You know how in those diner movies or the ones where the main character works at a diner, there's always that one guy - who's usually old - who comes in every single day and orders the exact same thing.
Yeah, that's me. I'm a regular!
You see, there's a McDonald's on my way to work. Right there, just before the turn into my workplace. It was tempting me to spend money that I don't have! How dare they taint the air with the delicious smell of hash browns!
And one day, about two weeks into working at the summer camp, I had about twenty minutes of extra time before I needed to clock in. Surprisingly there was no traffic. And looking at my clock and smelling the delicious smells, I figured that I had time for a detour. That day I went through the Drive-Thru and ordered a Bacon & Egg McGriddle hold the cheese, with hash brown and a Strawberry Milkshake. Their ice cream machine was broken - go figure - so I didn't get the milkshake. In hindsight, I guess my lactose intolerant butt should have been happy that I didn't get one. But I wasn't. Nevertheless, that day begin six more weeks of McDonald's breakfast stops, and without fail every morning til my last day of work, I went and got something. Some mornings were different than others. Like when I was heading to work straight from my boyfriend's house, I would order a small French Vanilla Latte. I hate coffee, but I was in desperate need of the caffeine. Or on days that I knew I probably wouldn't eat lunch, I'd order three hash browns. And when they fixed the machine I started getting my Strawberry Milkshakes. Which would catch up to me in no less than a hour.
I'm not sure why but I have a strange love for milk.
Anyway, because I was going so often I became pretty familiar with the morning staff. Some morning I would roll up and as I began my order they would already have it punched in. Or they knew the size of my drink if I forgot to say it. I mean I went pretty frequently and I ordered the same things almost every time, so it was bound to happen. What can I say? I'm a creature of habit.
Now I only wonder if they miss me as camp is now over and I have yet to return to McDonald's.
I went to summer camp every summer every until I was fourteen. Then my mom made me volunteer there. Well, she didn't make me. I thought I was going to get paid. I didn't.
With all that being said, those summer were the best of my life. I made friends I would have never otherwise met. I tried things I would have never otherwise known about. And I went on adventures that were once in a lifetime experiences. Each summer was a different one. Which was why I was so excited to start working at a summer camp this year. But first all, let me say working at a summer camp and playing at one are two very different experiences. Working there you get to see all the behind the scene events and running around that make a summer camp so cool. Besides the very obvious aspect of it being super stressful, it was crazy fun.
I worked at a country club summer camp where the kids were broken up into two groups. Bigs (age 7-10) and littles (3-6). I worked with the littles mostly but occasionally with the bigs. Just depended on who was there that week. And each week had a different theme! Overall, we were looking for Tinkerbell. She had gotten lost. Again. So we were visiting all the Disney characters across the world to help us find her. The first week we went to Greece to talk to Hercules and Phil. Herc was little help. He was too busy trying to impress Megara. However Phil was able to point us the right way. So week two we find ourselves in Ireland with Merida! She sent us to Build-A-Bear so we could all get our own animal guides. Once we had our bears she was able to give directions to China to talk to Mulan. She was pretty busy saving all of China from the Huns and stuff but she did take to the time to point out Tink's path. Apparently, she saw a trail of pixie dust headed to France! So we went to Paris to talk to Remy and Alfredo, and of course have a big plate of
Ratatouille. It was weird eating with a rat but he heard that Tink was Hawaii. She headed back to the ol' US of A. We caught a plane to Kaua'i and sat down with Nani. Lilo was busy trying to keep Stitch out of trouble. It didn't work very well. But Nani heard something about Tinkbell being in London. So we jumped on another plane and wandered into Hundred Acre Wood. Christopher Robin just so happened to be there pulling Winnie the Pooh out of yet another honey jar. Fortunately for us, along with the last drop of honey at the bottom of the jar, Pooh also spotted Tinkerbell headed to Germany. So for week seven we went to talk to Rapunzel. We didn't stay. She had a lot of princess business to catch up on. (You know, from being locked in a tower for most of her life.) So Eugene - a.k.a Flynn Rider a.k.a Prince Eugene Fitzherbert - sent us to Africa. I won't lie, talking with a full grown lion was scary for some of the kids, but while we were there we got to see Simba's epic story on the big screen the day it came out! That really warmed us up to him. Then he sent us Denmark where we spoke the littlest mermaid, Princess Ariel. My my my! She truly helped us. With her aid we were able to find a map to Tink! First we had to fight off pirates and tick tock crocodiles but we were able to make to Neverland. And low and behold! There she was locked in a trunk by those pesky pirates! One of the kids told me that we should have just started here, it would saved us a lot time in hindsight. Did I mention these were really intelligent for their age. But anyway, we had finally found Tinkerbell and we threw a huge party in celebration. I was a fabulous time.
I remember when my imagination was that grand, so immersive that even now in my memory it registers as an actual fairy flying around my head. It was so beautiful to see all those kids so crazy happy and excited. All the work we did to make it happen, however physically grueling and and tiring it was, I would do it all again. Sure, my feet, back, arms, hands and anything that moved on my body ached by the end of the day. And by the end of the week all I wanted to do was sleep. Yet, just to see the glow in their eyes, I could find the energy to do it again.
Friday was my last day, and I was so sad to go. But I'm really glad I have the memories. Oh, and thanks to all my co-workers who were working just as furiously hard as I did! It's been great guys!
Until next summer!
A weeks ago my brother was eating a pie. One of those mini personal ones that you get from Walmart or Safeway. I thought very little of it and continued what I was doing. But a few more bites in, it occurred to me that I've never really eaten a pie. I mean, once like 2 years ago at Thanksgiving but I don't think I've had one since then. So when I found myself in Phoenix, I jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
While on a trip with my boyfriend, I roped him into going to a pie shop with me. It was Mamma Toledo's The Hole Pie. It's a little place located on the corner of a strip mall on 7th Street. It's a family-owned, hole in the wall type. The interior was that of a 80's diner. Polka dots everywhere. But the best part was getting to sit down with the owner's daughter, Sarah Saidi.
According to her, mamma wasn't much of baker at the beginning. But after having to change her career goals, she started baking and selling out of her house. When she started garnering popularity, was when Sarah and her sister were recruited to help out. Now, with so much attention they needed a name to put on the pies. A title people could come looking for and they settled on Mamma's Toledo's. "Why Toledo's?" You must be wondering. "Where did it come from?" Well, they made it up! Mamma was thinking about changing her name for a half minute and from the brainstorming came their family business. And not long after, a food truck was carrying the name all around town. A few years after that so did their current shop. Two before this one.
Of course, there was one final question that needed answering while I was in the shop. "How was the pie?" So before I wrapped up my interview, I asked Ms. Saidi two things.
1. Let's say, for instance, that I've never eaten pie in my entire life and I just find myself here, at Mamma Toledos', what would recommend me?
2. And on the opposite end, let's say I eat pie everyday all day, do you have anything unique that I should try here?
She recommended me their fan favorite, the Brown Sugar Peach for the newbie. She told me to eat it warm with a little bit of ice on top. She also suggested I try the Banana Cream and Raspberry Cream Cheese, which were the two that I got. And for our experience pie man, she suggested their signature Green Chili Apple and Mango Chili Lime. I got the Green Chili Apple and ooh boy! I was excited.
First, I tried the Green Chili Apple. With apple being the only pie I had a reference for it only made sense that's where I begin. Of course, with the spice of the chili it transforms the tradition. One can really catch the inspiration as new age. Something different than what the average pie eater might find. The filling is gooey and soft when warmed up. The crust is a delicious crisp contrast to the soft center.
Then I tried the Raspberry Cream. It's very familiar to Raspberry Cheesecake. It's light and fluffy. It's surprisingly refreshing for being a pie. The whipped cream drop on top is to dir for! It's a nice sweet interruption from the tart raspberry. Now, I must say that I'm not usually a fan of raspberry and I might have came in a little biased. But my mind had been changed. Next time I get a raspberry anything it will be from Mamma Toledo's!
Then finally, I tried the Banana Cream. I knew I was gonna love this before I even saw it. It had a soft pudding-like interior with chunks of banana. The crust was light but spectacularly firm. It held its shape well (even after my boyfriend's job of cutting it).
Overall, the stop is worth it. Two pies up!
I like food. A lot. I like how it feels in my tummy. I like how feels in my mouth. And more importantly I like how it tastes.
Now with all that being said, my culinary palette is extremely narrow. What can I say? I like what I like. And that's not a lot. As far as I know. You see, I haven't really tried a lot of things so I wouldn't really know if I liked them or not. I mean, would you believe me if I said I've only ever had apple pie. One time. That's true.
So I made a decision. I was going to eat a bunch of food. New food. I was going to eat a bunch of new food. But then the 'how' came into perspective. Was I gonna make all this food? How would I that? I didn't even know how it was suppose to taste like. Or look like for that matter. Ok, so I would buy it. Where would I go? Where would I start? So I took a day - literally, like 28 hours - and did some research and made a plan. I broke up everything I wanted to try up into categories. Pie, Sushi, Ribs, and the like. And before you ask, no, I have never had sushi. Then I went about looking for places that were close to me to try it. I mean, I couldn't go all the way to Tokyo. I'm a budget! I decided to stay in Arizona. And anywhere in Arizona is fair game. I asked my peers, my co-workers, yelp, and everyone in between for some of their favorite places across the AZ in these specific categories. Apparently, Yuma has some hot topic seafood that I need to try.
So over the next couple of months - probably the rest of the year - I'm going to be traveling around Arizona trying some of the best foods from local businesses. That means they are only in Arizona. And I'll be telling you guys all about it. So if you wanna to try them, you gotta get out here. Can't find it sitting in New York.
*Phew* I'm about to embark on a very expensive adventure.
I am currently in the process of creating a Fuck It List. Yes, you read that correctly. I said Fuck It list. It is drastically different from a Bucket List. Those are made when you’re ready to die. You know, you’ve lived your best life and there are just a few things left to be done. Like skydiving or bungee jumping.
In contrast, a Fuck It List are things that if done you could very well result in death. A very painful death. And, yes, I’m prone to injury, so is making this list the smartest thing I could do? Absolutely not. Should I do this? A resounding no. But am I going to? Undoubtedly.
So, I want to begin the list with walking through fire. Not hot coals. I mean like there’s a fire pit, ten to twenty feet long. And I just wanna walk through it, butt naked, full on Daenerys Targaryen style.
Then I wanna flip a car. You know like, in action movies when the protagonist flips their car, and it’s really bad, and really intense, and the audience is stiff holding their breath to see if they crawl out.
Yeah, I wanna do that.
Then crash a plane. Not terrorist style. More like, it’s just me and I’m flying around, feeling myself, and then I just take a nosedive into the ocean.
I can’t swim.
So I wanna wrestle a bear. Have you ever seen someone wrestle a bear?
I haven’t either.
But I’ve heard about it and I imagine that it’s really scary. Adrenaline pumping hardcore. Yeah, that’s what I’m about.
Then wrestle an alligator.
Yeah. Then race an active volcano. So the volcano erupts, right? And lava is just slipping down the side. Then there’s little ole me just there. Trying to beat the molten the lava to safety. It may sound easy because lava just kind of pulses down the mountain fairly slowly. However, there is smoke and the strain to breathe needs to be factored in. Along with the ashes and the and the increasing loss of visibility.
It’ll be a challenge.
Then I wanna race an avalanche. Which is basically the same in opposite terrain. Just the smoke and ash aren’t a problem. And the snow will be moving at a much faster rate.
Then I'm gonna disappear in a forest. You know how in horror movies. There's always that one girl who gets mad at everyone and runs off by herself. Then she's murdered immediately. I wanna try it. See what happens.
Then wrestle a lion.
And go hitchhiking. People do it all the time. Sure only 24% of people are murdered or kidnapped whilst hitchhiking. However, factor in that I am female and black and will undoubtedly be doing this in the south, that number skyrockets to 89%.
So.. that’s a really bad idea. I’m actually going to remove that from the list.
Then I wanna swing from one ledge to another over a chasm. You know those deep canyons that make you sick to even look down. I wanna swing over one Tarzan style.
Then I wanna swim cross the Atlantic. That’s not really all that dangerous but I can’t swim and I feel like the panic of drowning will propel me through the water so..
Then I want to go on a ride along to an active crime scene. To maybe a shoot out with a drug cartel or something. Yeah, that seems like a stupidly good idea.
Then wrestle a shark.
And that's my list. You only live once, so fuck it! Am I right?
I came to this university for the sole purpose of seeing snow. I didn’t look at the academic programs, the student atmosphere, or even the tuition costs… and that’s why I’m in debt. I literally left my toasty home to come to the freezing mountains with no preparation or forethought. I just threw my stuff in a bag and bounced. Those from southern Arizona know how sticky hot it can get in August. It’s like a sauna everywhere. So, the 80s and 75s here, were a welcomed abnormality. And for the first couple of months I was content. Well, aside from the raging homesickness, I was content.
Then winter rolled around. This year, first snow was in late November. The 28th to exact. Oh, why do I remember that day? Good question. I remember it being that day precisely because my mom had called me that morning. She had been working on convincing me to transfer to the university back home. I won’t lie, by that point I had really been considering it. I had already gotten a taste of living in a four-season city, and I was not fond of it. Moving here, allotted me the understanding that I don’t like the cold and that I find my bones freezing dangerously uncomfortable. The thing is, I was sourly unprepared for a “real winter.” I didn’t have snow boots, still don’t, or an effective jacket.
So, my mom’s call came with the advice that I should sit down with my advisor and look at the next steps to out of here. I did. But on my way there, I realized how little traction converse have. I slipped and ate it. Hard. Just outside the Student Success Center. I even cut my knee on a random piece of ice, ripping my jeans, my favorite jeans. And had my ignominy not been enough, some guy standing outside started laughing. Laughing so hard, even, he had to walk away, shaking his head in belief. I went into that meeting with a new determination… and blood streaming down my leg.
Fortunately, I was confronted with the news that I wouldn’t be able to transfer the next semester like I planned. My financial aid wouldn’t allow it. I was going to have to wait until the following fall, unless, of course, I planned on being buried in my debts instead of a coffin. So, I buckled down.
It was about a week later and it had just snowed. Again. I was walking back to my dorm from the movie theatre with a friend of mine. It was late and it was cold, and we thought we heard screaming. We had. As we rounded our street, we saw ten, maybe fifteen, dudes rolling a massive snow ball across the street to the field. We couldn’t just leave then. So, we found ourselves hanging out with them. Five of them had been friends prior to this event and we were standing outside, in the cold, for a about three hours with them. Why we didn’t just go into we were standing in front of? I don’t know. But standing there I realized that I was chatting with the guy who had mocked at me a week before. So, I confronted him.
“Hey, you’re the guy who laughed at me for eating it out outside the Student Success Center.”
He said he didn’t remember that, and even now he denies it, but I know it was him. By the end of the night we had exchanged contact info with everyone and through the rest of semester we continued to hang out with them. We found that they were not a typical group of men. In the traditional sense they are rowdy and somewhat annoying, and generally ignored the fact that some things just shouldn’t be done on a college campus. But they are also the coolest, wildest, smartest dumb shits I have ever met; and just before winter break, we had officially infiltrated their group.
Whilst on my break I found myself looking forward to my return. Don’t get me wrong, I needed the time off, but I was excited for what was in store for the next semester. Having done no research prior to applying, I pleasantly surprised to find that the writing programs here were going to serve me well. Being a Creative Writing major was looking like it going to have a large pay out. So, I was thrilled to head back and trudge through the snow again. And upon my return I saw my rowdy boys.
Which brings me to last night, when I was again, hanging out these extravagantly weird dudes. We were playing Cards Against Humanity and I’m not sure why, but I looked up at my best friend who was laughing like an idiot, at my roommate who was disappointed with her hand, and at the rest of the rambunctious group, and I regretted nothing. Even today, on this very snowy day, I’m glad I decided to come. And I’m glad I decided to stay.
A Twisted Fate is now officially in the amazon store. Well, it was in stores officially five days ago. But I just made the website so I'm bragging about it now.
It's awesome right? It's my first website so I don't really know.
Anyway, I'm gonna be posting here with updates about book tours and other publishing events so check this out for new information.
Oh and also here's a link to the book:
That's all for today, folks. Stay happy!