Logging On to Love

I came across a piece I wrote in 2012 that was never published. So I’m putting it here. Because I like it.

I could do an updated story about swiping. MAYBE I WILL.

I also found a piece I wrote about menstrual cup frustrations so, get excited…that could land here as well.

But for now, MAB on online dating: 

I’m no expert. I don’t claim to be. I don’t want to be. But there are a few things I’ve learned that have really changed the way I look at my love life.

Once upon a time in therapy, my counselor suggested I date more. After a review of past relationships, she concluded I was most comfortable in situations where I knew a guy (from work or through friends), increased the amount of time we spent together, hung out on my couch watching movies or tv, and called it dating. She wasn’t totally off base.

She said the practice of going on actual dates would require me to put effort into learning about people. More importantly, I would learn whether those men were what I wanted in a mate. She had me list qualities I would look for if I ever owned a company and needed to give it to someone else to run. It was an exercise to teach me the characteristics I valued in people, and gave me a blueprint for what I’m looking for in someone I would consider for a long-term relationship. It’s not a checklist, per se, and although she had me mark a few non-negotiables, they’re pretty standard: family-oriented, financially responsible, trustworthy…you get the gist.

It reminded me of something I heard a while ago about how it’s good to date a number of people at the same time (at first), and then hone in on the one who stands out in the crowd. I’ve never been good at that. I’m more of a one-at-a-time girl.

And then I went online. Say what you will, but it really is a good way to get back out there and go on a lot of dates.

I’ve done the online thing twice in my life. The first time was several years ago, and had mildly disastrous results. Nothing horrible happened to me, I just came away feeling not great about the entire situation – and honestly – about myself. In one case, everything was great on paper, but there was no THERE there. In another, the guy was an ultimate d*bag. It happens. I gave up and went back to dating people I knew, because the best – and quickest – way to ruin a friendship is to date a friend.

My more recent foray into online dating came after a lot of hemming and hawing, and with a phrase of advice seemingly whispered on the wind. I have since googled it and found it all over the world wide web, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I heard it first. What’s important is that it changed the way I dated, and made a huge difference.

Here it is: When preparing for a first date, don’t go into it thinking, “I hope he likes me.” Go into it thinking, “I hope *I like *him.” It seems like such a tiny bit of mind alteration, but it really does change the way you prepare and carry yourself into that first meeting. The thing is, people are people. You’re going to like certain people, and in turn, certain people are going to like you. The opposite is just as inevitable. And that’s a huge lesson: you don’t have to like everyone. I mean, I knew I never wanted to settle, but I was often much more concerned with what someone thought about me than what I thought of him.

Armed with my new mantra/philosophy, I started scheduling dates. I somehow ended up with three in my first week. New territory for me, but I rolled with it. I was really excited about one of them, but quickly discovered I wasn’t as into him as I expected to be. In fact, the one who stood out in the crowd that week was the one I least expected. It was kind of refreshing.  I was indeed learning about myself through this whole dating thing.

One of the best compliments I received during the whole experience was how true to myself I was in my profile. I had more than one guy say I was exactly as advertised. I guess it’s true what they say about the older you get the better you know yourself.

The lessons didn’t stop there. As often happens in relationships, things fizzle or don’t feel quite right, and it’s time to move on. I would reach a certain point and just kind of know/feel things weren’t working out. Another benefit of internet dating: the ability to see that it’s true what they say: there are plenty of fish in the sea. And that knowledge gives you confidence and faith offline as well.

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A Job Well Done

Today my dad announced his retirement. While it won’t make headlines, his career deserves recognition. He deserves recognition. This is a big deal.

My earliest memory of going to visit my dad at work was at a small building with lots of brightly-colored cords plugged into rows of big metal things. What I know now is that it had something to do with talking on the phone. What I knew then is it looked like a lot of fun.

My first memory of visiting my dad at an office where he sat in a cubicle is tightly woven with one of my first memories of playing on a computer. More specifically, playing Monopoly on a computer. You pressed the space bar to roll the dice. It was the 80s, and we certainly didn’t have a computer at home. Again, my dad’s work seemed like a magical, fun place.

The fun didn’t stop there. In the afternoons we would run down to the end of the street to greet my dad on his way home. We would then climb into the back of his pick-up truck and ride to the house. EVERYTHING ABOUT GOING TO WORK WAS AN ADVENTURE.

There were business trips to places I could (sometimes) find on globes and “what did you bring me, daddy?” welcome homes. I remember calling him after the first business trip I took as an adult, and apologizing for the latter. What I couldn’t know as a child is how exhausted you are when you return from a work trip, and how overwhelming it would be to have four littles clamoring for gifts and attention when what you really wanted was a detox from life. But he never complained. At least not to us.

He brought the gifts. He paid the attention.

When I tell people we moved around about every four years because of my dad’s job, they always ask/assume military, and I’m always like, telecommunications (although he was in the military once upon a time too). Whenever someone asked me what my dad did, I would say microwave engineer/project manager/something to do with telecommunications. I didn’t understand specifics. (Sidebar: Was moving around so much difficult at the time? Sure sometimes. Would I change anything about my transient upbringing? No way. So much of who I am and what I love about who I am is a result of that experience. Three words: adaptable, curious, adventurous. Thanks Dad!)

He didn’t go to college, but he’s taught me so much. At times he’s fought for jobs and done whatever he had to do to make sure there was dinner on the table, or presents under the tree. He’s a hard worker, and hasn’t shied away from things outside his realm of expertise. He’s tried new things. And when things didn’t go well, he made it seem like they would eventually and that everything would be alright in the end. And – as it turns out – it was.

So ecstatic to get to celebrate this milestone.

Here is the letter he sent to his colleagues today, shared with his permission and in its entirety. I loved reading it and learning more about him, and hope you will too. I am so incredibly proud of him. And so very grateful he has the opportunity to step out of the rat race and spend his next 100 years on this Earth going and doing and seeing and experiencing life the way he’s inspired me to. My cup runneth over.

After 60 years in the workforce, 47 of which were in telecommunications, I am hanging up my headset and walking into the sunset.  My last day will be Friday, February 27th.  What an amazing road it has been.  I started in the business at the end of the tube era and the beginning of the transistor era.  Anyone else remember NPN and PNP?  How about the theory that holes flow?  I have worked in telegraph, telephone, analog and digital microwave, FM and digital multiplex, fiber optics, cellular, switch engineering and probably a few other disciplines that don’t come to mind right now.  I have slept on the floors of microwave repeater sites when they had frost on the inside walls.  I have watched the sun come up from the top of a 450 foot guyed tower.  I have traversed the Sierra Nevada mountains in a snow cat laying out a path for new microwave systems.  I have engineered and installed communications systems across the US, Europe and as far away as the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall islands in the South Pacific. What a ride!

I started my telecommunications career in the Telegraph Group with AT&T Long Lines.  From there, I went to a company called Nebraska Consolidated Communications Corporation (N Triple C for short).  N Triple C was the first communications company (other than Ma Bell) to have a nationwide communication system planned.  N Triple C was also the first company purchased by a little startup called MCI.  My original employee number with MCI was 0000067.  I still have my old MCI id badge somewhere.  I helped build MCI’s first microwave system between St. Louis and Dallas.  History buffs might claim that MCI’s first microwave system was between St. Louis and Chicago.  They would be wrong.  The St. Louis – Chicago system was built be Jack Goeken who’s company was named Microwave Communications, Inc.  After that system was up and operational, Bill McGowen bought into the business and he laid the foundation for what was to become MCI.  Jack Goeken parted ways with McGowen and went on to found a company called Airphone.  Maybe some of you remember that company.  Just a little history lesson thrown in.  After MCI, I spent time with the Department of Defense, Brooks Fiber, Gabriel Fiber, McLeodUSA, Xpedius, Time Warner (aka twtelecom) and now Level (3).  No wonder I’m feeling old.

Within  telecommunications, I’ve worked in real estate, outside plant, construction, installation, maintenance, microwave engineering, central office engineering, cellular engineering, switch engineering, circuit design and provisioning, project management, program management, engineering management and other duties as assigned.

There are too many people to thank individually.  Thinking of those pioneers of the communications industry that I had the privilege to work for and with, makes me more melancholy than I already am.  As one of my coworkers here in O’Fallon likes to say:  “I have been blessed and divinely favored.”  I have enjoyed working with all of you.  I respect you as individuals and I am proud to call you my friend.  Thank you for your support and friendship.  I wish nothing but the best for all of you.  Farewell.

To the man who used to sign letters to my school “Mary Anne’s Daddy,” and hands-down the greatest guy I know: I love you. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations. You deserve this. Enjoy it.

My Favoritest Picture Ever

My Favoritest Picture Ever

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Next Stop: Babyland

I’m a child of the 80s. My mom fought for Cabbage Patch Kids THAT Christmas. And had to enlist the help of a friend because the limit was two and she needed three. I remember my first. Her name was Allie. Maybe Allie Arabelle or something like that. And she had auburn hair like me. And she wore it in braided pigtails. Her dress was mostly white with navy blue accents to match her navy blue bloomers. (And no, I’m not staring at her. I don’t have the slightest idea where she is, and I’m pretty sure there’s no way she’d still be wearing her OG outfit.) Suffice it to say, Cabbage Patch memories stick with you like the Xavier Roberts autograph tattoo on every doll’s backside.

So when a friend sent me a picture of a Babyland brochure she found in an Airbnb she was staying at in North Carolina, we knew we had to go. It was our duty. Plus, the place is in Georgia. Other than the ATL airport, I’d yet to really visit Georgia (and airports don’t count in the states game). At least two birds, one stone. The road trip was planned.

Lucky for us, Oprah’s “What I Know For Sure” was released just in time for us to hit the road. Oprah was the keynote speaker at my college graduation with a speech sharing that title. It was a pretty big deal because I was a pretty big fan of Oprah. Also, sometimes my mom still quotes things from that speech 14 years later. Another fun MAB factoid: Oprah was one of the first celebrities I interviewed. Oprah reads the audio book version herself. It was an easy sell, and I was certain my car would be menstruating by the time we hit the state line.

The book as expected was lovely and the drive was gorgeous. I had never been that far east in Tennessee. The highway is lined with trees and mountains and Oprah wisdom. More than once, we were on a two-lane highway and stopped because of construction. Seemingly  on cue, it would be a point in the book when Oprah was stressing the importance of stopping and breathing and – needless to say – it freaked us out. And made the lessons resonate that much more.

When this entry turned into an Oprah book dissection, I’m not sure. But eventually, we made it to our destination.


The excitement of two grown women at the sight of that sign was a bit ridiculous. And we had already decided this trip was so much more about the journey than the destination. But we were still excited at what we assumed we would find inside.

It wouldn’t be EXACTLY what we expected.

But at least there were fun photo opps. And those make most things worth it.

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There were a lot of those cloth Cabbage Patch dolls everywhere. I never considered those the real ones. Give me a doll with a hard plastic head and cloth body. They were arranged in cribs and nurseries and it was all kind of creepy. There were signed autographed pictures of celebrities like Michael Jackson and Randy Travis on the wall. Everyone giving props to the CPK. That part was kind of weird too. What there wasn’t – and what I wanted – was a museum of sorts/back story of Xavier Roberts and how everything came about. They offer a story, but it’s silly.

That doesn’t mean we still didn’t perk up when we heard the announcement that a birth was about to happen. Everyone gathered at the patch. And when I say everyone, there was a good-sized group there. There were other children of the 80s, with their own children as well as a couple of groups of adults my parents’ ages. The curiosity was palpable. What were we about to witness?

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To say the “Licensed Patch Nurse” was fully committed would be an understatement. She clearly had a real medical background (we would find out later she had been a nurse for 20-25 years). It’s fun to share moments like that in a group because you can’t wipe the smile off your face, and you’re doing a good job of not laughing aloud – except for when you’re not – and you feel better knowing you’re not alone in actually enjoying the madness whilst realizing how weird it is.

Then came the post-birth exam portion of the show.


It was super thorough. I jokingly wondered out loud from our side of the window if she would have performed a circumcision had it been a boy. When she emerged from the room, one of the dad-age men asked her my question. She said nobody had ever asked that before, but in the patch baby boys were born with that already taken care of.

We decided to up the creepy with another photo shoot before we left. The fun part about a place like this is it’s already so weird that nobody bats an eye when you’re running around arranging baby dolls on a bench.


So yeah…we basically drove four hours for a glorified gift shop. But knowing is half the battle, right? This sign on the way out really clinched it.


No comment.

So before we left, we asked one of the employees for a nearby lunch recommendation. This is a tried and true thing I like to do when visiting places I’ve never been. Yelp helps in a pinch, but if there are people you can ask, I’ve found it usually works out.

This woman asked us if we had heard about the alpine village at Helen, Georgia. We hadn’t, but as soon as she told us there was a winery on the way. We knew we’d love it. At the Habarsham winery, we ran into the group of older people (including the guy who asked my circumcision question). It turns out after that experience, we all needed a drink. We did a tasting, and had a super fun time chatting with the guy, and then asked him for his lunch recommendations.

He suggested a specific spot in Helen right on the Chattahoochee called the Cafe International. The view was spectacular. Made us want to take a float. The veggie burger was delightful as well, and the reuben earned rave reviews. We walked around the village before heading home, another fun adventure in the books.

Side note: neither of us purchased a Cabbage Patch doll. I’m not sure why everyone expected us to. We’re grown women without children. I mean, I realize we road tripped to their birthplace (speaking of, I would have been more interested in a factory “how they’re made” tour). We did, however, purchase bottles of wine. And maybe should I ever have a daughter or son who really loves dolls, and I happen to find myself near Helen, I would stop in again.

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Bottle It Up

I’m very much the kind of person who when I read about something, or hear about something that I think I might enjoy, I write it down, and then make a plan. How soon can I get to wherever or whatever I’ve just found out about? What stands between me and it and how to I make whatever that is go away? Time…distance…there are as few limits as possible. (If there were NO limits, I would have been to Cuba and Australia/New Zealand already and be talking about that time I went to Iceland last week.) That being said, I do the best I can, and do a pretty good job of it. Not a humble brag, I just prioritize adventures.

It was while working on a piece about a bottle garden in Tennessee that I stumbled upon information about one in California along Route 66. The timing was perfect as I was headed to LA for a concert.

(Concerts are one of my favoritest excuses to travel.)

The Bottle Tree Ranch is a couple hours east of LA in the Mojave Desert. Totally doable.


Found objects AND puffy clouds. I was sold on this day right out of the gate. We wandered, taking pictures and getting closer looks and marveling every step of the way.

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So much to see! And I was enjoying discovering the littlest of trinkets and the most recognizable of objects used in the most interesting of ways. I knew from my research the Ranch is owned and was created by a man named Elmer. His house sits at the back of the property.


But Elmer wasn’t outside. It bummed me out to think I wouldn’t be able to meet him. Like the adventure wouldn’t be complete. I walked around the house and into a side yard that’s not as set up. And then I turned around to see Elmer walking out of his house.

What followed was an amazing conversation (which shouldn’t shock anyone). He told me his dad started the bottle collecting, but never did anything with them. Elmer’s more than made up for that. We talked about the bottles. We talked about the found objects. We talked about raising kids (“do it with complete honesty – lie about nothing, not even Santa Claus”). We talked about seizing moments and doing what you want. We were the kindredest of spirits. But my friend K thinks I liked him most because he looks like a gnome.


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Farm Life

I’m not sure when it I first learned about The Farm, but I know that when I heard about it again in Ricki Lake’s doc “The Business of Being Born” I knew I had to go. I was enamored by the story of The Farm’s founders Stephen and Ina May Gaskin. Their caravan road trip of school buses across the country. Why don’t people do that anymore? Or if they do, why don’t I know them so I can be invited?

Needless to say, when I decided to move to Nashville, I delighted in telling my mom it was in order to live in closer proximity to a commune where renown midwives could help me deliver my sperm donor baby.

So when I began making a list of adventures for my to-do list, a visit to The Farm was high. It was easy to find, and frankly felt more like a rural neighborhood than I expected. It wasn’t apparently what I had in my head pictured as a commune. My Martha Marcy May Marlene Mary Anne/Wanderlust dreams were dashed. There were even satellite dishes.

But there was also The Wholeo:


Finally. Let’s get this hippie party started!!


That’s a lot of incredible glasswork right there. And I’m pretty sure with certain mood enhancements or the amount of light a full moon offers it could be quite the experience. It was lovely on a sunshine-y summer day. I got the feeling thoughts really flow well in there.

We walked through a school that looked like it had been longer than a couple of months since it had been used, but I’m hopeful as it seemed like a place where creative brains could blossom without messy things like standardized testing.

As we walked from the building, a low-budget documentary crew asked me if I had seen Arthur (?). If you know me, you know how thrilled I would be at the thought that I could pass for a resident somewhere I was visiting for the first time.


As we continued our self-guided tour (you can take an official one, but I’m a fan of getting an overview and then finding my own way…HOWEVER…you can stay the night with a family, and I definitely want to do that) we came upon a group of guys (some of them barefoot) burning bamboo for energy. It was loud, and aromatic, and I never knew the value of bamboo.


We talked to a couple who just moved onto the property, walked through a community building being built, and then wandered into a small shack that was a bookstore of sorts. There was nobody inside, and for seemingly no reason but my entertainment, there was a crocheted romper hanging on the wall. I looked at my friend and warned her of my plan: I was going to put this romper on and we were going to have a photo shoot on the porch. Proof:


I was really happy in that romper. I’m not sure what its story was, but I hung it back up like I found it.

From there, we went to visit the midwives. Needless to say, they were lovely, and answered all of our questions, and told me I still have eggs left.

As we drove away, I said, “I think I could be convinced to live there,” and my friend responded: “Um, you totally could.”

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Orchestra Experience

Since apparently I’m just going to randomly blog about Nashville things…
(And why wouldn’t I?! That city fed my soul like no other!)
I figured I would give a review of another one of the trip’s highlights, and do some shameless self promotion in the process.

While in town, I caught the premiere of Ben Folds’ piano concerto. I had interviewed Ben about it for Paste Magazine, so I was excited to hear it there in Nashville where the idea was conceived. (You can read my article here.) The experience didn’t disappoint.

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I went to a symphony performance. Beck played with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl several years ago, does that count? Because that might have been the last time. Or wait Peter Gabriel played under the same circumstances more recently. 2012. I just looked it up. Anyway. It’s been a while. And those performances probably don’t even count as I should just go watch a symphony play without a popular artist to attract me…oh wait.

WHATEVER. I was at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Which is gorgeous if you’ve never been.

Ben Folds’ portion of the program was the last bit, which meant full on classic orchestra for about two hours – can you use orchestra and symphony interchangeably? Long story short: It was mesmerizing. From the music they played to the nonverbal communication with each other and the conductor.

I recalled my brief relationship with the oboe (which seems to have a major part in most orchestra pieces) and love that my ears still perk up at its sound. Speaking of, I totally listen to classical music – don’t get me wrong – I just don’t go and SEE classical music which is a whole thing that Ben brought up in our interview that didn’t make it into the article. People – especially younger people – don’t go and see orchestras play anymore.

So right before the concerto, the orchestra performed the William Tell Overture (they had also performed part of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde). It felt like the energy in the room was building for something…

And then…as the orchestra wrapped that piece and the conductor walked off stage, a piano rose up from underneath the middle of the centerstage. I made the comment it would have been real rock and roll if he had been sitting on the piano bench as it ascended triumphantly into the air, but it was probably more professional the way he did it. Which was to walk out on stage after everything – and every one – was in place.

His concerto is about 25 minutes long, and if I didn’t know how difficult it is for someone to play piano that hard for that long, I would have said it could have been longer. Because it was incredible. There were elements and things you’ve never heard in that environment before. Something I didn’t mention in the article that had every one buzzing after the show was the way he uses the orchestra members’ cell phone ringtones at one point to carry the tune. That’s a 2014 piano concerto right there.

I also especially enjoyed the part where he stood and played one hand on the keys and one hand on the actual strings of the piano. There is probably a proper name for this, and perhaps it’s something others do as well. But I had never seen it before, so it captivated me.

After the concerto, he was applauded back on stage for an encore. I was there on night two of three. He said the first night they realized they never thought of what to do about an encore. He doesn’t have a microphone at the piano, so he decided on a singalong. The first night they sang Purple Haze. The night I was there we sang Piano Man because Billy Joel was playing next door. The third night crowd was treated to Tiny Dancer.

So yeah, when he comes to your city, or a city near you, or a city you’ve always wanted to visit, you should go.

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The Catbird Seat Review

I haven’t blogged since I moved to SLC. Not a calculated decision, but one I’ve grown mostly comfortable with (except for the few times I’ve wished I had better documentation of my life). But this seemed as good a place as any to share the details of the crazy amazing dinner experience I had the other night at The Catbird Seat in Nashville.

It’s a tiny dining room, with about 20 seats around a u-shaped bar. There are two corner tables that seat about 5 people each. The chefs prepare the meal in front of you. You tell them if you’re allergic to anything, but other than that, there is no menu or way to predict what you will be served. Adventure!!

I took notes that reflect my interest in food and paying attention. But you’ll get the gist. Parentheses are comments I’m adding now.

1. Clam shot horseradish something.

(The first thing you should know is that I’m not huge into spicy things.)

2. Oyster from Puget Sound that tasted like a cucumber with some stuff on it.

(The second thing you should know is that I don’t eat oysters.)

3. Sunchoke with accoutrements – I really liked this.

4. Sea urchin tongue with some frozen mandarin. I have no idea what I just ate.

5. I think he said apple cheese herb adventure?

(I should probably mention I had a crafty alcoholic beverage (Up to My Knees from The Patterson House prior to the meal. The courses of the meal are also paired with various wines/cocktails. Foreshadowing.)

6. Pecan butter huckleberry salad. Like a PB & J salad. But it worked. Starting to get scared.

Neil Patrick Harris would be taking pix of each course, but I’m out of my comfort zone and focusing on eating. And drinking. Wine with everything. Pairings. I had a vodka craft drink before this. #goodthingItookaLyft (yes I hashtag in notes to myself)

The people next to me just got steak tartar. They’re a lil ahead of me. Sh*ts about to get real. Why am I not live tweeting this?

7. Sturgeon, potatoes, sourdough broth foam. This was tasty.

Apparently I could have chosen a vegetarian option. #risktaker #unplannedmeatday
This is fun! I want everyone to do this!
There’s a guy here wearing a Bluetooth. #easilydistracted

8. Maine scallops smoked quickly and then something oniony and capers with it. So yum. Favorite so far? I just spooned straight up onions into my mouth and loved it. (I don’t (usually) like onions.)

How many courses is this?
U2 “With or Without You ” just came on and I thought about crying, so things are going well.

9. Ribeye tartar. Dried/aged? 45 days. From local farmer. Lingonberries and grains (crunchy quinoa) and greenery and yogurt. The crunchy grain makes texture ok. I’m doin it you guys. I just ate the sh*t out of some raw beef. #sorrynotsorry #lovedit #imsoconfused #drinkingwinehelps

The guys don’t like it when I get spoilers from the people next to me. #cucumbersnow

10. Endive marmalade grilled apple duck. Something pistachio. OMG get in my mouth.

New friends want to grab drinks. Eating meat has turned into a slippery slope. A slippery phenomenally tasty slope. New friends: “You just killed that plate of duck.” #ivealwayslikedduck Truth: I would eat more of that tartar right now. (This is the second time I’ve had meat tartar, the first time was back when I lived in Paris. I don’t remember liking it half as much as this.)

Just joined my new friends in a joyous rendition of Happy Birthday. Guys in corner clapped. Proud of how ballsed out I’ve been about this meal. #youonlyliveonce

They just brought me a beer from Brussels to go with my next course:

11. Beer cheese, puffed rice, onions, mustard. Get in my mouth. Thought rice was bugs. Truth I would eat anything they gave me at this point.

12. Cucumber snow is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Meyer lemons, something creamy, blah blah blah. More snow pls.

I understand foodies now. Do not come to Nashville without eating here. They book out a month in advance. Worth it. Have thoroughly enjoyed entire experience. They say Terra in NYC is comparable.

13. Oak wood ice cream shaved cherries on top. Burning wood next to ice cream. (Smelled divine.)

14. Potato cake pastry thing. Mamie (sp?) “that’s the cutest one.” (She surveyed several before putting one in front of me.) This place just lost its sh*t over “We Built This City” and I just ate a pastry with cream inside #nothingmakessenserightnow

15. Lemon thyme Meyer lemon macaroon.


In closing, if you give a vegetarian raw meat, make it crunchy.”If I’m going to eat meat, can there at least be bacon?” #thingsvegetarianssay

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