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Lil' ol' me on a big ol' stage.
Lil' ol' me on a big ol' stage.

Humans are often meaner than animated cows

Last Thursday, I had the honor of reading in a performance showcase called Verbatim. Milwaukee club owner, novelist and spoken word artist Dasha Kelly organized the event. It took place in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s intimate Stackner Cabaret and was really successful on many levels.

I was intrigued with the invitation because, these days, I rarely share my writing outside of my OnMilwaukee.com articles and blogs. And there’s a lot of it. I keep a personal blog and write a lot of poetry, letters and creative non-fiction.

It was interesting -- and a little unnerving -- to share my "private" writings. In the end, I really enjoyed the experience and I received very sincere, positive feedback. Hence (God, I love the word "hence"), I thought I would take it a step further and share the piece I read for Verbatim here, too. Have at it.

Humans are often meaner than animated cows

In 2002, I adopted a baby boy from Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Unfortunately, the reality of international adoption boils down to money and whether or not one can cough it up. It cost $28,000 to adopt my son -- almost all of the money went to lawyers -- and the only reason I could afford this was because I accidentally made a couple of lucrative real estate investments in the late '90s.

I start off by saying this because I want to share what it is like to be a white mother with a brown son, but I want to make it clear that by no means am I suggesting it is a hardship. It is, indeed, a privilege.

And yet, my experiences -- I am not sure what else I might also call them -- are undeniable. They are perplexing, infuriating, heartwarming, comical. And so I write about them; here are six vignettes:

Uno.

We are at a family reunion in a small town in northern Wisconsin. I am straddling on my hip my 13-month-old-son and have my newborn son strapped to my front. I am standing in the garage, drinking a beer (no judgments, por favor) and a distant family member saunters over to me.

"You got q…

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Uncle Larry will play a free show!
Uncle Larry will play a free show!

Crazy-fun event benefits mental illness group

My friend Peter Hoeffel is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a fantastic local organization that provides mental health education, support and advocacy. Peter sent me an e-mail today about a FREE and awesome-sounding special event that NAMI is hosting tomorrow night and I wanted to pass ‘er along.

Creativity Heals will take place at the Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N. 4th St., on Friday, Nov. 12. The event will feature Milwaukee band Uncle Larry, a performance by the local hula-hoop troop Hoop Vive, spoken word artists and a two-act play about suicide and bipolar disorder called "Pieces In My Own Voice." Plus, 10 local artists will sell their visual art and food and drinks will be available.

The doors open at 5 p.m. and the performances start at 6. The event is free, but donations are accepted and all proceeds go to help NAMI Greater Milwaukee.

The bat-shaped chip. Impressive, eh?
The bat-shaped chip. Impressive, eh?
The arrow-shapped chip. No extra nibbling took place to create this.
The arrow-shapped chip. No extra nibbling took place to create this.
The pig-shaped chip is not mine. I ganked it from the Internet.
The pig-shaped chip is not mine. I ganked it from the Internet.

Chips shaped like people and things

A few years ago, I remember reading an article about a woman who found a potato chip featuring the image of Jesus. Also, I heard of a pig-shaped chip for sale on eBay as well as a cornflake in the shape of Illinois that actually sold.

Lately, I have become one of these wack-a-doos tapped into the world of chip imagery. In the past couple of weeks, I discovered a blue corn chip in the shape of a bat (just days before Halloween, mind you) and last night at Conejito’s, I found a tortilla chip in the spitting image of an arrow.

I always enjoyed a good game of "look what that cloud looks like" both during my own childhood and now with my kids. I swear, I have seen clouds in the form of a kangaroo, a VW Beetle and George Carlin.

But this chip aberration is new for me. Artform or borderline mental ilness? Who cares! I have a whole bag of red hot El Rey chips at home and I can't wait to see who / what is inside.

The McRib: Naturally supersized since 1981.
The McRib: Naturally supersized since 1981.

The McRib: cultish and delicious or just plain weird?

I have eaten very little meat since August’s cheeseburger eating challenge, but I just might hork down a McRib sandwich this week. Not because the pressed meat patty that's made to look like it contains bones sounds particularly appealing, but because McDonald’s McRib is cropping up repeatedly in my daily life. It’s getting creepy.

It started with the billboards. I normally don’t consciously pay attention to McDonald’s marketing, but for some reason, the McRib campaign this time around really captures my attention. I thought I  filtered out the tragically stale word "awesome" when used in all forms of written and verbal communication, but for some reason, when positioned in a McRib tagline, the word leaps out at me and practically tackles me to the ground and force feeds me the faintly tangy pork (ish) patty.

Then, my new coworker, Bob Purvis, writes his blog biography and --lo and behold -- he lists the McRib as one of his interests. So I ask him about it, and it turns out, he has a somewhat complicated relationship with the rib-resembling McHoagie. It’s not that he really craves the sandwich, but friends keep showing up with bags of ‘em to suck down during football games. It’s irony slathered in onions. I get this.

Then, I discussed the McRib with Kramp and Adler on our Thursday morning "Heat Index" segment. Through this riveting banter, I learn that Adler dated the girl whose dad invented the machine that forms the patty into the fake rib shape. (Why oh why are the "ribs" only on one side of the patty?)

Finally, my possessed fingers start Googling the McRib and I learn there is a Cult of McRibbies out there. One fan-wich invented a McRib locater. Another guy went on a McRib tour, and drove from New York City to St. Louis, devouring a pork (ish) patty at every Mickey D’s along the way.

Through my fake rib research, I really got the skinny on this 26-fat-grammed sammy. The McRib was introduced in 1981 as a permanent menu item. In 1985, due to dicey s…

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