On Working a Seasonal Job and Why I May Live in Athens One Day

People. As I write this, I am mainlining some pomegranate seeds and drinking a raw apple/beet/ginger/lemon juice, attempting with all of my might to make my brain not so zombie-like while also staying awake. You see, I, like so many other patriotic Americans, am a seasonal worker. I work 40 hours at a full time job and anywhere from 12-20 hours at a seasonal job. It’s like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, except better, and starts with a K. Yesterday, I worked my usual 8 hours at the main job then took my happy arse to K and worked from 6-12:45 in the a.m., fell asleep by 1:30, and woke up at 7 this morning. I’m actually not sure that what I’m wearing matches (that’s a pretty normal occurrence, though), if I brushed my hair, or if the words that leave my mouth are what my brain intended. Last night, I forgot my dinner at my main job and figured that I could snag something out of the vending machine at K with my $10 bill. The machine didn’t take my money, and at approximately 9 pm, a coworker took pity on me and gave me 10 pretzel sticks that will remain the best pretzel sticks of all time. This was dinner.

I digress. Honestly, working a seasonal job has been quite pleasant, and I have found a certain happiness in BS-ing with complete strangers all night. Here is a common conversation:

Me: “So, are you almost finished with your holiday shopping?”

Them: “Pfff, I wish! I’m just getting started!”

Me: “Well, you’re better than I am! I haven’t even started!” (giggles entered here from Me and Them).

You see? I was born for this. I love a good BS session and I also love to peep the goodies that K has to offer. By the way, I’m not kidding about not shopping yet. Remember when I started my Christmas list in August? Well. For the first year EVER, it is now 9 days until Christmas and I have bought exactly zero items. I’m not sure what happened exactly…but somehow I’ve lost that Christmas spirit. I just don’t really care. On Friday I plan to do my holiday shopping from K and call it a year. I have been shocked by the happiness of the customers so close to the holiday, and I was warned last night that the grumpiness was yet to come from the masses. I have hope, though, that if I can keep a smile on my face and say things like, “I really appreciate your patience, I’m training right now” that people will react with kindness. We’re all in the same boat, after all.

On Saturday I found myself heading to Athens at 10 in the morning to visit with my very dear friend Rebebula, whom I’ve known since high school. She is preggo with twin boys and is all kinds of adorable. She and her hubs recently moved into her (my) dream home and it is AMAZING. As soon as I got there, I swooned over the picturesque layout of her 14 acre property, a lake in her backyard that they can pull their boat out onto, a flock of geese that call her neighbor’s front yard home, a chicken coop and a compost pile and raised beds for their garden, and a house that would melt the coldest of hearts. I want to live there. I want to be there all the time. The light coming in to the kitchen or the sun room or the bedrooms was all I could think about, just how that natural light plays so quietly on the walls and the ground, with shapes of leaves dancing in the wind. This place is magical. I am so very happy for them, because they got this place for a song. This gives me more hope than I can explain: hope that there is a home for me, somewhere, with land for animals and for running around and for gardens and for natural light with big windows and for fire pits and for the utter quiet that comes with living in the country and for always being able to see the stars. I only took one picture while at her house, from the kitchen window, because I soon realized that pictures would never do it justice.

Sigh.

Sigh.

She and I started early by heading to the Athens Farmer’s Market where I got a bag of kale for $3, a giant head of red lettuce for $3, different kinds of potatoes and carrots (purple carrots?), and then we got to the dips. There is a vegan seller, Rabbit Food, that sold me on their spinach and artichoke dip and their pumpkin seed hummus (I KNOW). All vegan, all the time. Then I had to buy the baba ganoush because it was the best thing I’ve ever had, and Rebeb and I basically ate half of it before dinner. I then ate the rest for breakfast on Sunday, FYI.

The farmer's market haul. Yes, a pumpkin was bought.

The farmer’s market haul. Yes, a pumpkin was bought.

Dips!

Dips!

After the farmer’s market, we found our way to the Grit. Oh Grit, how much do I love thee? I got the Tofu & Veggies with a side of potatoes (carbs = life) and toast. I ate the entire thing. Rebebula got the breakfast burrito, and because she’s growing two humans, she also went to town on her food. We were like two pigs sitting down to a feast. I have no regrets.

The Grit.

The Grit.

We then went back to her place and two of her friends with dogs came over. Then there were three dogs running around and jumping into the lake and chasing balls and playing with each other and now I want a dog. Damn. Didn’t see that one coming.

Rebeb and I cooked dinner: sauteed and roasted butternut squash with onion and garlic and turmeric/curry/coriander, roasted sunchokes, all over couscous. But let me not spoil one of the greatest discoveries of my lifetime: the pomegranate. That crazy bastard keeps all of its delicious seeds to itself and you have to fight tooth and nail to get them, but once you do, you win at life. They are so very good! I bought 4 poms the next day at Kroger (pro tip: they’re on sale at Kroger for $1/each).

Holy yum.

Holy yum.

Pom seeds!

Pom seeds!

Ehhhh I may have eaten them all.

Ehhhh I may have eaten them all.

After dinner we chilled for a little while and then I made my way home. Did you know there was a meteor shower that night? I saw them falling across the sky on my way home, and it seemed like a great way to end such an amazing day. And even though I am half dead today, I am oh so grateful for the magic that life brings to me: hugs from dogs and seeing old friends and pomegranate seeds and seeing Fleetwood Mac tomorrow with my dad and finally sleeping tonight and being one step closer to my career (hint: I passed the GACE!). And remember to please be nice to your cashiers as you snag your last minute Christmas goodies, because we’re just people trying to make it through this holiday, and no, I cannot give you my employee discount.

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My Girl’s Trip Can Beat Up Your Girl’s Trip.

I mean, I hate to burst your bubble and all. But any attempts to top my girl’s trip will be thwarted majestically, while my girl’s trip rides off into the sunset on top of a unicorn that poops rainbows and sings “Don’t Stop Believin'” with such operatic stylings that Steve Perry would weep.

My friends all are married with kids and desperately needed a vacation so badly that I started to see panic in their eyes. You know right before you lose your shit, when even the slightest offense can bring tears to your eyes and rage to your heart? That’s where they were. That scary place where moms tend to go that I have no clue about, this is where they were on Thursday when we pulled out of town. The destination: Myrtle Beach. The time frame: long weekend. The reason: Operation Get Your Shit Together.

We rolled in to the beach late Thursday night after a delightful dinner at Taco Bell. Seriously, though, that place brought the heat that night. My usual meal (bean burrito ordered “fresco style”, add potatoes, add rice) was DELICIOUS, as if they actually gave a shit for a moment in life about making good food. We were all tired when we rolled in so we went to bed, but not before greeting the ocean with a smile.

Me likey da beach.

Me likey da beach.

Friday morning, we were well rested and ready to roll. A breakfast buffet later (I made my own breakfast of Tofurkey sausage and a Smart Bacon sandwich with Just Mayo and avocado) and we were fat and happy and on our way to the grocery store. Come to find out, the local Food Lion has quite the selection of veg friendly foods. They have Morningstar Farms and Boca (not all vegan, but a helpful step), Earth Balance butter, Silk Egg Nog (we’ll touch upon that later), and some of the most delicious microwave store-brand popcorn I’ve ever had. After buying far too many beers, we were set for the weekend.

We went to Damon’s for a late lunch/early dinner, which is apparently “THE place for ribs.” Somehow, my former anxiety that used to come with going to a meaty restaurant has been replaced by a sense of adventure. It’s almost a challenge now to find something delicious to eat and to make my own meals, but I’m up for it. At Damon’s, along with a couple of beers, I got: a plain baked potato, the seasonal veggies (sauteed squash/zucchini/red peppers), and the Salad in the Orchard (no cheese). I am usually not one for having fruit on my salads…I tend to not mix sweet with savory because it doesn’t make sense in my brain. But that salad was AMAZING.

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After dinner we wandered back to our place along the beach with a big ol’ bright full moon staring back at us. It was hot tub time. It was a hot tub and cold beer and whipped cream vodka with egg nog (a delight!) and drunken conversation and heavy on the eating kind of night. It was quite lovely. There was no drama, no hurt feelings, no anger or tears. There was only smiling and laughing and living and that big ol’ bright full moon and us and all was right with the world.

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Because I’m old, I never sleep well anymore when I’ve been drinking. The good news is that I just don’t drink that much anymore. So when I do, my body freaks out and my main malady is a pounding headache the next morning. My cure: a grilled cheese made with Field Roast’s Chao cheese and a McDougall noodle cup and 4 ibuprofen and approximately 3 bottles of water. I was right as rain after that!

Chao grilled cheese!

Chao grilled cheese!

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Saturday proved to be just as amazing as Friday, with movies being watched and some day drinking and tons of snacking. I brought pumpkin seeds with me and my new favorite food: Dang toasted coconut chips. Dear sweet baby Olaf, it tastes like butter in my mouth, but is much more socially acceptable to eat. We eventually wound up at Angelo’s for dinner where we had a very nice Italian meal that left everyone in a food coma of sorts. I was able to get some salad with no dressing (lemon wedges as dressing is the shiz) and rolls with no garlic butter, and for my meal I got spaghetti with marinara and added broccoli for some extra greens. We walked back in the rain and continued the party in the hot tub until we ran out of beer, and we finished the night with yummy snacks and water and movies and laughter.

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On Sunday, we packed up to head home. We did the girl’s trip right and we showed Myrtle Beach who was boss (hint: it’s us) and we had a great time. My friends are back to their husbands and children while I begin my seasonal job and plan to start the Crazy Sexy Diet in a couple of weeks. If you need me, I’ll be wearing these slippers forever.

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At my seasonal job: where I too hope to be Ass of the Month one day.

At my seasonal job: where I too hope to be Ass of the Month one day.

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Oh! I finally made zoodles and they were AMAZING. They’re super wet, and I even put them in a colander and they still created a puddle on my plate. Any suggestions?

 

Zoodles!

Zoodles!

This picture is my spirit animal.

This picture is my spirit animal.

My cat clearly missed me while I was gone. She's obviously given up on life.

My cat clearly missed me while I was gone. She’s obviously given up on life.

ThanksLiving: PlantbasedATL’s Vegan Pot Luck

I realize now, more than ever, that I am a lucky girl. Lucky to be moving into a great career (10 years later…but who’s counting?), lucky to have friends and family that support and love me, and lucky to have found a new crew with which to talk about how Whole Food’s vegan crab cakes are the ultimate and the everything. But for real, has anyone tried those? They keep them next to the pizza and cold schtuff and they can be heated up if desired (please desire this). I dare say that meat eaters would also like them because they are the end all be all. If there was a Whole Foods closer to me, I would personally be the sole proprietor of the vegan crab cake section, and all others would bow to my effortless way of saying, “No, really, I’ll take them all. Can you guys make any more while I shop?”

Our Whole Foods hot bar spoils.

Our Whole Foods hot bar spoils.

On Saturday, us veganators had our first ThanksLiving Vegan Pot Luck and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a smashing success. Our friends Sonya and David were kind enough to host us at their AMAZING Kirkwood home. Holly, Daniel and I drove around town on Saturday morning, gathering supplies and taking an hour lunch break to eat everything the Whole Foods hot bar had to offer. People, if you haven’t tried the chicken fried tofu, you haven’t lived. Poppa Veg-Head, my dad from Mobile that eats meaty meat at every meal, even likes the chicken fried tofu.

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We started setting up at David and Sonya’s about 20 minutes before people started arriving and I was sweating profusely, which is quite normal. Soon, 50-60 people started arriving with overflowing casserole dishes filled with homemade macaroni n cheese, green bean casserole, kale salad, garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, and the like. We had more food than we knew what to do with. We did, of course, stuff our faces.

Daniel, in front of framed pictures of the FCFS animals.

Daniel, in front of framed pictures of the FCFS animals.

Daniel's presentation.

Daniel’s presentation.

Daniel made an amazing presentation about Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, our beloved home away from home in North Carolina. We raised almost $250 for FCFS, which no doubt made Penny the pig flop in the mud and Nemo the llama look completely apathetic, per usual. We ate, we conversed, we met new people and hugged friends, drank warm boozy punch, and were very much alive and thankful.

OMG.

OMG.

I ate so many.

I ate so many.

Krista, of Krissy Sweet Treatz, made the MOST AMAZING cheese-less cheesecakes I’ve ever had in my life. I personally ate 4 as soon as they hit the table, then I took home several more to “sample”. I am currently craving her peanut butter flavor, which is just the right subtle blend of peanut buttery goodness with the crunchy crust. I will be ordered these for any event I am forced to bring food to, so get ready.

Holly, me, and Krista.

Holly, me, and Krista.

All in all, it was a magical event. We raised money for FCFS, we ate, we drank, and we laughed. Because what else is there in life?