4 Score & 7 Years Ago, Andrew Jackson was President…… WAIT! What?

QUICK!  Answer this question.  Who was Andrew Jackson?

One week prior to President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, the White House Tweeted an invitation for followers to apply for a chance to participate in a Tweetup during the State of the Union on White House grounds.  After the Tweetup, invited guests would have the opportunity to ask Obama’s senior administration questions.  I applied.  Amazingly enough, I was accepted along with about 50 other people from 22 different states ranging in age from 18 to 62.   For those not in the know, a Tweetup involves the social media platform, Twitter.  People gather together and Tweet about an event.

The experience was amazing, BUT……….my trip was chock full of a comedy of errors worthy of a Shakespearean play.  I started referring to my screw-ups as Krisncidents.  Said Krisncidents included things like telling a cab driver to take me to North Street when my destination was “N” as in “Nancy Street.”   There were many Krisncidents.  However, none of the them were as poignant as the one committed during an interaction with a young Sudanese man named Mustafa.

I had some free time while I was in DC, so on the first day the friend I was staying with asked me what I wanted to do.  My response was emphatically, “I WANT TO SEE A PROTEST.”  She immediately said, “I can take you to Occupy DC and we can walk around the White House.”  My heart lit up.  Before we went to the Occupy DC camp, we stopped by the White House.

I met Mustafa in front of the White House in Lafayette Park.  There is a giant statue of Andrew Jackson in the park (behind me in this picture).  Mustafa walked up to me and said in VERY broken English, “Excuse me, who was Andrew Jackson.”  I went brain dead. With the confidence of 20 Obamas I blurted out, “Andrew Jackson was the 16th president of the United States.”  I went on to tell him things that were so egregiously wrong that I won’t admit to what I said in this blog.  Admitting to the 16th president part is bad enough.

Mustafa smiled at me as if I was the smartest person to breathe American air.  Oh Mustafa……….   LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THE POSTER CHILD FOR DUMBASS DISEASE OF AMERICA!

Many of you are saying, “Kris, don’t be so hard on yourself.”  Let me remind you that on Memorial Day I will preside over the dedication of a very pricey Andrew Jackson memorial, I live 5 miles from Andy’s residence, and my address is Old FREAKING Hickory.  I am ashamed.  Needless to say, I’m now reading a book about the SEVENTH president of the United States.   So far?  I’m in love with the guy (note: I vehemently disagree with his treatment of Indians).   Regardless, Andrew’s early life was more difficult than most of us could ever comprehend.

When it was time to enter the White House grounds for the Tweetup, I was detained by security (ahemmm Krisncident).  Immediately, I thought, “Oh shit, I failed the Andrew Jackson test.”  I was the only Tweeter detained.  Turns out, I had applied for the Tweetup as “Kris.”  My real name is “Kristina” and all of my ID says that.  OOOPS.  After a recheck, they let me into the event.

Here are a few more pictures from my DC trip.

I MADE IT!!!!  OCCUPY DC   eeeek.  Whether you agree or disagree with the Occupy movement, and as ugly as Occupy camps can be, the freedom to assemble is beautiful!

Going into the White House Compound.  This is the  Dwight D. Eisenhower building.  We passed very close to the situation room to get to the Tweetup.

This was the post-State of the Union Tweetup panel. You are looking at:

  • Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
  • Mark Zuckerman, White House Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council
  • Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy
  • Brian Deese, Deputy Director National Economic Council
  • Ben Rhodes, Deputy NSA for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
  • Jen Palmieri, Deputy White House Communications Director
The White House Tweetup experience was TRULY  humbling.  After experiencing the joy of having a can of Andrew Jackson whoop ass opened on me,  I did not ask any questions……..which was okay.  Turns out the room was full of people with far more pressing questions than my own.

I cannot express how grateful I am to live in the United States.  Political brouhaha often clouds my vision, but in the end it’s still a wonderful place to be.

If you’d like to attend the dedication of the Andrew Jackson memorial on Memorial Day in Old Hickory, Tennessee, please visit www.ohvmp.org for more information


Andrew Jackson Memorial, Old Hickory, Tennessee (and yes, we have White House permission to use the presidential seal!)





The Chili Cook-Offcapades (feat: a Crap-Ton of Wendy’s Chili)

When the powers that be announced that there would be a chili cook-off at my place of employment, my crew suggested I enter the competition using a recipe from my Great Grandmother’s journal.  I went home and perused the journal in hopes of finding a winning recipe.  Here is the recipe I found.

Umm……. no.  The suet and the “mustard wet-up with vinegar” were the deal breakers.  When I reported my disappointing discovery to the crew, the conversation quickly turned to potential alternatives. At some point in the conversation, I saw a light bulb go off in Cliff the Mechanic’s  eyes.  He pulled me aside and said, “Go buy a bunch of Wendy’s chili, put it in your crock pot, and enter it in the competition.  I’ll pay for it.”    I am not a card-carrying member of the Status Quo Club, so I immediately fell in love with his plan.  I spent the rest of the afternoon rehearsing how to walk in to Wendy’s and ask for a crap-ton of chili. I knew it would be extremely important that I get my words and behavior right. I’m pretty sure Wendy’s has a silent alarm they can push to alert the psych ward at Vanderbilt Medical Center to come collect bat-shit crazy woman asking for a crap-ton of chili………………also known as a chili hoarder.

Turns out, my Wendy’s adventure was enjoyable and uneventful.  The request for ten large chilies caused nothing but employee laughter. I did, however, make their top five list of strangest orders.   The manager asked me if I was going to bathe in the chili. Hmmmm. If you’re wondering, a crap-ton of chili costs $25.02.

Filled with immeasurable glee that I didn’t get absconded by men in white coats,  I returned to my car with the crap-ton of chili.  I prayed the entire way home, “Please God, don’t let me wreck.”  Can you imagine?  The crap-ton of chili would be everywhere.  I can hear the investigating policeman now, “Woah! That’s a crap-ton of guts splattered on the window shield!!!   Oh wait, it’s just chili.”

I’m not going to lie. I was racked with concern the crap-ton of chili would look like a small chili puddle in my giant crock pot.  I had no idea how much to buy.  My worries were unfounded.  It only took 9 containers to fill that baby up to the brim.

SUCCESS! Look at this chili I stayed up all night making!Chili-cook off here we come!

When I walked into the chili cook-off arena, I felt guilty.  There were 15 entries and each one looked like it had 5 cups of effort thrown in to its mixture.   One of my coworkers had been babying his chili all night.  What if the Wendy’s chili won?

Let the judging begin.

Chili judging tools: every chili cook-off judge needs water, chili sample, spoons, and a ballot.

In the end, my boss’s chili won!  His chili looked like it was 99% meat and 1% additional other stuff.  Rumor is that there were only two beans in the entire mixture.

All hail the King of Chili (and my boss) – Peter!

Guess where the Wendy’s chili ranked?  LAST PLACE!   Sorry Wendy’s!  I tried to get you some positive press!  Despite it all, the 9 large containers were scarfed down by hungry coworkers.  There is also this………….

Earlier in the day, the following Twitter exchange took place.

When it comes to chili, don’t mess with Texas!

The fact that my coworkers put the fast-food chili in last place means we Tennesseans stand a chance of hanging with the Texans in the chili department…………..and I didn’t get sentenced to a boiling chili death chamber!  SCORE!

I had a blast today.  Last place never felt so good.  Thanks work-place management!  :-)