“… Every year at Thanksgiving we would have a piñata.”

So when I was growing up, my aunt had - always had Thanksgiving at her house, and I don't know how it started, but it became this thing that every year at Thanksgiving, we would have a piñata for some reason. And I don't know how it started that. But yeah, every year we had a piñata and it got to the point where it - the - what the pinata was every year was a surprise, so we would take turns just kinda guessing what it would be. One year it was like a toucan, one year it was, I think, a mermaid. And then another year it was like this big spiky ball thing. But yeah, it became like a huge thing. We even had like a special stick that we'd all use and we'd all get one shot at it. And they'd like rig it up on this like pulley contraption, and my uncle would be holding it, and he would - like, you'd be blindfolded and they would like pull the string up and down while you're trying to hit it. Oh, yeah. It was a blast. I can't remember when we stopped or when it started, but it's definitely a core memory I have of Thanksgiving, and it became a very, very big tradition in my family, that that was something that we did.

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“I didn’t say it to her, but it was terrible.”

On my mom's side - and so we don't do this because my mom doesn't do it, but the - my grandma makes these really good baked beans with like brown sugar. She used to make those for Thanksgiving every year. This year she made calico beans for Thanksgiving and I love them. Not something she does - I don't think that's something she does all the time, but I'm gonna start demanding more from her 'cause they're good. Something else we used to do is broccoli casserole. I know it's - a lot of families still do broccoli casserole. I think up here they do broccoli and rice casserole? But my tía makes broccoli casserole. In fact, her broccoli casserole were so good, she would make four of them for Thanksgiving. One to eat during Thanksgiving and then three for like each of us, like, so one for my family, one for my Uncle [name] family, and one for my Uncle [name] family to take home. Because we loved it that much. I don't know what the hell she puts in it, but she makes it every year. And I love it. And of course, I didn't get to see my tía this year, so, I'm mad I didn't get any of her broccoli casserole. Although someone at my work made broccoli casserole for like a luncheon that we did, a Thanksgiving luncheon, and it was terrible. She was like, "Frozen broccoli," and I was just like "Blech. Blech." So I didn't say it to her, but it was terrible.

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“I don’t like to shop on Thanksgiving.”

Note: Some language has been edited out of the transcript that has not been edited out of the audio.  "How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving and having early Black Friday sales?" I don't like to shop on Thanksgiving. I think I've talked about it before, but my mother used to work in retail before she became a teacher. She got her degree, you know, she worked full-time and went to school full-time, got her degree when I was 10 or 11. And, so those very formative years, she would spend working on holidays, and it was just devastating, just devastating for me as a kid. And I don't - it's, it's really sh**** that places do that to their employees. Families or no families, you know, people should have the day off. You know, I understand that places like hospitals have to be open Thanksgiving. But, like, my husband's work is open on Thanksgiving. They sell pot. They don't need to be open on Thanksgiving. So it's just discouraging, for sure. I do not and have never gone shopping, especially for like, you know, the Black - early Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving day. I have shopped Black Friday before. That's fun. It's crazy, but it can be fun.

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“That’s English.”

"Are there any words that you find tricky to spell?" 'Vacuum' is also a difficult one for me. I just read it, and now if you ask me to spell it, I know there's not two M's, but I don't know. Is there just the one C? Va- it seems like 'vac-cyum'. Or - it's 'vac-uum'. Is there two U's? I'm not gonna look but I don't know. 'Maintenance' was a difficult one for me for a while, and I don't know why and I - to this day, like with 'Wednesday', 'Wed-nes-day', I have to think 'main-ten-ance' when I'm writing it out. And 'guarantee' is still a difficult one for me. I know now how to spell it, but I think I always wanted to spell it G U A instead of G A U. Spelling words in general is not really overly difficult for me because I was such a bookworm as a kid, so pronouncing words was harder for me because I would see words like 'antithesis'. And never hear those in casual conversation, so when I would try to use it, I would say 'anti-thesis'. 'Epitome' was another one, I think I did pronounce it 'epi-tome' or 'epi-toe-may'. 'Intrigue' was a difficult one when I was younger. There was a car called an Intrigue, wasn't there? And I think I called it an 'Intri-zhyou'. It just seemed like how you - it sounded like a fancy word, you know, and yeah. 'Voila', I remember hearing before seeing so I did think it was W A L A. And I remember seeing it for the first time, "That's 'voila'? Is it supposed to be 'vwala'? Is it - Why's there a V there?" Although that is - I think it's a loan word, but you know, we can't judge words by the strange letters in them because that's English.

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“It’s a turkey the size of your puppy.”

So, what did you eat for Thanksgiving since you won't eat turkey?  Like, a bowl of mashed potatoes the size of my head.  You literally just ate mashed potatoes?  Carrots and cornbread.  So you had cornbread, carrots, and mashed potatoes.  Yeah. Anything else?  Nope. Doesn't sound healthy, does it?  Is there anything unconventional that your family has at Thanksgiving, or was it a pretty traditional menu? I think it was pretty traditional, except for like the turkey on steroids we had.  It wasn't a turkey on steroids. It kind of was. Did you see that thing?  It was a 22 pound turkey. Yeah! Turkey on steroids! It's a turkey the size of your puppy. Dad even made that joke.  Yes, it's a turkey the size of your puppy.  Yeah! Okay, do you remember that kid I was talking to? The one overseas?  Yeah. Yeah? I sent him a picture of the thing and he was like, "Oh my gosh, they were right, everything is bigger in America!" Where is this person from that you've been talking to?  He moved to Switzerland recently, so Switzerland.  Where was he before?  Afghanistan. Okay.  Yeah, he moved to go live with family.  He lives - he - does he have family in Afghanistan that he had to leave? I don't think so. I think everybody kind of moved with him.  Okay. How does he like Switzerland?  He said he likes it. It's pretty cold I bet.  He was freaking out. They got their first - not first snow, but - oh yeah, first snow a few weeks ago. Well, maybe not a few weeks ago, but you know what I'm saying? Like. Yeah.  I don't know, maybe a week or two ago, and he was freaking out, like he's seen snow before, but he was also like "Oh my gosh, there's so much!"

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“Everyone yelled “Surprise!””

It was my mom's birthday. She was turning 60 and I wanted to do something for her. I knew she'd like a party. So I looked around, it was set to be in [name of city] and I was looking for a place that could cater because I figured it'd be a pretty big group, but I hadn't been working for long so it had to be also cost effective. And I found a place, and it's really cool because their catering compared to other places was very affordable, and then they actually allow you to bring in your own alcohol or other food. So like we brought in dessert from a place my mom really liked, and I think there was probably about 60 people or so, 50 people. But it was a total surprise party. So I think - I'm trying to remember, it's been a little bit. I told her that a friend of mine who owns a Coney shop and has previously worked in a lot of really upscale kind of farm to table restaurants. I said something about how he's hosting an event with like signature cocktails, so we're gonna go. I think I told her the place. I said we're going to [name of restaurant] which was one of her favorite places for breakfast. He's renting it out for the night or there's some event, basically. So on the day of her birthday, we go. I'd invited, obviously, my family, a lot of her friends. And we're - I think we were getting ready to leave the house and my middle brother called or texted me and was like "Hey, like, we're driving up from Cincinnati. We're gonna be 20 minutes late. Can you stall?" and I was like, "No, you're an idiot. Like, I can't. This is already complicated enough. I'm just like waiting for her to figure it out. So no, I can't come up with a different elaborate lie," so I just told him he'd have to deal with not being there for the actual surprise. So everyone - I was worried like when we pulled up that we'd be seeing people that my mom knows walking around. So it was just really great. It worked out well, we didn't run into anyone. We parked maybe a block or two away and then walked over. And everyone yelled, "Surprise!" And my…

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“… The little get together that was supposed to be me and my seven or so friends turned into a mega event.”

Around the fire, we were like "Man, you know, we should like have like an actual thing after the end of the football game next week. We should all come back over here and just have a fire, like we don't even have to do paintball before it, we can just have a fire, it'd be great." So yeah, it did sound great, just getting that little crew together for a little end of season, you know, fireside hang. You fast forward to the football game. This was our big rivalry game against our crosstown rivals and one of my friends from that small paintball group brought a sign cheering on our football team. So when he held it up, you know, it was like your classic "Go team, go," but personalized, I'm sure, for like our running back or whoever that he knew. But on the back the sign that was facing the rest of the crowd was an invitation to my house for a blowout party extravaganza. And I don't know, that wasn't - that wasn't ideal. That wasn't planned. It was something he did off the cuff. So the little get together that was supposed to be me and my seven or so friends turned into a mega event where like 100 people showed up in my backyard, and they were probably very disappointed, many of them, expecting to find - like this is in the early 2000s, so like you picture like American Pie or Can't Hardly Wait, any of those movies where there's kegs on tap and people jumping in the swimming pools and, you know, Blink-182 on the stereo, I guess. That's not what we planned, and that's not what I would throw because that wasn't me. So there's a lot of people who were probably very confused as to why our party was just literally a giant bonfire in the backyard with no alcohol and a portable basketball hoop off to the side so we can just take turns dunking on it. It was very, yeah, I don't know. I do remember dozens of cars, we had a long dirt driveway probably like a hundred yards, hm, maybe 75 yards. And it was just lined on each side with cars to the point that the police showed up. They probably assumed they were busting a rager. And my mom met them at the…

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“I actually tried to use Guitar Hero 3 to learn how to play…”

In middle school, that was - in my school, that was when you could either start doing band, and then you could do band in high school or you could just do other electives. So you either had to do band for all three years or you could do electives. Like you couldn't have band and gym, or band and art, or band and tech. And I was super into art. Like when I was younger, I was like, "Oh I wanna grow up to be an artist. I'm gonna be a painter." Whatever like that. So I was like, "I'm not gonna do band. I wanna do art." And then of course I was screwed over, and they only put me in one art class, so that sucked, but I wish I would've done band. I definitely would have done like either like the percussion or the trumpet. Or maybe the flute. I don't know, probably not. My sister did the saxophone, I probably wouldn't do that and I probably wouldn't do clarinet either. But yeah, I wish I would've done band. I thought that would've been really fun. I did choir in high school and that was fun. I enjoyed that. I have like tried to learn so many instruments though, and I'm just so bad at it, and I'm so bad at like keeping myself like being persistent at like hobbies. Like I remember when Guitar Hero 3 came out for the Nintendo Wii and I was like, "Oh, like, I can learn how to play guitar from this." I don't know how that made sense in my mind. So like for Christmas that year, my parents got me an electric guitar and I tried to - I actually tried to use Guitar Hero 3 to learn how to play it like I thought like the little different colored dots were actually like different chords. Which I mean technically they were, but like I didn't like compute correctly over into my mind, you know, so that like did not work out. So I immediately gave up. And then like a couple years later, I was like, "Mom, I wanna know how to play the banjo, it's completely different from guitar. I'll do it this time." No! I feel so bad too, my parents spent so much money on that stupid stuff.

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Annabelle McClanahan

"This day had been lined up perfectly." So this took place back in May of 2019 -- so very much pre-pandemic and uh this day had been lined up perfectly. I had concert tickets to go see BTS and somewhere along that day -- towards the middle of it, we get a phone call, my mom does at least. And the, this dog that we were looking at that we were very interested in getting, we were approved to get her. So I remember like my mom just like calling us all into the room with a hu- -- like with this big smile on her face and basically saying "Guys, guys we have a new puppy." And I just remember like jumping up and down hugging my sister and asking "When are we getting her? When can we see her next?" Um, and my mom was like "Well, we're gonna pick her up today." And, and then I just remember them going to drive -- cause I was getting ready. I had a concert to go to with my friends, um, but I remember that they left in time to go pick up Dottie. And then, they drove back. And I just remember seeing her for the first time and sort of just like holding her. She was so, so tiny. And she was just the cutest, tiniest little thing. She was so tired though that when we first got her she was so curious about the house, but she was also so sleepy. So like I remember just sort of sitting there and she would -- it wasn't really like a walk. It was more like a waddle -- up to me and she would just sniff me and then she'd start crying because she wanted to be picked up and I remember like I was crying tears of happiness because I was like, who is this amazing little creature that I'm holding right now? It was, it was very cute, very sentimental. I was like, "Okay, I'm sorry. I, I have to go get ready for the concert." And so, I walked back upstairs. And apparently from what I'm told is Dottie did not like this cause she couldn't walk up the stairs yet. And I just remember getting home that night -- I was freezing. And I enter the house cause I obviously knew the code…

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