One of the coolest things about working at a liquor store is that in order to better sell our products, we sometimes have to taste them—I know so horrible right? But really, tasting and learning about new products is so interesting to me and I’m really enjoying it. However, it does sort of make me a little nervous. In all honesty I don’t have the most refined palate. I’m trying, but you can tell me a wine has hints of cherry or notes of oak or whatever all you like I still just taste wine. I mean I can tell the difference between two different wines side by side but my descriptors for them really only go as far as I like it or I don’t or I’d drink it if someone offered me some but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. I’m good at that; at knowing what I like and what I don’t…unfortunately my face is also very good at it. I have no poker face whatsoever when I taste something I don’t like. I like to think that with my job being what it is that I’m getting better at controlling it but I still find myself nervous whenever I go to taste something new, worried that if I don’t like it I’ll make a horrible—and horribly rude—face at the vendor that’s running the tasting. So, when my managers invited me to join them for a high-end tequila tasting with a vendor the other day I wanted to turn and run in the other direction.

Look, I’ll usually try almost anything once, even if I know I won’t like it. For instance whiskey and bourbon; I have yet to taste any that I like so I know if you put one in front of me I’ll probably hate it but I’ll still try it. But tequila? Tequila is another animal entirely. The first time I ever had tequila was at my college roommate’s 21st birthday party. She had a bartender friend making cocktails that night. My first drink of the night was a vodka mixed drink of some sort. My second drink was a tequila sunrise. Two sips into the tequila sunrise and not even feeling the effects of the first drink yet, I suddenly found myself shoving the drink into one of my friend’s hands and running to the bathroom to throw up. It could have been any number of things, I know that, it could have been bad orange juice, it could have been something I ate earlier, or even the vodka drink I had before, but ever since that night just the smell of tequila makes my stomach turn. So yeah, being asked to join a tequila tasting was, frankly, terrifying. But then, as the very kind vendor running the tasting pointed out when I warned her that I was not a tequila drinker, there is a difference between the most likely very cheap tequila I had at that party and the high-end and high-quality stuff she was representing.

Don’t get me wrong I will never like it, but that tasting completely changed the way I look at tequila. I didn’t like it, but neither did I feel the urge to throw up or even spit it out. Since then I’ve been able to join in on another tasting for a much less high-end tequila—but still probably leagues better than whatever was in that tequila sunrise—without fear and while I liked that tequila even less than the first one I feel like I’ve gotten to a place where I can approach tequila the same way I approach whiskey—will I like it? Probably not. Can I still learn from it and appreciate it for what it is? Hopefully.

Update 2020

Hey all, it’s been a long time! I’ve been busy working full time at a local liquor store—in fact I just hit my one year mark there a couple of weeks ago, which now that I think about it tells me just how long its been since I’ve posted here…oops. It isn’t something I ever imagined myself doing but I’m enjoying it; I’m learning a lot and I love the people I work with. Really, I’m considering myself blessed right now, liquor stores are considered essential in Tennessee and I’m lucky enough to have a secure job in this crazy and precarious time. Hopefully you’re all staying safe and doing well too.

2020 hasn’t been very kind outside of work. Back in January I had to say goodbye to my eighteen-year-old cat Shadow. Shadow was my first cat and he’s been part of my family for most of my life. He was a grouchy old man and up until a year or so ago we were never as close as I would’ve liked—I was an annoying kid to him when we met and I think it took him (and me) a while to outgrow that image of me. But he was a good, gentle boy who loved face and belly scratches and his family—even me in his own way. He especially loved his brother Rascal and I know Rascal misses him every day. Rascal, my best friend in the entire world, isn’t doing very well since his brother died. He’s always had health issues; including being born with only one functioning kidney, and after his big scare a year and a half ago his health has been nothing but ups and downs. More downs lately than ups. I’m not sure how much time I have left with him before he goes to be with Shadow but I’m doing my best to make the most of what we’re given.

I guess that’s all any of us can do. Stay safe y’all.

Game Night

Last night I went to a board game night up in Nashville. This monthly gathering of game enthusiasts is something I’ve been enjoying for a while now. I’ve always loved board games but I’ve never really had anyone to play with so it’s a hobby that I’ve never had a chance to explore until now. Going to these public game nights has been amazing and it’s given me a chance to discover a ton of new games and meet new people. Last month, for instance, I learned how to play a game called Small World—a fun and lighthearted game of world conquest with fantasy races like ghouls and orcs and amazons—and subsequently got invited to play another new game called Bang! with a small group of people the following night.

Bang! was super fun, it’s a spaghetti western shoot out card game where one person is the sheriff, one person is the deputy, one person is a renegade and everyone else are outlaws. The sheriff and the deputy want to kill all the outlaws, the outlaws want to kill the sheriff, and the renegade wants to outlive everyone. The catch? With the exception of the sheriff, everyone’s identities are kept secret. I played the sheriff and I did pretty well—even after my deputy died and it was me against two outlaws and the renegade—I had a lot of cards helping me avoid damage from the outlaws…but there wasn’t much I could do about the stick of dynamite that blew up in my face, winning the game for the outlaws.

One of my favorite games right now is a game called Villainous where you play as a Disney villain trying to successfully complete your evil scheme before the other players—even if you have to sabotage them in order to win. Villainous comes with six different villains you can play as—Maleficent, Captain Hook, Prince John, the Queen of Hearts, Ursula, and Jafar—each with their own objective and unique gameplay, and the Wicked to the Core expansion adds Dr. Facilier, the Evil Queen, and Hades to the mix as well. I’ve had the opportunity to play as Maleficent, Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts and Dr. Facilier so far and while Maleficent’s gameplay is a little too simplistic for my tastes, I had a blast trying to defeat Peter Pan on the Jolly Roger as Captain Hook and playing a game of wonderland croquet as the Queen of Hearts. I’m not sure what I think about Dr. Facilier’s gameplay. I played him for the first time last night and he definitely has the most unique gameplay of the lot, which makes him fun to play, but he also seemed to be very easily sabotaged by his fate deck. I got close to winning twice only for another player to play a card from my fate deck that derailed my ability to win by several rounds. Yes that’s the entire point of the fate deck but then Ursula’s fate deck seemed to be completely incapable of stopping her from winning once she’s set to win on her next turn (Ursula can only win at the start of her turn). That being said my friend played as Prince John last night and immediately had three fate cards played against him that seemed to make it impossible for him to win right off the bat so maybe the problem is with Ursula’s deck not Facilier’s.

I could spend pages and pages talking about all the fun games I’ve been playing, but suffice to say, game night has quickly become the highlight of my month and I’m already counting the days till the next one. Do you guys play any board games? If so, what are some of your favorites? I’m always eager to discover new games and would love some suggestions!

Zoo Day

(Photo credit to my dad @kenhammond on Instagram)


It probably comes as no shock to you at this point that I am a major animal lover. Fuzzy, feathered, or scaly it doesn’t matter, I adore them all–to the point where for most of my childhood I wanted to be a vet or a dolphin trainer or a zookeeper–so the Nashville Zoo is something I’ve been wanting to do since we moved here in July but I haven’t had the chance until now. The past couple weeks my grandparents have been visiting from California which means we’ve been taking them on the usual Nashville tourist haunts: Civil War sites, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Parthenon and, my favorite, the Nashville Zoo. Of course, being from SoCal, I’ve grown up with some pretty amazing zoos such as the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and LA Zoo, and while the Nashville Zoo was nowhere near as big as those and didn’t have nearly as many different animals–big cats are my favorites so I was a little disappointed that all the Nashville Zoo had were clouded leopards that I didn’t get to see because they weren’t out when I was there, and a couple cougars–it was still a really neat little zoo. My favorite animal that they had there (that I actually got to see anyway) were the red pandas. They were so fluffy and adorable and I’ve never wanted to sneak into an exhibit and steal an animal (or at least play with them till security dragged me away kicking and screaming) more in my life…I resisted the urge, obviously, pretty sure you’d have seen me on the news if I hadn’t. Still, they were beyond cute. My favorite experience, however, was definitely the kangaroo exhibit. Any exhibit where I get to touch a fuzzy animal is going to be an instant favorite for me so the kangaroo exhibit at the Nashville Zoo where you’re allowed to touch the roo’s (so long as they’re within reach of the path you have to stay on) won me over pretty quick. I mean I can now say I’ve pet a kangaroo–which was so much softer than I expected btw–how cool is that! Now if I can just find a zoo that’ll let me pet a red panda…

Reptiles, Coatis, and Hedgehogs Oh My!

So last weekend my parents and I went to the Nashville Exotic Pet Expo because we wanted to look at hedgehogs. I’ve been to Pet Expos back when we lived in California but I’d never been to an exotic pet show before and it was so cool! There were so many different and amazing animals,  some of them I got to touch and others I just got to look at, some were for sale and others were just being shown off by their proud pet parents. I tried to take a lot of pictures but I couldn’t get pictures of everything. There were a bunch of snakes and a ton of lizards including iguanas and chameleons and some amphibians like frogs and axolotls. On the more fuzzy and cuddly side of things there were the expected animals like bunnies and hedgehogs and sugar gliders but also some crazy things like a baby fennec fox, monkeys, baby ring-tailed lemurs, and cutest of all a baby coatimundi–a South American cousin of the raccoon that I’m glad wasn’t for sale because I’m pretty sure all three of us would’ve had a really hard time not buying it. We went in search of hedgehogs because I’ve wanted one for a while now–and I even got to hold a baby hedgehog it was so tiny and shy!–but as an animal lover the entire show was just a really cool experience and I wanted to take home pretty much every animal I saw. Although I went in thinking I wanted a hedgehog, my favorite animals at the show–other than the coati–actually ended up being the sugar gliders. They were so cute and soft and the ones at this one booth just wanted to climb all over their people and sleep in their shirts and pockets and while I definitely need to do some serious research first, the people at the booth made them seem like great, loving pets. I wonder what the cats would think.

Trivia Night

Last night I went out with a friend of mine to an Avengers Trivia Night at a local soda and ice cream shop here in Nashville called the Soda Parlor. I’ve never done anything like this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I figured hey, I’ve seen all the Marvel movies, I know a lot about the Avengers, I’m sure I can ace this. So my friend and I checked ourselves in under the team name Captain Charizard and ordered our drinks–I got a root beer float and he got a cookies and cream milkshake–before taking our seats and waiting for the event to begin.

The trivia game consisted of three rounds of ten questions each, with the host reading the questions aloud and the teams of three–or two in our case–wrote their answers on the their team card. The cards were collected and the correct answers were revealed at the end of each round. Team Captain Charizard got a whopping twelve out of thirty (six in the first round and three in each subsequent round). There were a lot of really hard questions about small obscure details in the movies. Do you know what percentage Iron Man’s suit got super-charged to upon being struck with Thor’s lightning during their fight in the first Avengers movie? Or what band was on the shirt Tony was wearing in the infamous “We’ve got a Hulk” scene? There were some easy ones as well like finishing the quote: “Because if we can’t protect the earth you can be damn well sure we’ll ____.” One question I can’t believe I got wrong was what does S.H.I.E.L.D stand for. I got the consonants right (Strategic Homeland ___  ____ Logistics Division) but blanked on the “I” and the “E.”  The question I was really proud that I got right was what is Hawkeye’s wife’s name, especially since I just went with my instinctual response and wasn’t even remotely sure I was right. Overall, the questions were a lot harder than I expected but I feel like it was still a pretty good mix of easy, medium, and hard questions.

At the end of the game, the winning team went home with a box of Marvel merch and some gift cards after they got twenty-five out of thirty questions right…more than twice our score but that’s alright I had a ton of fun playing anyway and would totally love to do something like this again.




Black Sabbath

Avenge it

Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division