Tag: memoir (Page 5 of 9)

My First Airbnb Experience: Finding The Good

“Find the good.”

This plaque greeted me when I walked into the bathroom of my Airbnb suite. I felt very taken with it.

I’m not sure if it’s a result of my upper Midwestern upbringing, but I struggle accepting gifts. “But are you sure?” I always find myself asking when someone offers me something for nothing. I’d hate to inconvenience someone, you know? Not inconveniencing people was like our golden rule growing-up.

For example, I was always under the impression that accepting seconds from a host or hostess who cooked a meal  was inconveniencing them out of leftovers. My perspective changed when I hosted a dinner party. I felt elated when my guests returned for seconds. It meant that they enjoyed the food and this made me happy. I couldn’t have even cared if they cleaned-out the crock-pot.

Just this past month, I booked a room through Airbnb in Iowa City. For a very reasonable price, my accommodations included a private bedroom and bathroom suite inside a family’s home. I had never used Airbnb before and expected my hostesses to be relatively hands-off. While they respected my privacy, they also offered me everything under the sun to make my stay more comfortable and welcomed me with the warmth I’d expect from old friends. One of the hostesses reflected on their Airbnb experience, sharing that they’ve been fortunate. Everyone who has booked with them has brought good into their lives.

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You Do You

“You do you.”

This is the best blogging advice I’ve ever received. This is the best life advice I’ve ever received.

It’s hard to believe I began this blog over five years ago. I was in a really different place as a newish college grad. It never occurred to me that I’d live anywhere other than the Twin Cities. I was completing my first year of graduate school towards a M.A. of Marriage and Family Therapy and apprenticing with one of Minnesota’s only Registered Herbalists.

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New college grad. Footloose and fancy free at the MN State Fair.

I tried to follow in the footsteps of my favorite food bloggers of the time who wrote about dining experiences. For someone who had never published anything online before, this struck me as exciting (and terrifying). If you take a look at my old posts, you’ll find many overwrought restaurant reviews. I’ve since tried to remove the most unnecessarily snarky ones. They reflected my experiences with 100% truthfulness, but, three-five years later, we’ve all had time to grow.

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31 Feels Like Getting Really Excited To Try Out A New Broom

This past weekend I had a realization at a friend’s wedding:

31 feels like being buzzed and getting carried away by a crowd of screaming adults running for the dance floor when the DJ plays “MMMBop.”

31 also feels like getting really excited to try out a new broom. Please hold your witch jokes. Actually, don’t.

21 never felt like complaining about standing outside at Basilica Block Parties in the blazing July sun and using the Porta Potties. 31 feels like attending concerts with assigned seating where one can sit and drink.

21 felt like keeping up with scarf belts and donning dresses over jeans. 31 shrugs when it sees itself in photos wearing one of two favorite shirts, not because it doesn’t have more than two, but because it doesn’t give a hoot.

21 drank Blue Hawaiian Boone’s Farm. 31 just wants some whiskey.

21 enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in until noon. 31 wakes up early mostly because it just can’t sleep in anymore and really just wants drink coffee and eat ham. Then, it feels prideful and kind of perplexed about its ability to nap after drinking three cups of coffee. This wasn’t always so.

31 feels like Uncle Rico betting he can throw a football over them mountain and doesn’t think he’s so crazy for trying. It also quotes Napoleon Dynamite a lot.

31 doesn’t get Meghan Trainor, but it does get Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” & because it hits close to home. 21 thought Bon Jovi was hot, and, well, I guess 31 does, too.

31’s hair is beginning to turn gray and possibly get thinner; its eyes are developing crinkles around the edges from three decades of smiles and tears while gravity tugs at the caboose.

However, 31 feels braver. It doesn’t need to go to the bathroom in groups. 31 embarks on solo road trips and enjoys dining alone sometimes. 31 finds it easier to reply to insults with snappy comebacks and is generally pickier than 21 because it knows what it likes. 21 floundered alone a lot, while 31’s like “Screw it, I’m asking for help.”

31 still screws-up [a lot] but finds it easier to own mistakes with an, “I’m sorry. What can I do to make things better.” And saying no at 31 still isn’t easy but it’s easier and so worth it.

31’s not so bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn good. 

Mourning Pie & Hot Wings [Dark Horse Bar and Eatery]

I love my home state of Minnesota. I miss Minnesota. But gosh darn was it nice to step out of the car into 65 degrees and sunny St. Louis. We’ll be back soon, though, and this time there will be snow.

This past week, we made a short trip to the Twin Cities to attend our relative’s funeral. Burrell wasn’t our grandma but she’s been like our grandma for the past seven years. We celebrated her 100th birthday last spring. Even until her later years, Burrell kept her wits about her and remained sharp as a whip. Her hearing never declined either, and she’d often holler her reply from another room if someone was whispering about her. Burrell was a very loving person and, in turn, many people loved her.

She’s my inspiration to pursue balance in life. To strive for a better attitude, seek fresh air and move my body a lot. To keep on enjoying my morning coffee, pats of butter here and there, and a glass of wine in the evenings. At the funeral, her daughter shared a beautiful letter. The part that really stuck with me summarizes the lessons Burrell demonstrated to her loved ones: Be courageous. Be kind. Be hopeful. Be curious.

While we were home, we also celebrated birthdays with Jake’s family at Dark Horse, a new restaurant in the Lowertown area of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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The menu is really eclectic and draws from many flavor profiles, from Thai to Ethiopian cuisines. Our friendly server guided me to one of her favorite whiskeys before we shared several appetizers. While my dining party’s opinions about their dishes ranged, we shared a unanimous enthusiasm for the wings. The menu mentions they’re seasoned with berbere and their special Dark Horse Sauce.

One half of our group requested mild wings while the rest of us devoured the hot. They were really, truly hot; the hottest, most delicious food I’ve eaten since we visited this Thai restaurant on Lake of the Ozarks. My lips burned long after the last wing was gone. Besides the heat and flavor, the wings were large with crisp, rendered skin and tender meat. I haven’t met a better hot wing. They arrived with a light, creamy sauce that everyone wanted more of.

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Top: Dark Horse Wing + sauce. Bottom: Posole with egg and pork + tostada. Pleasantly spicy, very tart.

Laughter over whiskey, mourning over pie. Reverse or juxtapose or repeat. Run it out, talk it out, and sweat it out over heart-achingly spicy food. That’s what I do, at least.

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