuck together for over a year, John learned much more about Country music than he ever wanted to. Now we had Hardy and Ern in the rotation, and even some Walker Hayes (only if he was feeling really generous!) Our local bars, the kind with juke boxes, also really got to know Morgan, Hardy, and Ern. I'm sure Cross Roads and Skyline couldn't have pushed us out the door fast enough to get us to Nashville!

A few weeks into 2022, prior to Inflation and Heart Attack Gas Prices, Southwest Airlines was having a 59 sale to Nashville. Nonstop. The departure times were perfect. I had a credit I needed to use by the end of the year, and asked John if he'd want to go. He said sure. 

We were scheduled to leave on April 5th, Tuesday. 

That weekend, call it weather, systems glitches, or what you will, but Southwest cancelled almost half a thousand flights. (They weren't the only airline to do so.)

Maybe Nashville was just not in my cards. And in case they weren't in my cards, we eyed a get out of the house since we have a wonderful dog sitter scheduled, to Jim Thorpe. Been there a thousand times, but what's ONE MORE? 

But by Monday, Southwest seemed to get it's propellers spinning, and by Tuesday morning at 7:10 am, we were IN NASHVILLE!

I was so excited to see EVERYTHING COUNTY just as soon as we stepped off the airplane and into airport. There was a SINGER singing in a little cafe! 

It was raining, but the wonderful Airbnb we were staying in said we could check in as soon as we landed (AMAZING!!!! I know some Airbnb's dislike the "early" request, and we were pushing it with an 8am arrival, but...WOW!! (Here's the wonderful link for the beautiful Jill and Buds Nashville Airbnb ). 

Oh, on top of it all, we took our first Uber ride ever. Yes, we've been living in the dark ages.

After we dropped off our stuff, we headed to Snooze East Nashville . Love the decor. Very vintage! I started the day off with a Bloody Mary and some peppered/maple bacon. Our server had just moved from California (she's be the second transplant from CA we'd meet) and was LOVING Nashville. 

So far, so good. And we're just getting started! Stay tuned for Part Two: We discover we are standing next to Dustin Lynch but don't want to be making it obviously that we are standing next to DUSTIN LYNCH. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Amazing Marketing Diet

 This bacon, butter,  and martini lover (separately, of course) is suddenly faced with all the markers of heart disease: elevated blood work, a heart that has been wonk for years, but is now slightly more wonky. And my body went from fit to fluffy. Kardashians might like a big butt and hips, but my body (and my knees) do not. 

So now, I find myself (gasp) cutting things down, or completely out. 

If you know me, you know I've followed and tried just about every trendy diet. 

I've been fluffy and I've been thin. I love being thin mostly because it was easy to shop at thrift stores and basically anything I wore looked amazing. And I felt amazing. And I was also recycling!

Anyway, this morning I was examining the box of Low Sugar oatmeal the husband had in the cupboard. 

I'm trying to cut back on carbs (and do you know blackberries have a lot of carbs, granted, the "good kind" but still..." 

I'm also trying to stay away from gluten. Years ago, blood work pointed towards gluten intolerance. But then a year later it was better (and I never really stopped eating gluten, just cut back). 

The oatmeal box did not say it was gluten free, BUT, it did say it was heart healthy and could reduced cholesterol. 

And while I was reading that box, Ed Bernays (known as the father of public relations) popped into my mind. I've studied him, marketing, and propaganda extensively. 

Was it hearth healthy? Or did Quaker Oats fund some organization to do a "study" where the end results would be that YES, Quaker Oats is healthy for your heart. 

We love anything that promises to make us feel better, look better, and is scientifically proven or recommended by doctors. Doctors are generally a trusted group. 

Ed Bernays knew that. And almost every marketing campaign he worked on, he used "studies" to show how a product would benefit our human instincts to be better, belong, be someone, and be in control. 

And even though I  know this, I still fall for marketing promises.  

I put the oatmeal box back. It wasn't gluten free, and I haven't reached the point I am willing to eat oatmeal without some butter and brown sugar. 

So, I'll just stick to what has worked for me in the past: small meals, low carbs, as few preservatives as possible, non saturated fats (I'll never say goodbye to butter or bacon - what's the point of living without a little pleasure! - I'll just cut back on them). 

When I was in Paramedic school, P.A. Richard Lang did some of our cardiac courses. I'll never forget he said: "You can do all the right things: eat healthy, work out, be very fit, but some people simply have in in their genetics and there is little you can do to stop heart disease or cardiac death." Honesty. No sugar coating it, and though he said diet and exercise and not smoking or drinking can help, there are some cases it wouldn't make a difference. 

Though we have so many resources at our fingertips these days, it's challenging to know what sources are authentic, and what sources are corrupted by studies financed by organizations in order to sell their product and profit. 

You can never go wrong with common sense. Though these days, even common sense is being subverted by experts trying to sell you on the fact that common sense isn't as smart as the product they are selling.