Wait

I’m going to be really honest. Things aren’t great right now, but I am hopeful that things will get better. I have to be.

I’m saddened and so upset about what is going on in the White House. It all feels overwhelming and like I can’t affect any change. Outside of politics, there are a lot of serious things in my life that are up in the air. Serious things that I cannot control, but I have to wait. It’s hard thinking that in a few weeks, or months, or (hopefully) never my life maybe could be turned upside down. I just don’t know. And I HATE not knowing. 

I still struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, my anxiety manifests itself as an insatiable desire for control. I need all the information I can get. I need knowledge to satisfy my cravings for control.

And right now, I have to give up control. I feel like I am in a kitchen watching a chef make wings but I am tied to a chair with duct tape on my mouth so that I cannot tell the chef how to toss the wings how they should be. I have to stop trying to hold on to things that I can’t.

The need for control has especially been hard with my head. As you may have read before, I am still dealing with severe head pain, dizziness, ringing in my ears, blurred and double vision, and onset depression. I have been working for months to figure out what is going on and how to treat it. I have been to quite a few doctors, tried quite a few medications and treatments, and now I will be getting a lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) in a few weeks. It’s hard when your brain (for a comic and writer, your most valuable asset) is hurting and you have to wait until the medicine kicks in or wait for it to stop. It feels like all I do is wait: for a new treatment, for a new referral, or for the pain to go away.

I keep trying to focus on the good ahead. I am going to continue to force myself to be patient and think about wings in the oven, about to come out. Wings that are so tasty and worth the wait.

 

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Winning or Losing?

I didn’t know I was competitive until I started exercising regularly and doing stand up more frequently. Growing up, my little sister always wanted to make mundane activities a competition: who can put on their seat belt the fastest, who could swing the highest, who could run the fastest…and I frankly didn’t care about winning so I usually let my sister win unless she pissed me off.

I got bit by the competition bug when I started going to spin classes in 2013. If a skinnier girl than me started adding gear, so did I. If a tiny waif started spinning harder than me, I picked up my pace. I wasn’t going to let them win a race they knew nothing about as I silently sweated next to them. Comedy became a competition within myself: how can I do better than I did last time I was on stage, how can I write more, and how can I get closer to hitting my goals.

The competitor side of me can also cause me to lose…a lot. I get so caught up in winning that I end up beating myself. I didn’t realize the hold it had on me until I started getting this on going tension headache. Amidst the pain, I was punishing myself for an injury putting me on the sideline of my comedy game. Recently being diagnosed with vertigo hasn’t helped either.

My sister and I went up to my parents to celebrate Christmas. It was very relaxing with watching football being the only competition. Frankly, I do not really enjoy watching football, but I appreciate the social aspect. The one game I was committed to watching was my sister’s Alma Mater vs. her ex-boyfriend’s university. It was a game that meant more than just guys pushing each other and running around…it felt bigger and almost as if my sister and her ex were on the field. To prepare for the match up, we assembled appetizers and finger foods to eat while we watch slabs of meat on a patch of grass.

I have written before about my sister and I’s bond with wings. My mom knew that wings would be perfect for the game. My mom loves Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. She has a few of her cookbooks and found a wing recipe she wanted to try for the football game.IMG_0070.JPG

I appreciate my mom making wings. They are not in her wheel house but she knew that my sister and I would enjoy them. These are not typically a style of wing I would enjoy but it was good and satisfied my spicy craving. They were like a spicy rotisserie chicken.

After we loaded up our plates with wings and snacks, we sit down to watch the game in our team apparel and start chanting and casting spells for my sister’s ex to be devastated and know what scum he is.

Well, actually, we just were cheerful and I pretended to know what was happening in the game. I had a glass of red wine and an adult coloring book to help. Even if I was not actively trying to figure out what a “down” is, I wanted my sister to know that she had me on her team and that I wanted to beat that clown’s stupid college.

It was sad that my sister’s team ended up not winning, it felt personal. But it wasn’t. It was a competition we put on ourselves. It was a reminder to me that, I am going to lose. I am going to suck, but I have to be grateful that I get to compete. I have to remember that not winning, only makes opportunities to win even sweeter and more meaningful. That football game or being sidelined does not mean failure, it means an opportunity to get better.

Buffalo Wings of the Ocean

I love going out of town and leaving daily life behind. Frankly, who doesn’t. I love exploring a new place and trying all of the food. Yeah… most people feel that way. I certainly felt like I was overdue for a vacation, like my engine has been running on fumes and it was time for an injection of the ocean.

Fortunately, my boyfriend’s parents invited us to meet them in Key West for vacation/ interrogation/ proof that my boyfriend bagged a catch like me. I can’t imagine a better way to get to know a significant others guardians than doing it seaside.

BF and I flew down to Miami then took a scenic convertible ride to Key West. Having the top down and feeling the sun and breeze on my face helped me forget about all about what’s going on back home and helped release the pain in my head.

As soon as we took the seven mile bridge onto the island of Key West, I felt like everything that had been bothering me was practically gone. I was nervous about meeting his dad and step-mom, mostly that I would say something really dumb and then they hate me.

We arrive and exchange pleasantries and head over to start the best part of vacations: eating. Starting on the right foot, we get to Schooner Warf Bar in the Old Town part of Key West. This is a total vets joint. It started as a tiny dockside bar and they just kept adding on umbrella-ed tables and makeshift seating areas, kinda like a weird friendship bracelet of leathery tattooed skin and strong rum drinks. The ambiance was completed by an old lady smoking and hand rolling cigars.

I’m got that giddy vacation feeling as a order a mojito served in a plastic cup while watching a Keith Richards lookalike sing, sitting next to my boyfriend near some boats. I’m set.

We order a few appetizers for the four of us: peel-n-eat shrimp, a dozen raw oysters, conch fritters, crab cakes, and to my surprise, BUFFALO SHRIMP.

Yes, fresh Key West Pink Shrimp breaded and tossed in a tangy buffalo sauce. I had low expectations IMG_0020.JPGbut it was everything I could have ever wanted: my favorite critter of the sea and my favorite sauce. I honestly could have eaten a bucket of them.

It’s crazy to me that just having Buffalo Shrimp helped me set the tone for vacation and helped me not have word vomit on the parental units.

It was such a relaxing trip which made for a sad departure.

I keep thinking about those delicious baby wings of the sea as my headache has come back in full swing.

I like taking snapshots of special moments in my head and reflect on them when I need a boost. I feel grateful that I can use those buffalo shrimp and staring off into the ocean with my man by my side to get through my migraines. It’s wonderful knowing there’s a place in Key West where I can get buffalo shrimp.

 

It’s been a while…

Have you ever felt like you are just waiting? Like waiting in line for a ride but when you turn the corner there’s another whole warehouse of lines to wait in?

I have been feeling that way since the second week of October. I started getting migraine headaches that was later coupled with an ear infection. The ear infection got better but my head kept pounding. I went back to the doctor. I got new medicine. I got worse. I went back to the doctor. I got new medicine. I got a little better. I took a turn for the worse. I got busy with comedy. I went back to the doctor. I got new meds. I got another doctor. I got better. I have tests coming up.

I don’t know.

And here I am, still waiting in line. On a new medicine to cope with a migraine/tension headache. I feel better and am able to go to work and live my life with a much smaller headache but it still sucks as much as Domino’s wings.

I hate being an ailment queen but I am being a 100% candid because I don’t feel like myself and I feel like people can tell. I feel like I have wing sauce all over my face and no one will tell me. The major identifier that I am not myself is I haven’t wanted any wings.

The worst thing has happened to me. I have only eaten chicken wings once in two months. I, generally, crave wings all the time. Lately, meh. Brain, seriously, can we talk?

Hey Brain, I get it. I know you’re hurting right now but I don’t know why. I didn’t hit you or make you watch Westworld. So what gives?

Hey Annie, yeah. I’m just super over this whole hot wings and comedy thing you’re doing.

You understand that those two things make me incredibly happy right?

Yeah, I know. We all know. I’m just in a bad mood okay? If you keep asking me questions, I’m just going to go to my room! GAHH!

I’m trying to find the positives in prolonged pain. It’s challenging but I am thankful. I am grateful that through Obamacare I was able to get affordable healthcare so I can see doctors, I am thankful for awesome bosses who are incredibly understanding, I’m thankful for B and him being there for me when I need it most.

And I am thankful for wings.I’m thankful that wings will always be around and that I can write silly stuff about them and how yummy they are.

 

 

 

Indoor Wing Fest

I am so over September. Last weekend, I was in a friends wedding up in the mountains after a week full of shows. I had my “public” face on for a whole month it seemed like. If you’re not sure what I mean by public face, I mean that alert, self-aware, poised, polite self that you are when you are in public situations. Either working retail, being a comic, or being a bridesmaid: you gotta be on your best behavior. I was ready to let my hair down.

The day after the wedding, my man, B and I decided to take a long motorcycle ride which is exactly what I needed to unwind. I never understood the appeal of motorcycles until I started riding with B. It’s very freeing and helps clear your mind like meditation does in an odd way. The rumble of the motor, the wind on your face, and the silence of your thoughts inside the helmet really is so relaxing.

As we were riding around, we saw signs for the “Atlanta Wing Festival sponsored by Chicken”. We rolled up to the Puritan Mill on the Westside and were surprised to see a massive line forming at the entrance of the event space. It didn’t look like a wing fest. It looked like a cook book signing.

We get inside and hear that it’s sold out. I have been to a few food and music events in my day and usually food events have tickets reserved for walk up sales. So I was a little peeved. Maybe I didn’t have the right to be, but I was assume that they would consider how many signs they put up that didn’t say it was sold out.

Just as B and I started to walk a way, a friendly photographer offered up her two tickets that she claimed she didn’t need. We tried to pay her for them but she refused. Holy chicken nuggets! VIP for free!?!?!

We walk in and it looks way way too fancy for a wing fest. It looked like someone took a leopard mini skirt and tried to dress it up for a cocktail party. Essentially, taking all of the fun out of wings.

Georgia heat can be unbearable so I can totally understand the appeal of having it inside but with the black table cloths and white swag hanging from the ceiling, they should have been serving samples of she crab soup. We saunter over to the “Very Important Persons” section for our complimentary cocktails and small leather couch section for even more important people. It was odd. I practically never have cocktails with my wings, and the event had two cocktail sponsors and Goose Island as a beer sponsor. Where is the local beer? I do not want a fruity vodka drink with spicy wings. I want a delicious pilsner or hoppy IPA.

We finally get to the wing stations each chef and/or restaurant has set up. You could tell how much the event coordinators liked certain wing slingers based on their location. The middle sections had the best wings and the wings on the perimeter, were on the perimeter of adequate.

We tried practically every wing that was to be had. Their system of wing accumulation was a free for all. You could get as many as you wanted from as many or as few stations as you would like, which seems like a good  value but ended up pretty wasteful. I would take one bite and if I didn’t like it, I would toss it.

Out of all the wings we sampled, NONE OF THEM were traditional buffalo or even BBQ. (A few Nashville Hot Chicken contenders showed out, thankfully.) If you wanted fusion wings, this was your joint. Too many wing slingers focused on being different and fancy over being good. (See the wing above covered in cilantro and sesame seeds.) To me, a really great wing is simple: well seasoned and tender chicken with a crispy outer layer, covered in a well crafted sauce. NO ONE DID THAT! By the end of the second recon, I was really over Asian inspired wings (and really tired of trying to balance wing trays and a drink with few tables). I was really over average wings with below average sauces.

I truly appreciate that Taste of Atlanta had a wing-centric food fest but there was no fun spirit. It felt stuffy, pretentious, and serious. Most people there seemed to enjoy the acoustic guitar music and eating pickled watermelon compote atop a sesame and chili glazed wing, but there was no fun.

Fortunately, B and I hopped on the Harley and went antiquing like most millennials after a wing fest would do.

HOTTEST Wings

Lately, I have been repeating the same theme over and over, ” Once this month is over…”

Once May is over… Once June is over…Once July is over… Once August is over… Once September is over…

I am trying to get though this challenging time by looking forward to things easing up. My life feels like I ordered really hot wings and as soon as I am done with one, I pick up another, trying to finish the basket as efficiently as possible.

I keep feeling like I can handle the hottest sauce but I get in the middle of the pack of wings and question if I can get through it. I want to be tough but I also really get tired of my eyes watering.

I’m really a medium sauce kind of girl. I can take heat but it has to be consistent. I never back down from a challenge and it’s that hope of a refreshing blue cheese finish that is keeping me a float.

I feel fortunate that I have people in my life that are eating those hotter than hell wings with me and are continuously supportive. If I had known, years ago when I was taking the hottest heat, that I would one day have someone to help take the heat off, I would have felt more assured and optimistic.

It is challenging when you want to taste the flavors of that hot sauce but only get a burn that hits your sinuses. I can see the blue cheese at the end of the tunnel and I hope I can utilize that rejuvenation and revitalization to help my friends and loved ones get through their hottest sauce. Taking time to text or call someone can ease the burn, and I am so appreciative of people in my life who have done so. I’m going to return the flavor! You may not can taste or smell what sauce people are dealing with but it may be hotter and stings more than they may let on.

Mushy Wings

As most of you have read on here, or heard my stand up, or happen to be my friend, or hopefully all three, I have a long trail of men I have left bloody and heartbroken. I think I have dated most archetypes of guys and had some really horrible dates that typically ended in me saying, “ugh. I need some wings.”

Last night, I had my fifth installment of Comedy on Draught at Three Taverns Brewery and the theme was dating, relationships and heartbreak. It really got me thinking about all of my dating experiences and relationships and what they have taught me.  Since 2014, I have worked really hard to develop my craft as a stand up comic and it completely shifted my thinking.

Most of my teen and young adult life, all I wanted was to be liked by boys. I wanted to like what they liked, I wanted to be pretty enough, and I wanted to be fun enough. I thought I was independent and I thought I was in control. My dating body count was getting high from having relationships/ “continuous-monogamous dating with no label” consistently shorter than 6 months. I had my fill of first and only dates. But after taking some time away from dating and taking more time to focus on stand up, I finally began to know I was independent, know I was in control and that if some dumb guy didn’t like me for me, he could kiss my grits.

The more time and energy I put into stand up, the less time I had outside of it and work and I was pretty happy about it… most of the time. Anytime I felt down about not having a date to a wedding or wishing I would get cast on the Bachelor (yes, I did audition), I remembered that there was someone even better than I could imagine out there for me. I reminded myself that I needed to take RuPaul’s advice:

IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF,

HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU LOVE SOMEBODY ELSE?

I still have work to do but I felt ready this past winter. I dated a cool, fun, ADVENTURE DUDE! But I was an accessory to his social life, I was his award show audience filler. I did my usual routine of 2 months of realizing he wasn’t right for me, and ended it.

I got back on Bumble, the dating app that requires women to initiate contact within 24 hours or else the match was deleted forever. I was hopeful but not invested.

Almost 7 months ago, I matched with a really handsome guy, we had really good conversation and subsequently went to sushi. It was so nice and easy but I didn’t know what I was in for.

I didn’t know he would take me to Fox Brother’s for my birthday wings.

I didn’t know he would be there for me during my highs and supporting me at my lows.

I didn’t know how I could feel this way about someone.

To many, 6 months is a very short about of time and this all seems silly. To me, being with this caring man over six months means that my years of pickiness and years of dealing with the “game”, brought me to this point.

To celebrate our 6 months together, this caring gentleman planned a dinner (and rock climbing the next day) for us.

I had no idea where we were going for dinner because he and I have always been culinary curious. He kept dropping hints and I asked, “Are we going to Fogo De Chao?” (based on previous conversations about how I had never been.)

“Yes. You guessed it.” I was  little taken a back about his prompted answer and mad that we had a late lunch but I was ready to hop aboard the meat train when our Uber arrived. He made sure our driver didn’t spill the beans about exactly where we were going. The driver takes us a way I hadn’t been before but I knew we were near Little 5 Points. This isn’t near Fogo De Chao… We pull down a residential street and we get out of the car to walk.

We walk up to Fox Brothers BBQ where he took me for my birthday. Where he told me he knew he wanted to be with me. Where he found out that I was special. That he thought about taking me to a foodie place but he wanted to take me somewhere special to him.

Wings mean a lot to me. But what means the most to me is someone truly cares about me and would rather eat wings with me than be at a ~hot~ restaurant.

I didn’t know that I could be so overwhelmed by eating smoked chicken wings with someone.

I truly believe what I have said before about eating wings with someone is really personal, and I feel incredibly fortunate that I have someone to eat them with.

 

 

Down the Street

This past weekend was one of the most relaxing ones I have had in a long time. Friday night, my comedy buddy Ian and I met up for wings. His husband was out of town and my boyfriend was as well so it was a great excuse for wings and comedy.

We went to World of Beer down the street from the Laughing Skull. I rarely spend time at the restaurants and bars around the Skull and I have been to the usual “cool” sports bars to the left of the entrance like Fado’s, Taco Mac, and ~bleh~ Hudson Grill but rarely go to the right of the Skull. I honestly forgot it was there, I usually come from the other direction so this was a nice change.

Ian and I both got the beer special, Evil Twin’s Femme Fatale Kabosu. A true IPA brewed with Japanese citrus fruit Kabosu which tasted amazing.

One thing I really appreciated about WOB’s food menu was the suggestion of  beer pairings next to the food. So the IPA was a great suggestion for their Medium Buffalo Wings. They came out hot, shiny, and promising. I love a wing’s color being this deep red/orange/brown.

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I appreciated the blue cheese cups where wide enough for the width of the wing to be dunked, if need be.

They had a nice flavor and a kick that give the buffalo flavor a nice dimension. The meat was tender but my only draw back was the skin was not very crispy. It would have been a home run if it has a little crunch. Overall, these wings were satisfying and made my dinner with Ian very enjoyable.

We then headed over to the Laughing Skull to catch the late show. Usually when I’m there I’m not sitting in the audience, but Ian suggested it. I’m so gad we did!

Sometimes, as many comics do, we get into routines and only see what we do on stage from a comics perspective. It was so refreshing to be in the audience and watch a show as a spectator. It was a weekend that encouraged me to look at things with a different lens, to come from the other side of the street. I could have missed out on some tasty wings if Ian hadn’t suggested WOB. I could have missed out on some comedy education if we hadn’t sat in the audience. I am terrified of being stuck in my ways and not growing. Us comics do this thing where we tell jokes that we like so much that we can’t stop telling them even if audiences aren’t big fans. I have to remind myself that behavior like that spills over into our personal lives whether its eating wings the same way at the same place or repeating the same behaviors over and over.

It’s time to see and taste things from another perspective before I miss out.

 

Gratitude

Gratitude has been hard to find lately. People expressing their gratitude feels like it rarely happens. In stand up comedy, you are an island. Your drive, your willingness to push comes from inside. You cannot rely on others (except for applause and laughter from a crowd) to lift you up. So when someone does encourage you or show gratitude for the show your hosting/running, it feels like heaven: washing your hands with warm water after being in a cold office. There is also that self doubt that happens where someone tells you that your show is great but you question whether or not they really “mean” it. So you learn to be desensitized and learn to continue to look internally.

Gratitude in all aspects of life is important. I think it doesn’t happen at work as much as it should. Bosses forget that their employees need little nuggets of praise to continue doing well. I worked for a woman about a year ago who never told me I did a good job. I was early or on time every day. I went above and beyond what my job required to help grow profits. I DID grow sales for the business. But she was a dragon mother: breathing fire and did not believe in positive reinforcement. All I wanted was for her to say that she was appreciative of the 17 day week I worked, and that worked my ass off.

When I go the job I am currently at, I felt like a new person. I felt like my hard work mattered. Crazy enough, my bosses show gratification! Yesterday, my boss took me to TacoMac for lunch. He knows I love wings and this is the closest wing place that isn’t Hudson Grill (barf.) I devoured those wings and enjoyed talking to him about work and movies. He told me I was doing good work and I deserved the wings for being a great employee. It was so needed. Buying me wings was enough but the verbal affirmation that my work is being noted makes a huge difference.

Those wings filled me up with more than spicy sauce. It filled me up with gratitude for my bosses and my job. It gave me the encouragement to show more gratitude to people in my life. I know I don’t take enough time to tell people that I’m grateful to have them in my life.

Comedy has conditions you to not be as sensitive but there are times we all desire someone to say, “Hey, thanks for being in my life.” I have been bogged down with stress from feeling like what I am giving isn’t enough. ( I also am aware I need to put more into other friendships.) I think in any friendship, it’s rarely 50/50… sometimes its 30/70 and sometimes its 49/51. I have no problem with it, I do have an issue with feeling like the 100% I’m putting in is quickly a vapor. Wanting gratitude feels so selfish to talk about…“Why can’t I do things for people in my life and not care if I get a sincere thank you?”  I know, we are all human and we will never get it perfect and never be the BEST person but I sure as hell want to try my best.I want to put those feelings of desire for appreciation aside but it’s hard to when your well of wing sauce feels like its running dry and other people need to sauce their wings.

I am challenging myself to do better with telling people what I like about them and what I am grateful for. I know how much it sucks when someone in your life: a boss, a friend, or significant other, doesn’t acknowledge your percentage. I want to make sure that when I can, I will make time to get wings with someone or dip them in my well of wing sauce.

 

Wings for President!

Now that most of my friends know about my affinity wings and desire to eat them ALL, I get a lot of recommendations for new wing spots.

I love it! I always want to find the underrated and delicious wings the city of Atlanta has to offer. I try to give every spot a chance. When I hear, “Annie, you HAVE to go to X-TREME BUFFALO MAYHEM WAREHOUSE! They have the best wings!” I give the recommendation the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they know something I don’t.

It is rough when I go to a recommended wing spot and they are shoddy and I get asked,” Wuddya think!?!?!” and I don’t want to tell them, “Those wings might as well been from a pigeon and I could have just used Frank’s and had a better experience.”

I have to remember, people may believe that those wings are the best because that is all they had ever experienced. Maybe they like those wings because the venue and the people are more meaningful. There are too many emotional and conditional factors that make wings a favorite. Maybe their parents loved those wings and that was their family’s favorite Friday night tradition.

I know that there are times that going to my closest wing spot with my coworkers satisfies my craving and I enjoy the experience because of the conditions surrounding the poultry consumption.

I have been trying to take this same approach with the election season. I know people’s life experiences and conditions shape their political opinion and the only thing I can do is listen and take a bite of their political chicken wing. It’s okay if I don’t like it. It’s okay if it’s not from my neighborhood joint. I just don’t want people to give me a platter of their wings, tie my arms behind my back, shove wings in my piehole, and berate me for not enjoying them. I definitely do not want to be scared into eating wings because if I don’t eat those wings the whole buffalo sauce industry will collapse and terrorists will take our wings away. There are also wings that will unintentionally make you sick and never want to put a wing near your face.

I will never understand why some people choose the political wings they do but I hope that people listen to others and try as many wing spots as possible.

As for me, I know what wings are my favorite and I hope people respect me for researching and seeking out the best.

So respect others wings but remember that there are some that will give you food poisoning.