Embracing My Inner Cheese


Welcome to Milwaukee!

I just went back to Milwaukee. It’s where I was born and raised. I appreciate it more, each time I visit.

Who wouldn’t love this place? The staple food’s are, cheese, brats, and let’s not forget….beer. It’s the place where the field trips are to the museums, festival’s and breweries.

I didn’t appreciate it so much, until I’ve gotten older, and seen more of the world. I felt I was stifled, in a sense. When I first moved away and started my flying career, I was always met with, “Are you from Wisconsin?” Not so strong an accent anymore. But what touched me more than this, was the response, “Oh, people from Wisconsin are so nice!” I have found that this is true. When I go back, I’m aware of the difference in culture. The people are so approachable, and are more than happy to help others.

Of course, my irritations, in my younger years, has been replaced by a feeling of endearment. I was envious of cities, with current fashions. Since Milwaukee seemed to be about 4 years, behind the curve. The fashion hasn’t changed one bit, since I was a teenager. Which means, you don’t have to spend a lot on clothing. It’s a standard pair of jeans, a flannel shirt, and boots, or sh**kickers) as we used to call them.

I seemed to be an alien, as I would not abide by those dictates. I had my own style and refused to be bound by the opinions of my peers. I still remember a friend, who had given me a pair of his camouflaged pants from the military. I wore these with a red turtleneck to Oktoberfest, in LaCrosse. The streets were littered with beer, paper cups and a mob of college students. The sneers of the girls told me, I was not following the rules. I didn’t care. I loved it, that I seemed an alien from another planet.

I hated it when I would tell people where I was from and they would say, “Oh, you have a lot of cows there, don’t you?” I never saw cows, unless, I went into a town. It’s not as if Milwaukee was a big farm. Yet, this is the impression that most people had.

I worked downtown and it was a city, like any other. I loved the feel of this city. In fact, when I did finally visit my friend, who had moved from Milwaukee to New York, she said, “It’s like a big, downtown.” She was right. New York, felt exactly like our downtown, only bigger. And, as I said, they actually had the latest fashions, displayed in their storefront windows.

But, still, I couldn’t help but laugh, when I walked through the General Mitchell Field Airport, and saw the souvenirs. One t-shirt, “Nothing tips like a cow,” with a cow, lying on its back.  I bought it for my daughter, as she’s in the service industry. She thought this so funny and said, her friends, are going to crack up when they see it.

The truth is; I never saw anyone tip a cow. I didn’t even hear of any friends doing it, until I had a trip down to Ormond Beach, Florida. We were visiting a friend. Her brother was going out with his friends, to tip cows. They asked if we wanted to go, cow tipping. I didn’t believe it at first. I sure was too afraid to do that, and thought it was pretty mean. Now, I’m not a vegan or anything. And I don’t mind eating burgers, but come on. The poor things are asleep and they get knocked over. I secretly hoped that a bull was standing nearby to give them a run for their money.

I seemed to notice new things all around me, which I’d never seen before. I loved the old blue, fire/police call boxes. I had to get a picture. my cousin told me that these are being stolen. “What? Who can steal something this big?”

When I was a kid, we heard that if you pulled one of these, a dye would cover your hand, which could only be detected with a black light. In my neighborhood, they were constantly going off. I can only wonder, what in the world, anyone would do with one of these, in their home. Probably use it for a clothing rack, like I do my treadmill.

I was talking with a guy who used to coach my son’s baseball team, yesterday. He’s a firefighter. “Hey, I said, I have a picture with one of those old call boxes, for the fire department. I showed him, the picture, with the blue box. He then pulled up a picture on his phone. There he was standing with two other guys, next to a red one. “This one is from Boston,” he said. My buddies are also, firefighter’s, and when we go somewhere, and we see them, we pose next to it.” I laughed, that I thought I was the only one who noticed these antiques. Now I’m wondering if he has one in his house as well. Being used as a coat rack or something.

Now one of my favorite things, in Milwaukee, is Leinenkugel. I actually put a bunch in my suitcase once, just to ship back to myself. I can’t find these, where I live. I remembered, having a trip to Germany and going to a beer garden. I had a banana beer, which was pretty good. I went straight from there to Milwaukee, where I visited the state fair. I had marveled at the strong German influence. It seemed I never left Germany. I had a Leinenkugel for the first time, in Milwaukee, and have loved them ever since. They have, berry, lemon, and wheat. I love the flavored ones. As I was sharing this with my friend, he said, “Oh, I have a lifetime supply.” “What?” I was asking how I could become a member. “Oh, I won this.” He said. But you have to go to the Leinenkugel Lodge, to get them.” “Wait a minute. There’s a lodge for Leinekugel Members?” “Yea, he said, it’s in Chippewa Falls.” Geesh! “Only in Wisconsin.

Now I realize, why my daughter made the remark when she was very young. “All people in Wisconsin do in the winter, is stay in the house, smoke and drink beer.” I laughed so hard at that statement, as this was the impression she had, and it wasn’t too far off.

Now, I don’t mean to brag, (Bragging Jackass), but gotta love them Packers! Come on. Undefeated? They continue to shock and awe. No one plays like they do, and the fans are the best.

I went to a real Milwaukee bar, on Saturday night. My cousins friend was celebrating his birthday, and there were a bunch of Harley’s out front. I was amused to see the middle-aged biker’s all over place. But, they knew I was a transplant. They could tell that I’d lost a little cheesie-ness. Some big people live in Wisconsin. I attribute this to all the dairy and beer. As I looked around, the guy had a ton of food and they’re not embarrassed to pig out. I got to watch the Badger’s play, and they got ripped off, at the end of the game. Coming from behind to tie it up, only to have a bad call in the end. Hey, that’s my opinion after watching the replays. The bar went crazy. “This is the life,” I thought. In a bar in Milwaukee, surrounded by biker’s, watching the Badger’s game. The only thing I could have asked for is that they would have gotten that call right. Because we all know, Wisconsin won.

My cousin complains about the girls being to big. But hey, they have to keep warm in the winter. Besides, my cousin, isn’t very small himself. At one point, he pointed out his picture window and said, “Hey, there goes a Milwaukee hot guy!” The guy was huge, with a flannel shirt, jeans and his sh**kicker’s.

The bars, have something for everyone. Dry Hootch, is a place on my list. They are ready to welcome all the soldiers back from war. Brady Street, is where all the action is. And on a trip to Milwaukee, these are my old stomping grounds.

I watched the Occupy Milwaukee march, with pride. The whole movement had its inception with Wisconsin and Ohio. My people, are always ready to fight the powers. I still have that in me. The friendly people of the Midwest, have a true fighting spirit, when you back them into a corner. It’s a toughness, developed by the hard-work ethic, and tempered by the spirit of empathy.

As I share my experiences with my children, I always remind them, that they are not, cheeseheads, in the true sense of the word. But they are, processed cheese. And mixed with my stepchildren, we are now more of a blended cheese. They have the cheese inside, and it’s not something you can ignore.

I have finally arrived at a place in my life, where I am proud to be part of The Cheesehead Nation. I understand why my mom, keeps saying, “I want to go back to Wisconsin.” Dorothy was right, “There’s No Place Like Home!”

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Back to Work Program, Hire A Mascot!


Ok, come on, Miami?! Seriously? The new Marlin Baseball stadium, seems to have all the bells and whistles, but what Oh my gaudy! What in the world is going on with this new ‘art’ in the middle?  Is this to attract people? Already, people are weighing in, with negative comments. This is ridiculous. It is a huge, display of neon, in an attempt to dazzle. Some have compared it to pinball machines, Vegas, etc. You get the picture.The only thing that was missing, was the neon pink flamingo’s. I suppose, to have gotten the opinions of the public, potential fans, would have been out of the question?

Not buying it. And evidently, neither is anyone else. It was designed to be a nice attraction. But, for the price of 2.5 million? Why couldn’t we put a dent in the deficit? Better yet, why not poll the public for ideas first? Oh no. That sounds like an argument I have about my union, at work. Heaven forbid, you really have to listen, to ideas from people whose interests you should represent. That would negate all those nice bucks your shoving into your own pockets.

Oh, I didn’t just diss my union, did I? Well, let’s move on. We have OWS, to handle this. And by the time we’re through, we just may have some better ideas, including the implementation for stadiums, which would cut down on the spending considerably. And I have no doubt, offer a lot more fun.

Now, I don’t want to brag,(Bragging Jackass), but, how about looking at ‘all things Wisconsin, for your marketing strategies? No, we are just common folks, but let’s compare. Milwaukee Brewers. Hmmm, when there’s a home run, Bernie the Brewer, slides down a slide. We all get to watch on the screen, and some of us, can see him. If you’re close enough. Oh, that doesn’t sound cool? I guarantee, after a couple of beers, and getting all hyped up for your team, it’s astounding!

Now, you absolutely, have not lived, until you’ve seen, the sausage race. That’s right, people. It is a highlight. I actually got to go down to the field, the day of the race, with my brother and my son. They loved it. Talk about, audience engagement.

There is a story, I still recall, about one of the Brewer’s taking a swipe at a sausage, as they came around the bend. Come to find out, it was a young girl inside, the costume, and the Brewer, was in some boiling hot, sausage brew, after the game.

Ah, those poor, mascots. It always made me think, that they should, indeed, have a union, to protect them. Kind of the bun, if you will, to keep them cushioned from the blows.

And let’s not mention those Packers! We are the only culture, who are not afraid to don the cheesehead! Now, it only seems to make sense, that these teams, and the people, should be followed. If it’s been working for us, for all these years, jump on the bandwagon.

And let’s not forget, all the people that we can use, by the use of these mascots, and not an inanimate object, cluttering up the field. I think we should have a marlin, manatee, shark, race. There, that’s three people, with a job offer, already. And I’m betting this could be a highly prestigious position. Replace, all the celebrities, of this world, with mascots. Perhaps they could name them, such as they did, Bernie. I’m thinking, Merlin the Marlin. I know, I know, we already have a Billy. But Merlin, has a nice ring to it.

 When you are in your social circles, and people ask, “Hey what do you do?” And you respond, “Well, I’m Merlin the Marlin! It would be instant recognition. Like, Cher. No explanation needed. Asking for autograph’s and pictures. All the marketing. Just think about it. Believe me, these people will remember you long after, Kim Kardashian!

I’m not into anything fancy. Just a good time. And isn’t that all that we want, when we come to a game? What do you think?

 

Dirty Glove’s


Flygurl!

Well, tonight, the long-awaited premier of Pan Am, is on.  I’m a little curious to watch. I have so many Pan Am colleagues, as friends. I am formerly Eastern Airlines. And my saying goes, “In the airline industry, we’re all recycled.”

I believe that I came into my flying career, right at the tail end, (pun intended) of the glamour. I trained with Eastern Airlines, in 1984. We stayed at a little hotel right on NW 36th Street, in Miami Springs. It was right across from the airport. And Pan Am’s training facilities, were literally side-by side, with our own. We used to see them and felt equal in our stature as an airline. Although, to be honest, I was from the Midwest, so United Airlines, was the premier airline, in my part of the country. I had really not heard much about Eastern, at the time, I accepted their offer. But the thought of training in Miami, was the best thing going. To escape the winter blast. I flew down, in the middle of March.

I never intended to move back. I loved the hot weather, and would gladly exchange it for the bitter cold. I missed my friends and family, but they couldn’t even compete with Miami.

I read a few articles about the show. It is a career, which, I believe, may have been planted in my subconscious. I remember someone giving me a copy of, Coffee, Tea, or Me, when I was in middle school. And I read, The Flygirl’s, right after this.

Coffee, Tea Or Me

Of course, these books, were pretty racy, even at this particular time. But hey, it was the 60’s. Besides, I’m thinking they embellished a little, for the readers. At any rate, I can’t really say, that I had a burning desire to become a flight attendant, Or Stewardess. As many claimed, when they spoke at the orientation. I think I just naturally gravitated to this position. I hated office work, and realized early on, that I was happiest with people. And the daily routine of any corporate structure, is what I loathed. The micro-managing, and petty gossip. It all made me weary to think I would spend my days, in such a manner.

I was actually in a bar, with a friend, after work one day. I was in my early 20’s and I was getting bored with retail. A guy that we knew, came in and he was just back from collecting information from Northwest Airlines. He was going to fill out the applications. “He said to me, “You should do this! I think you’d love it.” “I’m not sure,” I said. “Besides, I’d have to move away and I don’t know if I’m ready for that.” This was a reason for my not wanting to work in Lake Geneva, Playboy Club, among other reasons. Come to think of it, that’s another show which previewed, to a not so popular audience. Thankfully, I avoided the stigma. Even though to some, it may have been a privilege.

Well, a few years later, I was sitting at my typewriter, in my office, and I typed up all my resumes to the different airlines.

I heard from Eastern Airlines first. And like a Wisconsin snowstorm, the other airlines, followed. But I had already started training with Eastern, and was quite happy with the fact that I would be based in Miami. Who would have thought that years later, I’d be with my favorite airline.

This is all a big gamble in the airline industry. But it is the flexibility of the job, which attracts most. It had been the glamour as well. But that faded at the first meal service. As I saw a male flight attendant, just throwing dirty trays, into a cart. While he was on his knee’s, sweating. We were flying the Atlanta/Miami, route. He asked me, “Is this the glamour, you were looking for?” I still remember this, as if it was yesterday.

Yes, I had a great time, in the training. We were at the Viscount Hotel. And it was very reminiscent of the stories, I’d read. Especially when we had the training in the swimming pool. I would go running around the park, right by our hotel. And we would all hang out together. We were a tight-knit, group.

We were all sent to Bal Harbor, for a makeup and hair session, with a woman named, Miss Ginny. She was a representative for Elizabeth Arden. I always wore makeup, so I wasn’t intimidated. However, we were all issued, standard, bright red, lipstick. And some had their hair chopped off. I saw a lot of girls crying, as if they’d been traumatized. Nevertheless, we all were expected to have the red lips and nails.

At graduation, Colonel Frank Borman, pinned on our wings. It was very special to all of us. Having a former astronaut, doing the honors. He stood with his sidekick, Ms. Winnie Gilbert. No one really understood her position.

I remembered, years, later, when my ex-husband, had a carpet job for the ivory tower. He called to tell me that there was a safe in Frank Borman’s bathroom. I replied, “Well, that’s where he hides all the money, he’s stealing from us.” I used to say it about Bart Star, and I used the comparison with Frank Borman. “Bart Star was a great quarterback, for the Green Bay Packer’s, but he sucked as a coach, of the team. Just shows you, that you may be very successful at playing the game, but not, steering the ship.” Ahh, some things never change.

Yes, we had the experience of dealing with Frank Lorenzo, and allof his,  low-blow tactics. We were not the airline we used to be. Corporate greed, replaced, the need for glamour. It became the bottom line. and that was us. We did indeed, become, flight attendants, and not, inflight stewards and stewardesses. The mantra, was , “you can be replaced.” This coveted position, is no longer so coveted. And the people in marketing haven’t yet figured this out. The traveling public, still, longs to see an element of aesthetics, in our industry. Especially the business travelers. But this comes at a price, which has been compromised by the desire for profits.  The attendants, were expected to live in poverty, while taking care of the needs, of the public. We were supposed to “sell the dream, while living the nightmare.” Frank Lorenzo’s remarks, were constantly repeated, “That flight attendant’s were not important. And their career’s should only span a few years.” He went on to say that they should only own a record-player (?) and a car.” And a very cheap car, at that. He revealed his own ignorance and disrespect of the job we do. I have worked with many professionals, and highly intelligent people. They have even left lucrative careers, to become a flight attendant.

Then 9/11, happened. It was painfully obvious that, we were expendable. And although, we had sympathy for our position and responsibilities. It didn’t last long.The fun and excitement of our career. The glamour. But it’s also a stark reminder, that flight departed, long ago.

Although, the show was fun to watch. It is a reminder of how far we’ve fallen, at the hands of terrible management. I like the quirky, story-line, which incorporates, a stewardess, operating as an access agent. I wonder how they came up with this. Although to some, it may seem a little cheesy, in my own life, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched. I’m not sure Frank Lorenzo, would approve. He never thought, any of us had the intelligence, to investigate anything. Especially his own, corrupt practices. This was almost his ‘undoing,’ for underestimating his work force.

Smart senior management, in the airline industry today, should realize, as far as ‘The Brand, is concerned; We ARE the Brand. It’s not the coffee, or the tea. It’s me!

So, the final analysis, is this movie, may leave people longing for those days. The glitz, the class. The fun. But there’s a price. And we’ve paid it. The profits, went into the pocket’s of a select few. But what has been lost is immeasurable. I wonder if they would like to interview, those who had lives invested in their career’s to see them crumble. The tragic events, surrounding people, who had been loyal to this iconic, company. After, closer inspection;  those pretty ‘white glove’s,’ reveal the dirt, which was left in the aftermath, of Pan Am’s demise.

Help! I’m talking and I Can’t Shut Up!


Yesterday, I took my son and my brother to watch the Miami Dolphins train, at their training facility.My brother absolutely loves, football, although, to him, the Green Bay Packers, are the only one that really count.My brother, reminds all of us of, Dustin Hoffman’s character, Rain Man. Though, he is not autistic, he is mentally challenged, and when he’s stuck on something, it doesn’t change.

So it was extremely, surprising when, even he, despised, Brett Favre, when he left the Packers. Yes, his idol, Brett, became the enemy. After all, he was playing for the Vikings, in the end, and everyone knows, that you don’t go against the Packers! I wondered, “What in the world would he do, if Brett Favre, ends up as a Quarterback, for the Dolphins?” As I heard this rumor.

It has been years, and I still try to convince my brother, to be a fan of the Florida teams. And he loves to watch sports, no matter, who’s playing, but if they’re up against any Wisconsin team, it’s an automatic; Florida’s going down.Each year, he tells us “the Packers are going to the Superbowl.” And most of the time, he’s right. Although, on the rare occasion, that they’re not in it, he switches teams, back and forth, with whichever one is winning.To him, the opposite team is always called, “The Eagles.” No offense guys, but my brother, somehow has learned that your name is synonymous with, Losers. Don’t blame me, I even sent him on a trip to Philadelphia, to watch a game, and he is still, not going to let you off the hook. He was must have been conditioned, by a mob of Packer loving, Eagle haters. So someone else is to blame.

He has no shame in his game,and everyone laughs, as he goes right up to the TV screen, and does his animated, thumbs down! I enjoy watching, him, way more than the game. I know how much he loves being a part of something, which involves, a team.

So, I thought, “hey, these two are going to love watching the Dolphins train. When they see the camera’s on the news, and all the die-hard fans, who come to watch them, they’ll be inspired.

The training camp is right near me, so it’s really a fun thing to do. The last time we were here, was a few years ago, and it was pouring down rain. So we had to leave. I still managed to get some good pictures of my son and brother, with some of the players. But that’s about all we did.

Today, it was 89 degrees, and of course, all of us forgot the sunscreen. I usually have it in my car, but had just cleaned out my car. So this is not good. I decided to bring my little, pink umbrella to shield us from the sun.Of course, I knew, I would have to put it down, when they began to play.Well, as the sweat was already dripping down my back into my shorts, I said to my son, “I look like a wet my pants already!” I’m thinking, I’m already soaked, and they are only in practice.

A woman came over to tell me I would need to close the umbrella, until I told her I had intended to keep it open, only until the game began. She agreed, that this would be fine. She probably saw, that my brother’s bald head, unprotected, would be like a red beacon, which would be far more distracting than my pink umbrella. My face and that of my son, so fair, probably gave her compassion. “Oh, that’s fine, as long as you close it when they are ready to play.” Oh, those small kindnesses. I reprimanded my brother, once more, about his failure to remember his hat. And this would have been a perfect time to wear, his autographed, Packers cap. He almost gave it away at my last yard sale, and I was incredulous. “How could you put this in the pile?” I asked him. Here I find myself, being a total contradiction. I try to teach him to let go of things, and now I’m questioning why he would give that up? The autographs are very difficult to read anyway, but all I could surmise, is that Brett Favre’s, name is on it somewhere.

My son was asking for a ‘lemonade ice,’ before we even sat down. And at $4 a pop, this was going to be their first and their last one. I told him to “make it last.But I’m feeling sorry, that we are sitting here, because it is hotter than I imagined, and already, I’m thinking, there’s no way, we are staying for the whole game.

As the game is about to start, I close my umbrella. All of a sudden, I feel the presence of someone behind me, and I feel him bend forward. Right in between my son and me. Already so hot, I can feel his breath as he speaks, “Hey, is that Reggie Bush?” He asks me. “I really don’t know.” I tell him. Truth be told, the only one I know, is Jason Taylor.Every woman’s crush.

I have the team roster, but it’s really not accurate. As this guy, starts to talk, I realize one thing. “He is about to start a ramble session, like I’ve never heard in my whole life.He begins to tell us that he has been in the presence of such great people. Not just the Dolphins,but many Hollywood stars. He’s been in the movie, with Tom Cruise. On and on he goes. Everything he speaks, seems disjointed. In my mind, I’m trying to analyze, how he connected from one subject to another. Though it didn’t take long to see, he had a strong desire, to prove, he was important, by association. On and on he rambled. As my son stated, later, “There wasn’t even a period, in his sentence!” I was impressed, that my son had even noticed, this ‘run-on sentence,’ as grammatical error.

I have listened, as I’m trying to watch the players.”Oh, they’re just like real people,” he says. Which makes me laugh. I thought they were real people. But no matter, this guy does not need any encouragement from me.He continues, that he had encounter’s with one of the players, at a restaraunt, when he was dining with his family. “His wife was pregnant,” he said, and she was like this.” He makes a gesture,to show the girth of her stomach. As if I didn’t know what pregnant, really meant. All I could imagine, is this poor guy, with his family, having to be accosted, by Greg’s mouth. I wonder if the guy had a chance to eat.

He literally does not take a breath, and then he tells me that, his mother is an actress, and she’s always given him, one word, of advice. (Hmm, this ought to be good), She tells me, “Greg, if I give you any advice, it’s this,” LISTEN!” She says. Oh, my gosh! It’s obvious that he has not!  Poor mom, must be going insane, and I can only imagine, that Word, came in a shout!

Then he continues, “You have to know when to talk, and when to be quiet.” Is this a joke? I’m thinking. Am I on one of those shows, “What Would You Do?” Cause in my mind, I’m saying, “Shut Up!” But, I actually feel sorry for him. I’m starting to think, he’s mentally challenged, like my brother. Surely, no one can have a problem like this, unless they have something wrong. Or perhaps he’s on drugs. But no, he has a history. As he tells me about living with his mom and the way she speaks to him, I’ve gathered, with my investigative skills, that he is much closer to the Rain Man, character, than my brother is.

Then he continues talking about the movie he was just in, with Tom Cruise. Then the most amazing thing; He starts imitating, Rain Man. My son, finally turns around and starts cracking up. He starts to engage him, with the banter, since they both know all the parts of this movie. And they speak in unison, “Of course, Judge Wopner, at one clock!” I’m laughing at this. My brother loves the movie as well. I always wonder, if he is able to perceive himself, as this person. At any rate, Greg, should really think of auditioning for this part in community theater. He’d certainly be a natural!

I finally realized that I’m clearly not going to see any of this game, and we’re on so uncomfortably hot, it isn’t worth it. I declare, “It’s time to go.” My son’s relief was  clearly evident, and he almost seem to convey, “What took so long?” We stood up, and I say to Greg, who claims to know everyone, “Put in the good word for me, with Jason Taylor.” “Oh!” He says, “I will, but how do I get in touch with you?” Oh no you don’t, I’m thinking, even, if any of this was true, and at the risk, of losing, my connection to JayTay, I’m not giving up any of that info!

After returning to the car, my son, who usually is the one talking, said, finally, “What was wrong with that guy?  I couldn’t watch anything, cause jabber-jaws, was in my ear the whole time!” I know, I admitted, I think he’s mentally challenged.” “No, he’s not.” My son was not convinced, as he was comparing him to my brother. But I had to point out, not everyone has the same, mental disorder.

“I think it was because he was hitting on you!” He said, making it clear, that it was my fault, as usual. I just hope, my son got a clear picture, of this. And he learned a very important lesson; when your mother gives you advice, “Take It!”