You’re a Badass, Dolly Parton

Female is not synonymous with helpless. If you listen to the noise, you might think so. But the truth is, women have been using stilettos to kick out the glass ceiling since Cleopatra reigned supreme.

Kicking down glass in torturous shoes to change the world, prove our value, and realize our dreams isn’t easy. Easy would be to throw up our hands and scream about how unfair we have it and demand that everyone just give us stuff cuz we have boobies and can’t get paid. Easy would be to not even try. But that’s not the example I want for my daughter. And that’s not the opinion I want my son to have of women.

Yes, we have to work harder.  Yes, we have to have a curfew and can’t join anyone on business dinners because we can’t be out past dusk because we might be sexual prey.  Yes, we have to overcome adversity that only we can understand. And, yes, that can be frustrating and overwhelming to the point of questioning whether or not it’s worth even trying to get ahead. But luckily, we have examples; strong, inspirational women who have paved a way for us so that we can pave further for those who come after us. I don’t want the blood, sweat, and tears of those women to be for naught. If they can make the world a better place, we all can improve it a little more. I want to follow their example. So I figured what better way to start than to study the directions left by those great, inspirational females. And here, with this post, the journey of exploration and learning begins.

I’ve spent weeks pouring over Wikipedia and other parts of the internets to learn more about a woman that has been one of my idols since I first heard the song Jolene and saw The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at an age when I didn’t even know whorehouses had competitions. Yes, I’m highlighting the badassery of the one- the only- Mrs. Dolly Rebecca Parton. So, without further ado: I present to you a mostly thorough list of all the ways that Dolly Parton is a badass.

Dolly’s done it the “right” way

All of us Dolly- hards (that’s the name I’ve decided to give us Dolly fans) already know the origin story: she was born in a one-room cabin, deep in the Tennessee country. By all accounts no one outside of Pittman Center, TN should know her name. That in and of itself places her high on my list of awesomeness.

But she didn’t have a “win at all costs” mentality, clawing her way to the top while stepping over anyone she could to get what she wanted.  Dolly knew her end game. She was hyper-focused on becoming a country singer since the age of 6 and she did just that in a way that elevated the lives of those around her and she’s never lost sight of who she is and where she came from.

Dolly’s taken advantage of the opportunities that came her way

When Porter Wagoner invited Dolly to be his sidekick on The Porter Wagoner Show, she knew that this wasn’t the end game for her career.  She was still focused on becoming a solo artist.  But that didn’t keep her from seeing the advantage of taking the job.  While it would curve her path to solo success, what it DID afford her was a weekly audience.  She gave herself a timeline.  Dolly promised herself that she would give it five years.  She ended up giving that show seven years of her career.  It made her a household name and Dolly left the Porter Wagoner Show with connections in both music and TV.  While it wasn’t exactly what she wanted, she saw the end game.  

In addition to being on The Porter Wagoner Show, Dolly proved her business savvy when she partnered with her uncle Bill Owens to form Owe-Par Publishing.  Dolly knew that she needed to protect her songs if she was going to have any type of say in her work.   

Dolly Parton remembered where she came from

When Dolly’s solo career took off in the 70’s and 80’s, she knew that she wanted to give back to the community that helped raised her.  To do so, she used her new resources and the business savvy she inherited from her dad to buy a share of an old amusement park and start Dollywood, bringing thousands of jobs to the people of her Tennessee hometown and the surrounding areas.  Not only that, she’s also started a book gifting program called Imagination Library that mails free books to children.

So, what are you trying to tell me?

Hard work pays off.  Not sure if you realized this or not, but Dolly Parton has written over THREE THOUSAND songs!  I can’t even write 25 Thank You notes after my daughter’s birthday party!  This is the work ethic and drive that sets success apart from mediocrity. 

Dolly rose to the top because of the positive support of her family, her intuition, her drive, her work ethic, and a little luck.  She’s a role model because of her kind spirit and selflessness.  If Dolly’s taught us “Dolly-Hards” anything, it’s that success is possible and you don’t have to walk over everyone to get it.  So stop making excuses and go get the life you want!!!

 

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Why We Wine

Adults Know All

When I was a kid dreaming of becoming the famous person that I am, all the grown ups around me seemed to have life figured out. They had it together. Bills paid, scheduled car maintenance, starched clothes that looked professional and well-planned, mortgages, taxes, family organizational skills… all the adults were killin it as far as I could tell. All of them. {Except the guy that owned the store that we all knew was a cover for his weed business. But that guy served a different purpose.} I always assumed that there was some magical age where I would start wearing matching socks and get regular oil changes. I’ve since learned that there is no magical age. Turns out, grown ups in the ‘90’s were just really good at faking it (wink, wink).

Reality Bites

Based on my juvenile observations, adulthood wasn’t supposed to be chaotic and overwhelming. Finding love was never supposed to lead to heartache. Parenthood isn’t supposed to feel impossible. BUT IT IS, IT DID, AND IT DOES! Let me tell you a little secret if you haven’t discovered it for yourself already: the grown up world is rotten with the stench of reality. A reality that would be much more palatable if it weren’t falsely presented as perfection to us as kids through TV and movies, leaving songs such as “Purple Rain”, “You Outta Know”, and “Here I Go Again” my only hint as to the truth of reality. [And, I don’t know about you, but I thought “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers was really a song about a secret Asian man, and that’s just ONE example, so you can understand the messages of song were lost on me.]

For example: Walt Disney is a lying arsehole. I’ve never met a guy who would attempt to slay a dragon for my honor. I HAVE, however, met a few guys who would named their man hose “Dragon”. If Sleeping Beauty (AKA, the princess I most identify with) met a guy that her family warned her against, who lied and manipulated his way into her heart, knocked her up, then left her for someone younger and more ethnically diverse, I’d say he was describing my first marriage. It would be a warning to all little girls to look out for liars. And it would be useful. But that’s not what he did. So I thought all guys were protective and chivalrous… turns out, some of them are… noooooot.

Also, whoever wrote the Brady Bunch is a lying arsehole. Families don’t resolve their differences in 30 minutes or less. I didn’t know that and didn’t understand why my sister and I were still arguing after 31 minutes. I have one family member who has been holding a grudge against me for YEARS. But, then again, we don’t have Alice with her quick quips to help us see the light of reason.

Additionally, the guy who started Pinterest: AN ABSOLUTE ARSEHOLE. Pinterest is the sole reason women everywhere feel inadequate upon seeing our results after trying to bake from scratch the impossible candy-filled unicorn mirror glazed cake. And don’t get me started on the homemade charcoal mask that takes the top 6 layers of your face off. Could we get a social media platform that bakes the cake for us? Cuz that would be great. Oh, wait. Hey, Uber Eats! How you doin’?

The last example provided in this super-impactful, news-worthy, and vividly-made point: the male creator of Wonder Woman is a lying arsehole. When I run around in the same outfit as Wonder Woman, no cool music plays, I don’t gain any super human fighting skills, and people threaten to call the police. Also, I’m still waiting on my magic lasso, which, by the way, has yet to even SHIP! I bet it doesn’t even work.

All these realizations have culminated into a big let down. You know how you felt when you learned that Santa, the Easter Bunny, AND the Tooth Fairy were all made up? Yeah, like that. I feel like that every. single. day.

It’s Fine

Because reality has been a bit different than I imagined, I’ve found ways to cope with the misalignment of expectations. For example: “It’s fine.” I say that a lot. It’s such a versatile phrase! Shat goes south but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s survivable- “it’s fine”. My husband picks a restaurant I don’t really want to go to because he’s super healthy and I just want fried chicken bathed in honey mustard and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert but I don’t want to disagree because I’m a hopeless co-dependent AND I want to pretend like PMS isn’t ruling my life right now- “it’s fine”. My son strings gum out of his mouth and then wraps it around his neck before I can stop him- “it’s fine”. My daughter makes muffins and dumps half of the batter on the floor and now the dogs are “cleaning up the chocolate chips”- “it’s fine”. My dog gets scared by a passing dump truck and poo’s on the floor minutes before our house warming party… you guessed it! But sometimes “it’s fine” doesn’t work.

Now What?

We don’t have to go very far to hear what we’re doing wrong. We don’t exercise enough. We exercise too much. We shouldn’t dress like a school marm. We should really dress more conservatively. Have a career. Don’t work so much. Let your kids sleep in your bed. Don’t. You’ll kill them with your fat rolls. Don’t hug your kids too much… they’ll spoil. Discipline your kids, but not THAT way. Count calories, count fat grams, count carbs, eat carbs, don’t eat carbs, kale is all you should eat, and cauliflower is pizza now. Take meds to manage the stress, don’t take meds to manage the stress. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE! Who does? Who can tell me what to do cuz I have no fuq’n clue.

We are doing our best some days just to keep everything going. Relationships, careers, parenthood, expectations pile up like the unfolded laundry mountain and it’s easy to find yourself crying in a closet firmly grasping a bottle of champagne (hey, at least I keep it classy). But what if we were all more honest and forgiving with each other? What if we stopped hiding behind the fake perfection of staged social media pictures and smiles and showed what it’s REALLY like to be a grownup so that maybe it’ll be a little easier for those who will go through this stage of life after us? What if by sharing the hardships we all learn how normal it is to cry in the closet, go on mini-vacations to Target, or hide from our kids in the bathroom for just one moment of peace so that the next new mommy who comes along doesn’t think she’s doing EVERYTHING wrong?

You’re Enough

What’s rare to hear is what we’re doing RIGHT. Have you ever received a genuine and sincere compliment that has stuck with you all day, maybe for years? How great is that feeling?! What if we did more of that instead of breaking each other down so that we could feel superior for one second? We are more prepared for any journey when someone who’s already traveled that path tells us what to look out for. What if we did that for each other more often?

Yes, life is hard. Some good, some bad, some stupid… But there’s so much humor and beauty and good in the imperfect. If you ask me, that’s where the stories are. So, grab a glass of wine and accept the chaos. And maybe snap of picture of it. #whywomenwine We’ll swap war stories.

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8 Things to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day that won’t get you laughed at or punched

What to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day

The target audience for this post is a bit different than usual, ok a LOT. As in opposite. So, ladies, read this through and if it applies to you, feel free to forward to your Valentine. I’ll drop the not-so-subtle hints for you.

Cynical, snarky, jaded, sarcastic, whatever adjectives apply to your wife, for whatever the reason, she’s not into sappy, lovey-dovey bull shat. And that can make your job very difficult this Valentine’s Day. As a man, I’m fairly certain that you haven’t put much thought into this fabricated holiday of love. If history is any indication of your behavior in a week’s time, you’ll saunter into the closest convenience store and grab whatever they forcefully suggest you purchase your “One True Love” this Valentine’s Day. Because NOTHING says immortal love like a 4-inch plush animal unnaturally dyed red, a box of poor-quality chocolates wrapped and glued shut in cellophane, one rose with a poo-shaped chocolate where the petals should be, and a card with 2 beautiful people on the front, sitting by the ocean, with words you could never think of on your own, much less write down, on the inside.

I understand her because I AM her. Just because she’s jaded DOESN’T (I repeat, DOESN’T) mean she wants you to ignore this pretend holiday. She still wants to be shown you love her, just not in a conventional way and she definitely doesn’t want a bunch of shat she has no use for. That’ll piss her off. And that’s what you’re trying to AVOID. Roses and a sweet, sentimental card will NOT get her to take off her clothes and beg you to “love her long time”. It will get you an eye-roll, a punch in the arm for being “weird”, or even made fun of. (Again, we want to AVOID this.)

“SO WHAT DO I DO, E??”

  1. First up: the card. The card must meet her where she is. If you are the sappy type, get a sappy card but write in funny things to break up the weirdness. Make fun of your own sappy card in a way that tells her you love her AND her snarkiness. She’ll love your originality and authenticity.
  2. Make her a card. Come on, it’s not that hard. Go to Wal-Mart or Michael’s and get some construction paper. Or just raid your daughter’s stash. A piece of construction paper with a heart drawn on the front, folded in half, with a hand-written “I Love You and Your Snarky Ways” inside will go much further than something you would never say.
  3. One option for the main gift (yes, MAIN- as in “there should be MULTIPLE”… trust me. I have lady parts) is something to give her time alone, especially if she’s a mom. I highly recommend a gift card to a blow-out bar or a day spa if she enjoys getting pampered. If she’s not the pampered type, give her a gift card to her favorite store and keep the kids busy while she takes care of bid-naz.
  4. If you’re tight on money, don’t worry. In the words of Wanda from In Living Color, “I GOTCHU”. Look around the house for a basket. Go to Target or another store that has a beauty aisle and pick up the $1 face masks, some bubble bath, maybe a loofa. Purchase said items and place them in the basket with some other fun stuff. (Notice you just read “fun”, not shat). Take the kids for a WHOLE day. Plan a fun day away with them and let her be her at home. Bam. Insta-love.
  5. Plan a day away with her. Create sappy memories instead of crappy, sappy items that mean nothing to her. Where did you go on your first date? How about the first time you said, “I HEART YOU”? Anywhere she’s been dying to go? Here’s a hint: If she’s mentioned it out loud to you EVER, she’s been dying to go. Snarky, cynical women don’t reveal too much unless they’ve been thinking about it for a while. By the time it leaves our lips we’ve made up our minds that we wanna do it. (That’s what she said.)
  6. Unless it’s against her religion and she’s uber devout or she’s allergic (how tragic), alcohol will ALWAYS be a good option. But make it unique. Don’t go to Trader Joe’s and hand her the cheapo Chardonnay. Likely, it will end up broken. After she smashes it with your head. Let’s keep that from happening. Go online or to a wine store and ask. Always ask.
  7. Ghost Tour!!!!! If she likes that sort of thing, that is. But it’s such a different, fun thing to do. It’s quirky, dramatic, and she’ll snuggle in real close when that ghost comes running for you!
  8. Yes, I made fun of the BAD chocolate. However, Godiva = Heaven. If she likes chocolate, she’ll prolly have some mad love in her heart for a $50 box of crack. Trust me.
  9. Bonus: Ok, so I mentioned that she should receive multiple gifts. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. If you have one large gift, have some fun “extras” ready. Her favorite wine chilled, her favorite candy on the counter when she gets home, something special that only you know to do.

I know this is a lot to take in (that’s what he said), but just try it out. Even if you just take half of my advice. Or 1/4th of my advice. But please, PLEASE no stupid, sappy cards, plush animals or grocery store chocolates. Happy VD! Ladies, did I miss anything??

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I Joined My Neighborhood Dinner Club

I joined my neighborhood dinner club

The Great Idea

We moved into a new house in May. Just down the road from where we were currently living but with 100 homes, there were quite a few people we didn’t know. So I was SUPER EXCITED when I saw an email about a neighborhood dinner club called “Gourmet”. I just knew it would be the solution to meeting the neighbors and signed us up (without asking my hubs but I had a sneaky suspicion that he would praise me for it).

Gourmet

The premise behind the Gourmet Club is this: twelve couples signed up so around every other month there are three host homes. Of these 3 host homes there is one who is the Lead Home. These hosts are in charge of setting the theme and menu. After the menu is set, each couple is given recipes that they are responsible for preparing and bringing to the dinner. On D-day (that’s what I call the dinner day cuz I’m terrified) everyone meets at their respective host homes to eat. After dinner everyone meets for dessert and drinks at the Lead Home (or wherever the Lead Home hosts decide, so maybe the clubhouse if they don’t want a bunch of drunk suburbanites getting kah-runkkk at their crib.)

The Problem

I don’t cook. If I DO cook, I want full control of all variables and I’m probably NOT going to be cooking for other people that might judge me for messing up. (Yes, that’s the very point of Gourmet. Shut up.) Now. I AM a very good cook. Most of the time. I have a few nemeses. First up: mashed potatoes. Really, it’s any dish with potatoes because they will NEVER get cooked all the way through. Potatoes hate me. They’ve made that very clear. Because mashed potatoes are arseholes. Pot roast is the other of my arch nemeses. My mom can make a dam pot roast. The kind that make me wanna slap her after taking a bite (IN A GOOD WAY! You know, so good it makes you wanna slap your momma?!) I make an effing stupid pot roast. The kind of pot roast that makes other pot roasts wonder if it was dropped on its head as a baby pot roast. It’s always tough and rubbery. Pot roast hates me. The kind I make don’t make my kids wanna slap me in a good way. And my mashed potatoes make my kids wanna slap some sense into me so that I never make them again. Other than that, I can get shat done in the kitchen.

The First Dinner

The first dinner we had was in October. It was an October (wait- Oktober) Fest theme so I, of course, dressed up in my best lederhosen just in case I needed to distract the group away from the horrible food I brought. Turns out, not everyone is a gourmet cook. Some people were sitting in the same boat I was in the whole time and I had no idea! Yay! The food was delicious, the recipes weren’t quite as difficult as I anticipated, and we were all so tipsy that it didn’t really matter anyway. #winning

The Second Dinner

The second dinner was a few weeks ago. It was a Valentine’s Day theme. I looked for a cupid costume just in case I needed the distraction again but I couldn’t find one… Fuq. It’s ok. I’ll just practice a little bit before the dinner, once I get my recipes. Guess what my dishes were… just guess. Short bread cookies and FUQING MASHED POTATOES! REALLY??!!! Ugh. It’s ok! I’ll follow the directions EXACTLY. It’ll be fine.

I ended up with no time to practice because life was so crazy. The Friday before the dinner I “worked from home” for the last half of the day so I could make the other dish I was assigned: short bread cookies. In the shape of a heart. With a smaller heart cut out in the center. And white chocolate and raspberry jam in the center. As complicated and delicate as they were, they turned out delicious. I ate one to try it out. Ok, I had 3. “I don’t know why the recipe says it makes 14! I only have 11…”

The mashed potatoes needed to be made the day of because I didn’t want to risk them not tasting fresh and delicious. This meant that I only had a short window of time to get them right. If not, I was fully prepared to go to the grocery store, purchase some taters, and pass them off as my own. But I can do this. It was me against the potatoes. Eight of them. Eight stupid potatoes just staring at me. I was terrified.

Game Time

The recipe said to use 8 potatoes. I had 8 MASSIVE potatoes. They were huge (that’s what she said). In the recipe it said to cut them in half if they were large. But I ain’t got time for that. I’ll just cook them longer.

{Now, for those of you reading this, this was my crucial mistake. This is where the other team took the game just like the Patriots took the game from my Falcons. Crucial mistakes. They’re sneaky little donkey holes.}

The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 22 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork. I cooked mine for 30 minutes. Should be good. Right?! Pierced easily with a fork. I was so gonna rock this.

At 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time I drained the potatoes, cut them up, and placed them one by one in my stand mixer as per the instructions. I mashed them up a little and turned the mixer on. Seemed good. I started to add the warmed milk, the salt, the butter, and OH MY GOOD GAWD!!!!!! The potatoes were crawling up the side of the mixer and down the back! I tried to grab them with any utensil I could find. A spoon, a ladle, a knife, a cup, the piping bag in the sink from the cookies I made the day before.

So, not sure if you have ever seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel were working the assembly line? If you haven’t, Google it right now. You need that visual. But be sure to come right back. This is about to get good.

To set the scene, it was now 6:10. The dinner started at 7. At this point there was no time for the grocery store backup option. I was standing in my kitchen with wet hair and my pink fluffy bathrobe on, sleeves pushed up but they kept falling down. I was trying to keep the potatoes from falling all over the place when I realized that there were chunks of raw potatoes mixed in with the smooth, creamy potatoes. All the while, taters were still pouring out of the mixer every time I turned it on. I turned it off, grabbed a fork, and dug out one of the chunks to see if it was edible.

And it was not. Not at all. Ever tried a raw potato? That’s what I was about to serve my neighbors. They were sure to blackball me. I was about to be the girl that brought raw mashed potatoes to the party. Not today. Not. To. Day. I did what any self-respecting southern girl would do. I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands, and proceeded to pick the chunks out by hand. But the potatoes weren’t as creamy as they looked. They stuck to EVERYTHING.

I was panicked. I had mashed, raw, chunky, sticky potatoes all over my arms, in my freshly washed hair, in my eyebrows, and I had mashed potato hatred in the depths of my soul rising up to meet my husband as he walked into the kitchen. He knew he wasn’t safe. He found somewhere else to go. I don’t even know where he went.

My friend, Laura, sent me a friendly text “I hope you have fun tonight!” She always has it together. I gave her a quick “my mashed potatoes are raw”. Then Laura sent me a message that made me realize just how much I appreciate her. “Drink a little more and they’ll be great.” It was like a Superman comic when you’re sure he’s a gonner but then he rises from the wreckage to defeat Lex Luther. I could do this! I could defeat these stupid, ugly villainous mashed potatoes. I grabbed asiago cheese from the fridge and added that. I tasted them. It was good enough.

At 6:45 I finally started getting ready. I washed the potato carnage from my body, trying to forget the bloody battle that had just taken place in my kitchen, grabbed my pink shirt with leather trim that looks like a vagina in the back (yes, you read that correctly. I mean, it screams Valentine’s Day!), and realized it had a huge grease stain on the front. Ugh. It’s just like you to do this to me, vag shirt. So that wasn’t an option. Red pants and a black shirt. That’s what I went with.

So How Did it Turn Out???

I started the dinner a defeated woman. Defeated by the potatoes, defeated by my vagina shirt, and defeated by time. I hate being late. But it was what it was. We arrived, cookies and mashed potatoes in hand, 20 minutes late.

Our neighbors hosted us with grace and welcomed us as though we had been friends forever. It was a fantastic time. I warned everyone about the potatoes. So we all agreed that more alcohol was the answer. It’s always the answer.

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