Pie Oh My

“You’re going to need to return this pie,” Dolores, my mother explained to me.

This occurred mere moments after she peeked into the grocery bag containing said pie and uttered in disgust, “No Sugar Added,” with the same level of disdain she reserves for food items like coconut, all seafood that isn’t catfish, rice, garlic, alcohol, and the droves of other foods she basically equates with poison.

You see, there is particular and there is Dolores. If you’ve met me and think I am picky, you don’t know picky. My mother told me the other day she didn’t want food from Fazolis, a fast food restaurant she used to eat at, I kid you not, six times a week, because the Memphis Fazolis, “doesn’t taste like the other Fazolis do.”

So, with a No Sugar Added pumpkin pie, we obviously had a problem. Wanting to be a good daughter, I offered to go to the store and purchase a different pumpkin pie.  In my head, the No Sugar Added one was just written off as a loss, a mistake of a pie that we would try to find a home for with one of our relatives, or simply throw away.

“Yes, you need to please go back and exchange it.”

This is where she lost me. I’ve returned clothes, electronics, and other things, but, prior to this day, I didn’t even know grocery store returns were an option. What is surprising is that they are. What isn’t surprising is that my mom is fully aware that you can return things to the grocery store.

“Where do I even go to return a pie when I get there, Mom?”  I imagine myself walking in, holding the pie outstretched, like Oliver Twist. “Please sir, can I have a different pie?”

As I learned, there is a customer service counter at the front of the store that handles returns and the sale of cigarettes. So, I took the not-sweet-enough pumpkin pie back to Kroger, picked a regular sugar pumpkin pie up, and proceeded to the counter.

It was a relatively easy process. I was surprised how the girl didn’t even bat an eyelash at my pie snafu, just pleasantly exchanged them, then told me I was good to leave with the new pie. The only part that struck me as funny is that she saw me eyeing the receipt and said, unprompted, “We need this for the paperwork.” It took some restraint not to ask what pie exchange paperwork looks like. I’ve easily spent an hour pondering what kind of blanks are on that form.

So, this Thanksgiving I learned something new—you can exchange just about anything and, for my mom I will. Even if she did sneak a slice and inform me that, while this pie had plenty of sugar, it also had some sort of spice she didn’t care for and wouldn’t suffice either.

On the bright side, she didn’t ask me to return the pie with a piece missing at least…

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Cause David Sedaris Told Me It Was Okay

When there was a lull in the questioning at the Smith Center tonight, I simply decided to raise my hand and go for it. Lo and behold, David Sedaris called on me. So I asked him a question I often wondered about his writing:

“Do you ever have your family ask not to write about the things you write about?”

It wasn’t completely out of the blue as it sounds. First of all, if you aren’t familiar with the author David Sedaris, you likely don’t know his entire oeuvre is personal narratives, often very intimate but funny stories from his childhood, love life, and family. Just the stories about his brother, affectionately called The Rooster, are enough to make you blush. It also made me wonder though…is the Rooster okay with this?

Unsurprisingly, the Rooster is just fine with the often scathingly hilarious descriptions of his antics. I was surprised to hear though that Sedaris offers his family the power of veto by providing them drafts of his work before it is published. At one point, his dad exercised that power, asking him to withhold the rather crass phrase the Rooster called his father from time to time. At one point in a Q & A, Sedaris ended up divulging the turn of phrase to an audience, who was apparently horrified. And, interestingly enough, he said his dad was right both from a privacy perspective and it made the story better.

I asked the question mostly because I wanted to know how Sedaris’ family felt about his stories, but I also had selfish motivations. I know I am no David Sedaris, but the more I write in this blog, the more I question what should go in here. I frequently wonder where the line is. I knew Sedaris wasn’t going to give me the magic answer, but to at least see someone I admire with the intensity I do this author, seems to struggle with the same question was a bit of a relief.

I don’t mean to be coy when I say I am at a point in my life where a lot of things are going on. Things that wear on me…things that make me cry…things that I don’t know how to wrap my brain around without writing about them.

And I guess where I really struggle is, as someone who doesn’t really see the value in a diary, I find I write in order to share things and find common spaces and strike up conversations that might just help me understand things a little better.

I long to write a post on my “blinker boys” theory, as many of my friends insist I should, but I hold back knowing it could hurt some of the guys in my past or threaten some of my male relationships in the future. I want to write about half a million things about my mother, for I find her incredible, but with every Tweet I send about her, I feel a little bit worse knowing how much my mom gets bashful when I do it, even if it is filled with love.

And then there is me. I’m struggling right now in a lot of ways and the last thing I want is for people to think I am seeking attention and the only thought in my head is “woe is me.” I am White. I was born in America. I’m ahead of the curve and I know that. But I also know I am a pessimist at heart because optimism is just something that has never made much sense to me. Bracing for the worst is so much easier than expecting the best, and the same kind of goes with how I write. I tend to point out the things that frustrate me or make no sense more than the things I admire, because admiration is a pretty easy emotion to figure out. I know why I admire Mohamed Sanu. What I don’t know is how to deal when life throws me 35 curve balls. And I like to believe that writing through those curveballs will help, even if that writing isn’t always cheerful.

So I go back and forth about how much of these goings ons in my life need to be on here. Like Sedaris, I wonder if my mom telling me no isn’t just about self-preservation, but is also a smart decision from a content perspective. I want that blinker boy post to exist so badly, but respect of others and a desire to maintain relationships with trust win out, even though I have it saved as a draft on my computer.

In the end though, I can’t seem to kick this urge to write about some of these things my mom and dad always told me weren’t for other people to be burdened with. They taught me to deal with my own problems, not foist them on others, so I stay silent, thinking that writing about it is an imposition, making people read about my drama out of a sense of obligation. But, here I am, almost two months in to what I will say are categorically the worst two months of my life, and I think I just have to get some of it out to stay sane. I doubt I will Tweet and FB new posts, so if you are curious, check back in.  If you are not, that is okay too, because I realize this whole exercise is fundamentally a selfish one. But more than one person has told me I need to be a little selfish right now, so here goes. I may not be forthcoming if you have questions and I may omit details, but it is only out of respect for those who don’t want their stories shared. So there are no blinker boys just yet. And the Dolores stories will be sparse. Instead, you’ll just be stuck with me as I try to work through some of these bizarre happenstances, knowing in the back of my head that it is okay to wonder what should and shouldn’t be said, because it is something even someone as immensely talented as David Sedaris worries about too.

Sanu Dawn, Sanu Day

For the past seven weeks, one of my fantasy football teams did not have a name. Last week, I finally decided it was time for a cheesy, punny one, not because most everyone else had one, but because my love and obsession for a certain player on the Cincinnati Bengals squad had grown too great to ignore.

That is how Team Sanu Dawn, Sanu Dey was born (Note: The Dey is intentional, a riff on the Cincy’ “Who Dey?” cheer).

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu began this season with the Bengals as a third stringer who was expected to get more looks while Marvin Jones, the breakout wide receiver from last season, recovered from an appendectomy. In the preseason Bengals games, I saw that Sanu was getting a lot of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton. He even threw a touchdown at one point. While I tend to get most of my fantasy advice from Brett Collson, my fantasy sensei, I decided to pick him up off the waiver wire without consulting him first (unfortunately dropping Ronnie Hillman, which at the time made sense, but now is a bit frustrating). So why did I get so invested in a wide receiver that was clearly second fiddle to one of the best receivers in the game, AJ Green? The answer is pretty simple. I don’t ever like the #1 receiver. It’s too easy.

Prior to Sanu, my favorite Bengal receiver was not OchoCinco or AJ. It was TJ Houshmandzadeh, who, like Sanu, had to work his way from third receiver to the starting line-up, but once he got there, he proved to be quite the powerhouse for several years. The beauty of the #2 receiver is they can catch you by surprise. You know AJ Green is getting double teamed cause he is an incredible talent. Meanwhile, Sanu can line-up on the other side of the field, get open and make a remarkable catch of his own. That is why Sanu’s numbers dropped a bit two weeks ago in that tie against Carolina—he wasn’t the distraction, he was the featured show. But when Sanu gets to surprise, amazing things can happen. Like gingers not named Jimmy Graham catching touchdowns:

My love for Sanu is not unlike my love for the Bengals. While they are geographically my team, there is something nice about rooting for the non-obvious choice (says the girl who roots for the most obvious college sports teams imaginable, I realize). I would love the Bengals to win the Super Bowl, or heck, even a playoff game, something which hasn’t happened since I was six-years-old. Still though, there is something character building about sticking with a team that doesn’t always succeed. I want nothing more than my nephews to adopt my teams because I always say rooting for Cincinnati builds character. It helps you deal with disappointment. It helps you find the silver linings. It helps you appreciate Mohamed Sanu.

It also helps that he has a personality that can crack me up a little bit. While I generally find my friends who use too many exclamation points and emojis in their Tweets somewhat obnoxious, I can’t help but find @Mo_12_Sanu’s feed hilarious. Here’s how he wished Andy Dalton a happy birthday. Like a 12-year-old:

This should annoy me, but for some reason it doesn’t. Part of it is, this kid was born in 1989, so he is effectively an infant. Moreso though, it is that a 6’2” intimidating football player shows the enthusiasm of Taylor Swift about his QB’s birthday, hanging with his little cousins, and he finds it necessary to persistently tweet his horoscope (he’s a Leo, if you’re wondering). It’s like why I love Bengals safety Taylor Mays because he has a Lululemon backpack collection and likes to wear jerseys baring his midriff. It is the perfection of not being on top, the team in the middle, or the number two wide receiver. You may not always end up on top, but you have endless opportunities to catch people by surprise.

Mohamed Sanu has been nothing but a pleasant surprise for me, so, as I come off what I can safely say was the worst month of my life, I look to November and a game with a vulnerable Jacksonville secondary tomorrow where I can call out “Sanuuuuuuu” with a smile on my face, knowing I have learned that the lesson that it is no fun to like the obvious and the easy. It is more gratifying to like the ones that may not always be top notch, but will surprise you, enthuse you, and leave you with that wonderful feeling that you appreciate something that other people just haven’t realized is amazing yet.