Scarlett’s Letter September 17 – 20, 2013

Greetings from Glasgow, Montana.

I feel like I’m living in a Prairie Home Companion episode, or the 1950’s, or both; everyone here knows each other, and, usually, are related through marriage, if not directly. There is a mild distrust of anyone obviously not a part of “the clan”. Like me. And all of the “oil people”. The town without a Wal Mart (link). I mean, Michigan City, Indiana has a Wal Mart, and I bitched about that! Glasgow, Montana. Life seems a little simpler here, for those accustomed to it. Unless you need something from a large retailer. I, personally, am struggling.

The view from my hotel room.
The view from my hotel room.

But, first, let’s talk about trust. With much effort, tenacity and perseverance, I managed to find a car to rent in this town. I Googled and Googled and Googled. I eventually found a rental agency, online, that rented cars in “rural Montana”. I carefully selected a car and filled out the reservation form. There were “safe” and “secure” transaction badges all over the site and the name of the agency even sounded vaguely familiar. But, after entering all of my information, there was an error message that the transaction couldn’t be processed, though no reason was given. Five minutes later American Express calls and tells me my card has been hacked and was used at a Home Depot in New York City. Hello? If you’re going to hack a card with no credit limit, really? Home Depot? For a hundred bucks? Were you desperate for light switch plate covers and masking tape? Tiffany, Barney’s, Louis Vuitton and Cartier are right around the corner, loser. Back to trust. I picked up the phone and called a real person at the hotel I made reservations at. A real person answered, no recorded phone maze and I didn’t have to press anything for English. Amazing. The nice lady at the hotel gave me two phone numbers for folks she has known her entire life, that might just have car for rent the week I’m going to be in town. How nice. One is a Ford dealership, the other a Buick dealership. I call the Ford one. I’ve owned a 1966 Ford Mustang and a 1992 Ford Bronco; I am a Ford girl. But, sadly, they don’t rent cars anymore. I call Andy at the Buick dealership. They still make Buicks? Whatever.  Andy is very nice, but, all three of his rental cars are spoken for. He will talk to the boss (his dad) and, maybe, they can “buy” another car for me. Alright then. Nobody’s ever bought me a car before. He’ll call me back. And he does!!!! I am blown away! Whoever calls back when they say they’re going to? “I’ll call you back” normally translates to “I can’t help you, I don’t want to help you, I want off the phone, now, and you’ll never hear from me again.” Andy called back and had a car for me! Wow. Amazeballs.

Andy instructed me thusly; when my flight arrives in Glasgow (link), the car will be in the parking lot, unlocked, with the keys tucked behind the visor. There will be a bright orange piece of paper hanging from the rear view mirror with my name on it. This is trust. Or naivety. Andy, obviously, has never tried to reserve a car in Glasgow, Montana online. Andy has, obviously, never had his car stereo and the contents of his trunk stolen from him in the dead of night, from his locked car, parked in his own driveway in the “best part of town”. Andy, obviously, doesn’t shop at Wal Mart often, because it’s three and a half hours away. How cool to live in a world where you can leave a car at the airport, unlocked, with the keys within and a sign that says everything but, “steal me”. There must be a catch. There is.

There is no AT&T cell service for miles, from what I’ve been told. Having arrived very late at night after my epic flight and non-flight, I sort of tumbled into bed, hoping it was clean, and I slept, I might have actually passed into death, briefly. I was tired. I didn’t glance at my phone as I readied for bed, other than to set the alarms for morning. When I arrived at my clients’ office, and, at break, went to send my Sweetie my customary “Good morning, Love” text message, I found “No Signal” where the bars should’ve been. My first thought was that my service had been cut off due to some gross bookkeeping error in some remote third world country where AT&T has outsourced their accounting function. I tried calling myself from my Verizon phone. I know. Geek. I tried texting myself, back and forth, to no avail. I finally worked up the gumption to ask the twenty something attendees in my class about cell reception. I was told that AT&T only comes in from the middle of the lake. I don’t happen to have a boat with me. Nice. Maybe Andy has a boat I can rent.

There are places I go, routinely, where there is little or no cell reception, and I am fine. Work is not one of them. When I am travelling for work, I really, really, really want to communicate with everyone in my life. It keeps me sane. Nearly. I could feel a mild state of hysteria overcome me as I tried to work out, in my mind, how I was going to manage communication without a cell signal. My Verizon phone is for “work purposes only”. I even had to sign a mile long “contract”, after watching an online slideshow/movie/presentation thing (for people in our company who can’t read, I guess), as to what is business and what is personal use of the phone and that, under penalty of death, we would not use our work iPhones for personal purposes. I’m totally fine with that. Until now. I have full reception on my work (Verizon) phone. There is a world out there I need to contact at random points throughout the day and night. This I must I do. Shit.

All day long I am thinking and planning and scheming on how, exactly, I’m going to communicate with everyone. And get away with it. I figure out that with my Verizon MiFi, which is mine, all mine, and, yes, seemed like an extravagant $50 bill every month, until now, I can turn it on and use my AT&T phone to reach part of my world; my kids via iMessage and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare. That is pretty much the whole world, except my Sweetie, who, in the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska, though without Internet or Wi-Fi, is actually in a more civilized and amenity filled world than Glasgow, Montana.

My only solution to that, then, is to use my “work” phone to call my Sweetie. Sssshhh. But, gosh darnit, when you’re a thousand miles from home, alone, because of work, I’m pretty much thinking that being able to connect with your loved ones then becomes a business necessity. So. Fire me. Please.

I went out to dinner with several folks from the firm I’m working with this week. We had a lovely dinner at the one pretty good restaurant in town. I strategically seized a seat in the “middle” of the long, rectangular table, thinking I’d be able to hear everyone, and soft spoken as I am, would be able to project to all. I ended up playing conversational Ping-Pong. The folks on the left of me are all talking about hunting and fishing and epic adventures, the people to the right of me are all talking about travel, shopping, wine and dining out. My interests are divided, normally, but usually I can juggle them. This is just cruel, I am forced to decide, or be an idiot and keep trying to participate effectively in both conversations. I just swivel my head left, then right, left then right, and try to participate in both conversations. I order another beer and, with my MiFi on in my purse, I manage to check in from on all my social media, complete with pictures. After dinner, I head back to my hotel room. I pull out the useless weight in my purse, which happens to be the iPhone 5 I lusted after for months, I notice a sign of life, a faint pulse. A faint glimmer of life, of utility. There is a signal. Like, two and a half bars. I try to place a call, to no avail. I try to text, to no avail. So, it’s alive, but in a coma. And still, a useless weight, a lying, cheating, misleading useless weight. Bars imply functionality. Liar. Liar. Liar.

Dinner at Durum in Glasgow Montana
Dinner at Durum in Glasgow Montana
Shared dessert at Durum in Glasgow Montana
Shared dessert at Durum in Glasgow Montana

I eventually come to terms with my inability to easily communicate with people in the civilized world. People with a Wal Mart closer than three and a half hours away. Not that I, by any stretch of the imagination, consider Wal Mart an indication of civility, culture or even domestication. Still, there is a certain calm that comes with the acceptance of being so remote you no longer exist to the social media world. This is why I thoroughly enjoy backpacking as often as I can. This is why I find my visits to Alaska so grounding, so centering, so nutritive. I know I’m a junkie, a technological, social media needia junky. I’ve written about a trip to Alaska where I learned to overcome my six-shooter Google App for iPhone reflexes and remembered how to use dictionaries and other anthropologically important methods to find information, in order to prove my point, that I was right, or, in rare cases, to educate myself when I was lacking knowledge. I jest, of course. Of course.

It is often observed, in the Bible and in other historical accounts, that when things are the darkest, light ensues. After the floods, the sun on the fringe of the clouds and the rainbow, blardy blar, as an example. Somewhere, at some point, I decided, maybe decided is too strong of a word, I succumb to the fact that I was here, social media and decent cell service were not, and I could not do simple things, like Open Table, Foodspot or Yelp for restaurants, bank from an app on my phone, check in for flights and pay for bags from an app on my phone, or, even hold a simple conversation on my cell phone, text or talk. With acceptance, however unwilling, of these facts, the rainbow appeared and I decided to embrace a certain simplicity. To simplify in a way, or two, that may even leave a mark on my data enriched, or perhaps, data inundated, lifestyle back home. Besides, I was getting menacing emails from my Verizon MiFi data plan about approaching my limit for the month and the cost of overages. And I’m only ten days in to my plan month. Crap.

Does it mean something when your almost brand new iPhone 5 battery only lasts 2/3 of the day before requiring life support? With each new iPhone, I was pretty sure, the battery life was supposed to improve. Oh, wait, but so does the quantity and quality of all the apps for the iPhone. It’s like heroine. We start with an app or two, then ten or twenty, then a hundred or two hundred. Before long, we can’t get out of bed or measure the quality of our sleep without an app. Or two. The more apps we use to simply exist, obviously, the more battery life we consume in an ordinary day. I have lots of apps. I used to know I was an app junkie by the crazy number of notifications in the upper right hand corner of the “App Store” icon. I was normally in the triple digits. Embarrassing. I know. But, thankfully, I am oblivious to my addiction once again. With the iOS7 upgrade, my phone now automatically updates all my apps and I never see an update push notification. Since this marvel I have probably downloaded two-dozen more apps. It doesn’t help that apps are advertised on Facebook for iPhone. I fall for it. I click through, read the description, read the reviews and download the app. Free apps are offered on other apps I use, like the Starbucks app and EasilyDo. I even downloaded two apps while at the airport after watching popular media on TV. Shoot me. I have discovered some cool apps this way; Evernote and Dashlane, for example. I couldn’t survive ten minutes without either one of these apps on every one of my devices; phones, macs, PCs. Seamless. Unless, of course, I’m in Glasgow, Montana.

I’m quite certain one of the reasons my iPhone battery drains so quickly is because of the volume of crap emails I get. For the record, I hate email. Loathe, despise and hate, with a capital H-A-T-E. And I’m old enough to remember when email was the cool thing and not everyone had it, only the totally in the know, cutting edge, Avant-garde people had an email address. I remember the lengths I went to to have an email address of my own. I had a personal email long before I had work email. Alas, I have always been this way. Sigh. And for this; email hell. Every business I do business with, which for me, is lots, including every store I shop at, every social networking site I affiliate with and every app I have to register for, which is pretty much all of them, I get regular emails. And by regular I mean hourly. I spend more time deleting emails in a twenty-four hour period than I do sleeping, which is just wrong.

And what is the proper etiquette? My daughter was in a youth group for several years but has not been, now, for a couple of years. The daughter of a now deceased youth advisor for the same youth group has an MLM and, God help me, I’m on her list. I will never buy any of the shit she sells, even if I knew what it was, nor will I become a representative for any of the shit she sells, in fact, I find her quite tiresome not only in email format but on Facebook, as well. Can I “unsubscribe” and “unfriend”, or is that “uncool”? And with that guilty thought came a revelation. I’m fucking unsubscribing from everything. Today will be “Fucking Unsubscribing from Everything Day”. I’m going to the National Calendar Day page and requesting this as an official day! They may go for it, but I’m guessing they’ll edit the name a little. By the way, they need an app of their own. They don’t have one. I checked. Yesterday.

I made progress, while I was within range and within budget, on Wi-Fi. I couldn’t help but delete all the garbage emails as they came in, but then, in my free time, which I have lots of, since I can’t actually communicate with anyone in the outside world, the real world, the internet, only by email, I’ve been going through my email trash folder and systematically unsubscribing to everything. This is so liberating! I can’t wait until tomorrow morning when I have like, zero emails! I’m genuinely excited. I haven’t unsubscribed from shit in almost five years! I think I may even weigh less as a result! I’m going shopping for size fours! Wait. No I’m not. I’m in Glasgow, Montana AND I can’t reach MissMe.com. Fudge.

Irony. I tried to unsubscribe from the MLM youth group connection lady. The “unsubscribe” link resulted in an error, all forty seven times I’ve tried. My penance. Well, hell.

As the week progresses, I continue to opportunistically unsubscribe to all the emails I’ve been receiving, daily now, for years. I really do feel leaner, lighter, freer. I highly recommend this. How much time and energy do you spend every day mindlessly deleting email after email after email?

Are there other things in our life that drain us like unwanted emails drain our phone battery life? Think about it. Are there things we do, or things we endure, that make life more cumbersome? Poor health, an unhappy relationship, a job we don’t love. Is there something in life you dread as much as seeing a push notification for twenty-five new emails you know are all junk? Is it time to unsubscribe? Is it time to sleep more, and to sleep better, having put all this waste behind us. Like a juice-cleanse for the soul? Think about it. Then take action. Unsubscribe from all those unwanted emails, then unsubscribe from the unnecessary and tedious things in life that fill you with the same feeling of dread and trepidation as hundreds of crap emails. Be free.

I have actually been enjoying my evenings, here, in Glasgow, Montana. I’ve been eating well, in spite of the fact I haven’t been able to see how many stars or spoons a restaurant has earned from adoring fans. I have been receiving restaurant recommendations via “word of mouth”. It is so retro it’s almost cool again. This is how it works; someone ate somewhere and liked the food and they tell you, in person, and even suggest a menu selection. I know. Right? So you drive to the restaurant, and, thank goodness the Garmin still works here, because they’re all, like, fifteen miles from town, but totally worth the ten-minute drive (speed limits are pretty high around here once you get three feet out of town). And the local beer? Wow. Who knew? The only place in town that didn’t have an admirable local beer list, or any beer list, for that matter, was the pizza place. I didn’t know you could eat pizza without beer. It can be done, and, yes, the pizza was good … but. I ate a slice or two in the restaurant, had the rest boxed, bought beer at the market, and went back to my hotel to enjoy the rest, though sans people watching, at least, with a decent beer.

Lunch at Sam's Supper Club Glasgow Montana
Lunch at Sam’s Supper Club Glasgow Montana
Eugene's Pizza, Glasgow Montana
Eugene’s Pizza, Glasgow Montana
Eugene's Pizza, Glasgow Montana
Eugene’s Pizza, Glasgow Montana

The other place, out of town fifteen miles, that didn’t have a decent beer menu, may have, in fact, had a decent beer menu. Am I missing it? Is there some rule or law or code somewhere that says females only ever drink, or should only ever drink, shitty, pale, piss-water-beer? I don’t. I won’t. Example. I went to the hotel bar with a couple of the partners from the firm I’m working with. I asked about the beer menu. I could see about thirty different varieties, in bottles, in the cooler behind the bar. I was salivating. The bartender started naming off “beers” like Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite. I asked her “what’s the darkest beer you have?” She told me there was a Bakken Bock, but it was “dark” and I wouldn’t like it. I told her I would. She insisted, as in, argued, I wouldn’t like it. I politely insisted that I would, in fact like it, meaning, I’d enjoy it and bring me a goddam glass, please. She tried to suggest, again, that I really wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I had two. I went back another night and had two more. I want one now.

My last day with the client. We finish our session a little early, by design, because everyone in the office is going to the High School Homecoming parade. I time the conclusion of the materials and exercises expertly, they all walk out the door and down the street. I gather my things and get in Andy’s rental car, the Buick, which is quite nice, if you wanted to know. By now, however, the streets are all blocked off for the parade, the sidewalks on both sides are lined with people, all wearing read. Go Scotties. Woof. I try, unsuccessfully, for the next thirty minutes, to find a way around the parade route. The train tracks parallel the main streets “downtown”, the highway in and out of town are on the other side of the street, and the only track crossing is an underpass which is, clearly, part of the parade route, as evidenced by the cop car parked askance across the intersection in order to thwart unpatriotic out-of-towners like me from getting mixed up with the marching band and the floats. The parade route zigzags up one street and down another, I find, totaling, I’m sure, about eight miles in all and covering every bit of pavement the town has, with the exception of the highway, on the other side of the tracks. The tracks I cannot cross, the highway I now, desperately wish to be upon. At one point I get too close to the parade route and can’t turn around because I’ve run out of side streets and all the driveways are blocked by onlookers. I just drive my red Buick LaCrosse down the street. All the onlookers wave excitedly at my red car as they peer in to see who, exactly is driving. Their smiles all fade when they at last conclude that I’m just a dumb out-of-towner that got mixed up in their parade route. I exit the fan-lined street as quickly as I can. At long last, having now driven in circles, squares and up and down every street to find only dead ends and farm equipment impeding my escape, I approach the cop car at the intersection of the parade route and the underpass to freedom. The cop politely smiles and waves me on, under the train tracks and to freedom! So, I’ve been driving around like an idiot, crisscrossing the parade route multiple times, for nearly an hour. I’m a little embarrassed. I hope no one from the firm has seen me make a spectacle of myself.

Bergie's in Nashua Montana
Bergie’s in Nashua Montana
Bergie's in Nashua Montana
Bergie’s in Nashua Montana
BBQ pulled pork wrap at Bergie's in Nashua Montana
BBQ pulled pork wrap at Bergie’s in Nashua Montana
Ice Cream made at Bergie's in Nashua Montana
Ice Cream made at Bergie’s in Nashua Montana

So, on my last night, I went to a restaurant out by the lake. You know, the lake where AT&T has service. In the middle of. I don’t believe it. I am seated and a very nice though somewhat awkward, and, dare I say, backward, young waitress greets me. There is a vibrant bar with all kinds of “Montana-like” people at the bar, stout, swarthy men, stout, swarthy women. I’m thinking they’ve got to have stout swarthy brew! I implore. I am given the usual, “oh, you’re a girl, and not a particularly swarthy, stout one, so you must want a light beer, but only because our wine list sucks, otherwise you’d order a Chardonnay”. Wrong, on every count.  I don’t want a Bud Light, I don’t want a Coors Light, I don’t ever want Chardonnay. I want real beer, that tastes like beer, made from malt and barley and hops and maybe something exotic like chocolate or oatmeal. Or both. I settle on a Sam Adams because my waitress is dumbfounded and can only point at the bottles in the cooler behind the bar. She actually suggests Smirnoff Ice as a “beer” selection. I am trying to be tolerant, accepting and kind. I manage. Meanwhile, I see other people in the vicinity with beer that has color, like maybe an amber, even. Sigh. The waitress reads the specials to me, with labor, chicken “cord on balloon”, I have a visual, but she then describes the ingredients, in gruesome detail. I’m sorry, doesn’t everyone know what chicken cordon bleu is? I let it pass. She then goes on to tell me that the chicken “cord on balloon” is served with hhhhhhhhhherb mashed potatoes. She pronounced the “h”, with emphasis. Oh dear. My heart breaks a little for her, poor child. She doesn’t know what real beer is and she, obviously is under the impression that someone is serving chicken with balloons tied to it with cords. I tip her 20%, hoping she puts it to good use and gets out of Montana long enough to learn what cordon bleu means and that real women often drink real beer.

Gateway in Fort Peck Montana
Gateway in Fort Peck Montana
Gateway in Fort Peck Montana
Gateway in Fort Peck Montana
My favorite Montana brew, the Bakken Bock, enjoyed at Cottonwood Hotel.
My favorite Montana brew, the Bakken Bock, enjoyed at Cottonwood Hotel.

I’m ready to go home. In so many ways. I get back in Andy’s Buick and head for the hotel, where I stop in at the bar for one more Bakken Bock before I ready to leave for home, and civilization and cell service, briefly, tomorrow.

Montana scenery
Montana scenery
Lake at Fort Peck Montana
Lake at Fort Peck Montana

Scarlett’s Letter September 12, 2013

I went for a run this morning. It was cool and overcast when I set out, incentive, plus, I needed to run, I’ve been a slug all week. I’ll be traveling for work, again, the next couple of weeks, and that damn marathon is really beginning to loom large on my fitness calendar.

I’ve been running for about a year and a half now. Ninety percent of that running has taken place with my running club, in Sacramento, where we run along the lovely, American River Parkway, devoid of automobile traffic, crosswalks, traffic signals and other perils. Only recently have I begun to run on the street. It is very different, not nearly as scenic, and quite a bit more hazardous, even with bike lanes and sidewalks. Even the streets of Napa. Particularly the streets of Napa, perhaps.

My favorite six and a half mile loop, and a major portion of my favorite twelve-mile loop, encompasses an area of Napa that not many tourists see. I run past liquor stores, nail salons, past a couple of schools (by far the most dangerous traffic, ever, minivans and distracted moms), a gas station where all of the city buses, tour buses and limousines fuel, a couple of hotels, and several trailer parks. That’s the ugly side of my run, the part of Napa that not many tourists see, except for the hotels. At precisely the half waypoint, I, literally, round a corner and am running along a rural road lined with vineyards dotted with traditional Napa farmhouses and a few ostentatious villas. I like to run the same direction around this loop for two reasons, to avoid having to keep crossing the street to be on the “correct” shoulder and, to end my run on the more scenic side.

I am convinced that more people should run, or cycle, or ride motorcycles, because runners and cyclists, like motorcyclists, are much more attuned to the perils of traffic, they know to look, not once, but twice. If I am running on the “correct” side of the road and approach a driveway or intersection where a driver aims to make a left hand turn, I know, almost certainly, they will only quickly glance right as the execute the turn and probably won’t see me, no matter how much fluorescent clothing I’m wearing. I usually just run into the parking lot and skirt around behind them to avoid any unplanned encounter, and I do so at a distance.

In “urban running”, major intersections and crosswalks throw my time off, which makes me distraught, I can’t help it, I’m a calendar and clock kind of girl. Time matters. When I look back on my mile by mile stats, I can always tell where the major intersections are, my time once dropped to almost 19 minutes per mile because I obeyed the traffic signal and waited for the “walk” sign. I can crawl faster than that. Now, I just go around the law a bit, as in, I just run down the street a block or so, then jaywalk, or run, then run back up the block on the other side of the street and pick up my route. I can maintain my pace and even add a little mileage. I know this is probably some minor misdemeanor in the eyes of the law, but they’ve got to catch me first. Jaywalking.

One of my favorite pastimes is walking. Walking in New York City is more than a pastime, it, for me, is sport. I have always been a very, shall we say, “efficient” walker. I want to cover some ground, I do not stroll. Like driving, I would rather keep moving than be stuck behind something slow. Add to my desire to keep moving, traffic and crosswalks and a million other people, all walking way slower than I, and the sport has begun. Like a cyclist, it’s all about pace or cadence, I intend to move through and around obstacles at a steady pace, I do not want to stop, I do not want to slow down. The first trick is to be able to navigate around large groups of slow moving people, or worse, the people that suddenly stop, right in front of you. I usually use the zigzag approach; skirt the crowd on the right or the left, as space allows, switching back and forth as necessary. Sometimes I just walk the curb. Other times, I have no choice but to thread the needle, squeezing between groups, even turning my shoulders sideways, on occasion, to avoid contact. This, by the way, is an excellent workout for the upper body and waistline, as well as the lower body. A brisk walk on crowded New York City sidewalk, threading the needle.

I can walk at a pace, usually, after a few blocks, where I can fall into rhythm with the crosswalk signal. If I am consistent, once I hit a “walk” sign, and I am not impeded in some way, I can hit all of the “walk” signs going in one direction. Once I alter direction, I need to reestablish the rhythm. Of course, that’s only if there are cars crossing the crosswalk. If there are no cars coming, and the signal says, “don’t walk”, well, you do. You can tell the “New Yorkers” from the tourists in a heartbeat. The tourists stand dutifully on the corner, looking a little forlorn and confused while they wait for the signal to change. The New Yorkers cross, and often between oncoming cars, as the tourists look on in shock and bewilderment. I’m not a New Yorker, but it didn’t take long to figure out how to move around in their world.

That is my whole impetus in life; to move through the world in the most efficient manner, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing. Just move. Efficiently. This applies to more than walking, running or driving. This applies to everything from banking to television to shopping, working, working out, traveling, and, well, everything. Life can be hard, it can be a trial, it can be exhausting and wearing, if we don’t know how to move through the world efficiently in every way possible.

My mom, my elderly mom, bless her heart, who will not, does not want to, and will never consider, embracing technology in any way, is stuck in a world that has become unfriendly and hostile; the non-technical world. She will look up phone numbers in the phone book, wondering why she can’t find listings that “should be there”. Not everyone advertises in the phone book anymore, because, only a handful of people use them. There are a million online listings that are faster and way more informative, with reviews and photos and a map, the hours of business, everything you ever wanted to know about a business without having to get out the magnifying glass and phone book to scour for the number to call and get the information. It’s funny that she trusts the phone book so, because they’ve misspelled her name this edition, and she has been in the phone book, with her name spelled correctly, with the same number, for the past 47 years. I think the post office must be involved. So, once Mom has found the phone number in the phone book, she calls and wonders why she is put through an automated maze and then put on hold for a duration. Well, probably because most folks are accessing the information online, the company has only one or two people who are tasked with taking phone calls, in addition to their actual jobs. Not a priority.

My mom will sit down in her office and write checks, put them in envelopes and drive them to the post office only to hope, against all hope, that the least efficient, least effective organization on the entire planet will deliver the mail in a reasonable amount of time to the correct address. I went out and got the mail for Mom earlier today. There were two pieces of mail in our box addressed to someone three blocks away. They were addressed correctly, delivered incorrectly. Mom has a cell phone on my account. Every month she writes me a check for ten dollars to cover her share. Three seconds later I deposit it into my account with an app on my phone. Before the bank app had such capability, I’d stuff the checks in my wallet, for months on end, because I just won’t go to the bank unless I’ve got a check for like a thousand bucks, or something, which is practically never. Thanks for the app, guys!

Mom talked to my cousins on the phone yesterday, first one, then the other, then the first one again. Somewhere along the line, in her second conversation she mentioned that she’d fallen while ironing while I was not at home. She was fine, but this is a very real danger for someone a few short months from being beyond her octogenarian age. Apparently, that cousin called my other cousin, who, then called Mom back. She recommended an app or a setting on her phone that would be voice activated to call 911. My cousin carries an iPhone, which, my mom is completely confused by and refers to as my “facebook” . I got Mom the simplest, easiest to use, made for old folks, flip phone, at her request. So, Mom asks me about this wonderful technological capability. I said, “Mom, in order to use the phone to obtain help you have to carry the phone. It has been plugged in to the outlet by the microwave since I moved in six months ago. If you fall in the family room, the phone, no matter what app or button it has on it, will not be able to leap up off the kitchen counter, unplug itself and fly to your side to help you.” I pulled my phone from my back pocket, “I keep mine here.” She knows that, and gives me shit for it, too, for always being on my “facebook”. Well, yes, sometimes I’m answering work emails, sometimes I’m texting my kids, often I’m Googling answers to the endless stream of random questions Mom has, and, occasionally, I am on a social networking site.

I digress. I had a great run this morning, moving through and around traffic efficiently, and, as evidenced by my ability to write this article, safely. Look left, look right, do it again. We are everywhere, just trying to move through the world, and life, efficiently, and safely.

Scarlett’s Letter August 19, 2013

Monday, again, already. How?

I actually didn’t drive to Sacramento today. And I had eggs for breakfast. Again. There are patterns in life. Some of them get old.

It was a completely ordinary, sort of mundane day. I worked. I ran errands. I talked on the phone with my Sweetie. I wrote. That’s about it. Except for the last two things, the pattern is getting old.

I noticed something yesterday and the “trend” continued today. Is it National No Blinker Week? Or what? Driving is sort of like being a Quarter Horse, cutting cattle, you have to have the innate ability to predict which direction the driver is going to go, you have to be able to read their subtle moves to have any hope of knowing whether they are going left, going right, changing lanes, or what. Do people realize that not using blinkers is potentially dangerous? And at the very least, rude? How much energy does it take to push down or pull up on a lever with your pinky finger? And then there’s the one driver making up for everyone else’s laziness; blinker on for thirty-seven miles. Sigh.

I do know it is National Potato Day. Did you know this? Who decides this stuff? Was there a potato parade somewhere that I missed? Or a potato festival? I didn’t celebrate National Potato Day, I ate no potatoes. None at all. It is also National Aviation Day and National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day! Woo Hoo! So, would I have spent my day better eating French Fries and soft serve at the airport? I’m marking my calendar, perhaps next year that’s what I’ll do. Life is just too short to let an excuse to celebrate pass us by! Embrace whatever celebration is at hand and party on! I wonder what tomorrow is?

Mom and I seem to have sort of an unspoken competition going; who can find the answer quicker. The answer to what? Anything. Dates. Places. Actors. Movies. Directions. Events, past, present and future. Another reason why breakfast goes way longer than it should. Mom uses her crossword dictionary, the Yellow Pages, bits of newspapers snipped out and paper clipped to her current calendar or stuck to the fridge with a magnet, those free maps you could (can?) get at the AAA office, and, of course, her calendars from all of time with tiny little notes in each square written in tiny cursive script. I use Google, IMBD, WikiPedia and WikiHow the most. I have a Garmin Nuvi for navigation, but will often MapQuest something to get basic distances and travel times. I’m claiming victory about 99.9999993% of the time, but I honestly think Mom would tell you she has the same success rate. We are both very stubborn in our ways, in case that hasn’t already been made evident. I am a lover of technology. Mom is not. Lord knows she’s tried, we’ve tried, we’ve all tried. My dad was adept enough and at the age of ninety-one, had a new Dell laptop, because his desktop computer actually wore out. Now I am in possession of his laptop, I think Mom wanted to bury it with him, and the warranty hadn’t even expired. Dad had a Facebook and managed their NetFlix account and all their online healthcare needs with Kaiser; prescriptions, appointments, and test results. My son tried to teach Mom how to use the computer. Once. It was a valiant attempt, to his credit. Let’s just say she drives her Accord a bit better than she drives the mouse. She, somehow, on her first attempt, selected every icon on the desktop and deposited them into the Recycle Bin. The Accord is, at least, insured.

Mom's Google.
Mom’s Google.
Even more of Mom's Google.
More of Mom’s Google.

This disdain of the modern goes well beyond seeking information. Mom waters the yard every day even though there are automatic sprinklers and irrigation in place. True, it may not be working quite as well as it should l, but she won’t pay the landscape maintenance guy to do a tune up on it. She never trusted it anyway. Instead, every day at some point, with her walking stick and outlandish, ginormous straw hat, her enormous black sunglasses, and, I think, my Dad’s jeans and red plaid shirt, she goes out, grabs the hose, and sprinkles everything.  I think it’s an unspoken competition they have; Mom and the automatic sprinklers. Mom thinks she’s winning.

To her credit, she has totally figured out the TV remotes. But, where there is passion, there is perseverance and, eventually, mastery. Of all the things for her to master, the one thing I cannot tolerate. TV. It isn’t TV that I hate, the device itself is quite useful for displaying real entertainment, it’s the mainstream programming I detest. The news in particular. And for as long as I can remember, she has been an absolute news junky. Every day she reads the news, listens to the news, watches the news multiple times a day, the local news, the national news, the world news, the inter-galactic news. I hate the news as much as she hates my “Facebook” (meaning my iPhone/iPad/MacBook/PC/Kindle). Everything electronic is a “Facebook”. I’ve tried to explain. It hurts. I’ve stopped.

Some of my "Facebooks".
Some of my “Facebooks”.

Ah, but she is out and about, in her insured Accord right now, running errands. The TV is off, the house is quiet, and I am so at peace, I can actually hear myself think. I am seriously considering running downstairs and putting dead batteries in the remote before she gets home. That should thwart her for a good hour or two!

Then I think I’ll have to have eggs for dinner. Again.

Embracing Technology. Hugs!

Whenever you find yourself in a foreign land, you try to learn the customs, the language, perhaps just enough for basic communication. I’ve lived with Mom for a few months, now, and this is what I’ve learned. A “tape” is anything recorded onto any type of media. And more. A tape is a “tape”, a DVD is a “tape”, anything streaming is a, you got it, a “tape”. Anything electronic for personal use is a “facebook”. A smartphone is a “facebook”, a laptop is a “facebook”, my Dell with a docking station and two large monitors is a “facebook”. My iPad and Kindle are both “facebooks”. My TV, when streaming, morphs into a “facebook”. And, to confuse things more, any website or application you use on any of those “facebooks” are also “facebooks”.

My "tape" (DVD) collection. I'd have to make room for "Friends", that's why I want to buy it digitally.
My “tape” (DVD) collection. I’d have to make room for “Friends”, that’s why I want to buy it digitally.
Some of my favorite "facebooks".
Some of my favorite “facebooks”.

I had a discussion with Mom about the “Friends” series. I love “Friends”. I desperately want the series, I’ve wanted it for years. I thought I’d dropped enough hints to enough people over the past decade that perhaps, somewhere along the line, someone would’ve bought it for me as a gift for some gift-giving occasion. I am still “Friendless”. I’ve seen the whole series, multiple times, thank you NetFlix, for your patience, repeatedly sending me those disks (I mean “tapes”) over and over and over again. I’m about to buy the set but don’t want more DVD’s (I mean “tapes”) to store. Mom suggested I “tape” it from her TV each night. She doesn’t have TiVo or DVR, she actually meant VHS. Patiently, I told her no, I haven’t had VHS capability for ten years or so now. I explained that I’d really like to buy the series from iTunes, digitally, but had inadequate digital storage capacity and that the device I’d like costs $500. She gasped and said as soon as I bought that “facebook”, it would be outdated and she launched into a very long, overly detailed story, including details about what was for lunch that day and what people wore. She told of an old neighbor and his ill-fated choice between beta and VHS format, twenty-five years ago. Sigh.

I know we won’t be able to get everyone on the same paperless page, but we could try! How’s this? We don’t keep our 1920’s car simply because we don’t want to invest in a new car, yet, because they’re bound to keep getting better. This is extremely flawed logic, the trend for improvement and advancement is never going to taper off, in fact, it’s likely to continue at an ever-increasing pace. The technology will continue to improve, exponentially, and it’s best to retire the old jalopy and embrace the new, safer, more comfortable, economical and stylish model.  This philosophy applies to the ever-changing technology in the rest of our world, too. Embrace those changes, they’re going to keep happening.

We need to embrace technology, as it comes along, for two reasons; to remain relevant and for the quality of life technology can offer.

I consider myself fairly technologically adept. Especially for someone my vintage. I’m not a digital native, I’m a digital immigrant. Mom is a digital refugee. I’ve always been sort of a “gadget girl”. I was an early adopter of cellular technology. I had a “Go-Phone”, like, five minutes after they came out. It seemed so extravagant at the time, but, boy, the first time my car broke down on the side of the freeway exit ramp with two kids in car seats with me, it became so worth it. I called AAA for a tow and the daycare lady who came and retrieved the kids before anyone even stopped to ask if I needed assistance. The tow truck and the daycare lady showed up at precisely the same time. I followed the tow truck and broken car home, picked up the other car, and was only five minutes late to work. Luckily, I was able to call, them, too, and tell them I’d be just a little late.

My ex-husband embraced cellular technology, too. He had the first cell phone in the family. It had a large, black carrying case with a shoulder strap. He slung it over one shoulder and carried his “lunchbox” computer in his other hand. And that’s where he’d still like to be, with his 1920’s vintage car. He adopted early then evolved begrudgingly. And he was in the software business, until it outran him. He has always been out of control with the cell phone, he’d call me 47 times an hour, while I was at work. Gadget girl that I am, I ran out and got a digital pager and told him I wouldn’t answer my cell phone anymore. He could page me and if I thought it was warranted, that it was an emergency, I’d call him back. So then every page, 47 an hour, came through preceded by a “911”. I was also a very early adopter of screening calls!

I definitely embrace technology. And software. I once, out of sheer desperation, applied to a job where I needed to have software skills in several applications and operating systems I’d never used. This was in 1992; Windows, Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Project and some accounting software, too. To top it all off, I was four and a half months pregnant at the time, and kind of just let them think I was a chubby girl. Out of 250 applicants, somehow, I got the job. Okay, I worked my network. Okay, so, I name-dropped. That’s how it’s done. And in the first week, I had to master all that software well enough to keep up the illusion of proficiency and to be considered so indispensable that they wouldn’t even consider firing me when I was forced to tell them I was pregnant, not fat, because my suits simply wouldn’t zip all the way up anymore. That was the beginning of my accounting career, I stayed with that company for five years. And became the controller. And that’s when I discovered my knack for picking up software very quickly.

Now I teach software to accountants. If it weren’t for technology and software, I don’t know what I’d be doing. Writing, perhaps. Dammit. Maybe I did make a wrong turn. Truth be told, I started college as an accounting major. I hated it. This was well before computers were used in the industry. Those stupid ledger books and the double entry method. I changed my major and actually have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in political science. I worked in a doctor’s office for part of college and did the “bookkeeping” on a pegboard system (Google it). It was just a job and almost paid a bill or two. When the doctor computerized and I helped with the data migration (that’s not what we called it then), I saw, for the first time, the relationship and the intent of the double entry system and the whole accounting thing went “click”. I continued on in college for my accounting course work. It was technology that brought something as lifeless and dull as accounting to life. Well, for me, anyway.

I think technology adds a great deal of quality to life, if properly employed. For example, Mom has “bookwork” today. She spends days and days every month hovering over a spiral bound notebook writing down every receipt, bill, and check of all time. Given enough time, she can produce a gasoline receipt and the corresponding Standard Oil billing statement for a charge in June of 1967, I have no doubt. Mom “goes” to the bank, has never used an ATM before and still writes checks at the store, much to the dismay of everyone in line behind her. Her checkbook is in one wallet, with a rubber band around it, to hold the receipts in place. Her ID is in another wallet, and her grocery store discount/rewards card is in yet another wallet. The coupons are in an envelope, with a rubber band around it. She doesn’t use “duplicate” checks, so she writes the check, in cursive, which isn’t even taught anymore, then records it in the register, complete with the subtraction to determine the balance of her account. By now, the ice cream is melted and the bananas, purchased slightly green, have become bright yellow and speckled. I swear I’m going to be her age before we get the groceries to the car! Now, I got paid Friday morning at the stroke of midnight. My money landed in my account and when I awoke, I rolled over, grabbed my phone, tapped this tapped that, and the few bills I have that aren’t on autopay got paid. My “bookkeeping” software downloads the transactions, including when the payments clear, and all my accounts pretty much, self-balance. I only have to adjust the allocation of an expense here or there, if it really matters.  Zzzzz, yawn, blink, blink, tap, tap, “bookwork” done. Day equals mine.

Or so I thought. Until the mail arrived and I had a renewal notice from the DMV, with their system equally as antiquated Mom’s. Please, please, can we go paperless? And not email? Text me, or, better yet, is there an effective App for that? So I can deal with it, based on a meaningful and timely push notification from the convenience of my smart phone? No. They do have an App, with maps to their offices where you have to wait for hours and hours in line, or sit in those nasty, plastic chairs and wait for your number to be displayed on the museum quality monitors overhead. The App also has practice exams, not helpful. And DMV quality videos, (avoid at all costs). Their App is completely and totally useless. Their website is convoluted, but at least, once you figure it out, kind of almost helpful.

The worst thing about the arrival of the DMV renewal notice was the fact that it had been forwarded from my old address. I moved several months ago and when I did, I went online at dmv.ca.gov and changed my address. Oh, but I only changed it for my driver’s license. You have to change your car’s address, too. So, Meep (my car) gets mail, addressed to me, at my old address. Have we ever heard of relational databases? Match registered owner name with licensed driver name, send everything to newest address on file. Oh. It gets better. Enter the U.S. Postal Service. I had a forwarding order in place. My registration was due three weeks before I received the notice. I should have received it in, oh, May. I got it in, um, August. I don’t think I could be that inefficient if I tried. Really hard!

Mom told me I should write the U.S. Postal Service a letter of complaint. I asked her if I should mail it? Should I buy a stamp, funding their stubborn incompetence, adhere said stamp to an envelope and mail it to them? I was apoplectic.

But, Mom mails checks to everyone for payment. Piles and piles and piles of checks. Every week, after she does her “bookwork”, there’s a pile of several little envelopes, full of checks, with her tidy cursive writing in the return address area provided on the envelope. And stamps in the corner, funding the U.S.P.S. again! She can’t believe I pay everything electronically. How terrifying to just send it “out there”. Oh, I don’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of data encryption. It seems far more prudent versus mailing a check where you are sending a piece of paper that will pass through the hands of many many many people and it has your bank routing number, account number, your name, address, phone number, maybe even your driver’s license number, and a valid signature that will 100% match the signature card on file (electronically) at your bank. That doesn’t sound safe at all! I’ll take my chances with data encryption. Yes, my data has been compromised a time or two, my bank called me, emailed me and texted me multiple times within minutes to verify the activity, then took appropriate action. Because I took advantage of that technology. Without all those systems in place, fraudulent activity can go unnoticed for a time. And if it goes unnoticed for too long the bank can no longer do anything about it and it could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each time. I’ll take my chances with electronic payment and data encryption.

The best part of the story. Do you know how my bank suspected fraudulent activity? There were purchases made, with my debit card number, from Wal Mart. My bank knows me that well! The chances of me spending money at Wal Mart are so infinitesimal, it’s about as likely as encrypted data becoming compromised!

Yes, I am “like this” with technology. It is my friend.

I just got a pop up notice on my MacBook that said “Shade’s iPhone4 seeking blue-tooth pairing.” I don’t know anyone named Shade. I clicked a button and denied the request. I heard voices in the street out front and glanced out the window. There were two tween-aged adolescents standing by the mailbox in front of my house, staring at their iPhones. From behind the lace curtain I shouted, “Hey, Shade! Is that you?” They nearly shit their pants as they took off down the street! I love technology! Totally made my day, especially since I have everything on my computer encrypted and pass worded. Nice try Shade. What a doofus, still has an iPhone4. At least they weren’t stealing Mom’s checks out of the mailbox.

Scarlett’s Letter July 8, 2013

There were errands to be run and business to be tended to today, and nothing really, terribly interesting about either. I decided to get my WiFi fix at the local Barnes and Noble.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am pretty technologically dependent. I travel with two laptops, an iPad, an iPod, two iPhones, a Kindle, a helmet camera, a digital camera and a few other personal electronic devices. My backpack/computer bag is like a miniature, transportable, Best Buy. I am fairly internet dependent, as well. I Google EVERYTHING, unless the topic involves movies or personalities, in which case IMDB is my reference tool of choice.  I rely on internet both for work and for many of my leisure activities, such as social networking, blogging and vlogging.

My man is the complete opposite. He has an iPhone and a television, often with only one channel, usually PBS. He lives far enough from town that there is, at best, one bar of cellular service available. On a good day. If you’re standing outside, at the edge of the porch. We are accepting of each other and our respective technological aptitude, dependency (me) and abstinence (him).

I managed for the first week fairly well. I was able to tap out an article here or there and would post from the car with my MiFi device en route to and from areas with cellular coverage. I even managed to upload pictures with my articles from the passenger seat of the car. I felt very adept. But, even though I was able to accomplish a lot with my brief mobile internet sessions, I was jonesing a bit for a prolonged online session. This day was just the ticket.

I have made use of this particular Barnes and Noble, in Fairbanks, Alaska, before. I was a regular there during my last visit north. I know the lay of the land. There is one, just one, table near an electrical outlet. There are two armchairs, without tables, with electrical outlets behind them. There is a hard wooden chair next to a pillar in the children’s section with an outlet, as a last resort. And though there are several lovely, cushy armchairs circling a round fireplace, sadly, they are “powerless”, all of them. There is free WiFi, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. It is a bit weak and you have to accept the terms over and over again, every couple of hours. Still, it is better than nothing, so I was grateful and, when necessary, just pulled out my own WiFi (MiFi) device if the “free” signal became too weak.

So, today, I caught up on downloading tunes, Kindle books, Audible books and catching up on the YouTube channels I subscribe to. I uploaded several things and caught up on the news on Facebook. I had a geeky gadget girl ‘gasm. It was grand!

It is interesting, though, what happens when someone as technically inclined as I am is without technical resources. When asked a question or a definition of a word, I will usually Google. Without Google, at first, I was a bit befuddled. But, I can be resourceful and soon I figured out I could just pull out my Kindle and access the dictionary. In another instance, a cooking term had us both in a quandary. No Google available and the dictionary on the Kindle was of no help. I grabbed “The Joy of Cooking” off my man’s windowsill and looked up the word in the index and read the recipe for details. I felt so old school. I felt so smart. I felt so resourceful. I have to wonder, being a digital immigrant, myself, if a digital native would even know what to do without their digits!

I have always believed that true intelligence is not the memorization of facts but the ability to identify and access the appropriate references or information. True, I have great admiration for those in my profession who can recite tax code or audit guidance, chapter and verse. I am not one of those people. But I have no less admiration or respect for those who know where to access that same information when needed. Whether digitally or not.

Later in the day, we were watching a PBS broadcast on the one channel on the old school television. And by “old school” I mean you have to get up, walk over to the television and hit buttons to adjust the volume or try to access another (sporadic) channel. The show we watched was about a “new” method of teaching history in a high school district in Northern California. The students were given access to different accounts or documentation of historical events. They had to “source” the documents from different accounts of the event and interpret the information, then summarize, in their own opinion, what occurred historically. In other words, in case you don’t realize this, history, like many other things we all tend to consider “factual”, is really just an account of events interpreted by any number of authors. I studied political science, my minor, in college, and in several of my courses, had to access different source documents and make my own, independent interpretation. I had to “source” my documents; I had to know who wrote it, where they got their information, understand their interest or position in order to determine the reliability of the information and how much of that information I would be willing to consider in my own, independent interpretation.

Sourcing information, it seems, is not something everyone is practiced at or knowledgeable about. If it’s on the news, it must be true, because “they” said so. So many people just accept, blindly, what they read in the newspaper, what they hear on the radio or see on television as absolute fact. This goes further. History. Religion. Science. Politics. Law. Medicine. There are many different opinions, many different accounts, many different interpretations and, hence, many different beliefs, and, truly, very few hard facts. As you go through your day, whether you are a digital native or a digital immigrant or a digital refugee, know that wherever you obtain information there are likely to be different sources, different opinions and different interpretations. Our success, our peace of mind, our understanding, and the basis for many decision we make, all rely on our recognition of this fact and our ability to understand, research and arrive at our own, independent conclusion.

So, wherever you derive information from, whether online, like me, today, or offline, like me the rest of this week, knowing where to access it and how to source it and understanding that there are likely to be many different interpretations or accounts of the same “facts”, is really what intelligence is all about. True wisdom is acknowledging this. Consider the common saying, “consider the source” and then, do,

Technological dependency. There may be no cure.
Technological dependency. There may be no cure.

consider it.

 

Scarlett’s Letter June 13, 2013

Another day nose to the grindstone, just getting stuff done. I’m just trying to get hyper-organized and get all the loose ends wrapped up before I leave home for a month. On Saturday.

Good news, though! Bless the airline gods! Two of three segments upgraded to first class for my red-eye flight Saturday night! If I can’t sleep, I can drink free wine!

Mom goes to the medical center routinely and has blood work done to monitor her anemic condition. My dad used to always go online and print out any medical test results. That, now, has become my responsibility. I knew I had the capability to print to my printer at home, from anywhere, but I just hadn’t really set it up and worked it all out. Today, I mastered it. I can actually pull up her results on my iPhone, from wherever I am (as long as I have internet) and have them print on the printer in my office at home. Magic. I love technology.

With the installation of a few cool iPhone apps, I have also centralized a whole bunch of random notes, passwords, membership information and other annoying data. I’m just feeling so “together”.

I had an amazing lunch, chicken tacos, out on the deck. One of the luxuries of working from home (occasionally); actually being able to cook the largest meal of the day for lunch and having a “light” dinner. I really think this is much healthier for us. And being able to eat outside and listen to the birds. Ok, crows. We have a flock of crows hanging around that have chased all the birds away, and one crow sat on the very tip of a tree limb and carefully watched me eat my tacos. I guess crows are better than the turkey vultures that used to perch on the deck railing and stare in the kitchen window at my parents while they read the paper in the morning!

I made, made, made myself go to the gym tonight. And I’m so glad I did. I went to a yoga class and had an instructor I haven’t had before. She was awesome! We did about an hour of strength poses followed by a half an hour of inversions and relaxation poses. Just the thing for my tight muscles from all the running I’ve done this week! I came home limber, relaxed and hungry and ate the other half of my Amy’s Margherita pizza with some red wine.

My biggest project for the day, and one I’ve kind of put off all week because I was busy masterminding it; wrapping the gifts I got my Sweetie for his birthday (which was a couple of days ago). Since we live so far apart, his gifts will be arriving when I do. I just had to figure out how to get them from here, to there. I’ll be checking them, like luggage, for a fee, which is still way less than the post office would charge. I admit, like everything I do, I may have got just “a little” carried away in “wrapping” the box. It will be funny to see it come off the luggage carousel. I’m sure he’ll be able to tell in about a half a second which item is his gift. I may have spent as much on tape as I did the gift (kidding). But I had fun with it, and it’s all done, and ready to go. Which I am not.

Ahead tonight, and tomorrow; packing for four weeks. One week of work and play in Manhattan, the better part of the next week in New Jersey for work (so heels and pretty clothes for two weeks) followed by two weeks in Alaska, fishing and stuff (so jeans and boots for two weeks). Again, I think I have it masterminded. And, if all else fails, I have my credit card!!

The gift. Do you think he'll be able to tell it's from me?!
The gift. Do you think he’ll be able to tell it’s from me?!
My chicken tacos. So yummy!
My chicken tacos. So yummy!