VIP- If you haven’t figured out where I go on Wednesday nights…

A dive bar, the local watering hole, the only bar I go to in town, the Best Shittiest Bar in Forest City (stole from the show Shameless), whatever you call it, without a doubt there’s no place like the VIP Lounge. Nestled on Highway 69, this establishment has been serving the wide variety of locals and surrounding population that make up the town of Forest City, IA. Long time regulars, the hard working class working at the motorhome plant a mile down the road, office professionals, local business owners, young, middle aged, old, almost literally everyone.
When you first enter, there’s a feeling not much has changed about this bar since Linda Gannon opened 37 years ago and honestly I think that’s one of the major reasons why all who frequent here love it. For me personally I love how the bar is sunken down so you are at eye level with the bartender which makes it more unique. This has given it more of a personal touch and more of a “at home” and relaxed feel.
Speaking of home, Linda makes the best home cooked meals around! The food is the bomb!!!!! Every night there is a spread out on the table which is at free will donation. I recommend $5.00 minimum or more depending on how much you take. Don’t be stingy, Linda makes delicious meals and works hard on them so donate well!! On Wednesday nights there has been a variety of: pork roast, ham, roast beef, barbeque ribs, meat loaf, home made mac n cheese, fried chicken, etc with potatoes fixed in all variety of ways. Linda’s mashed potatoes and gravy are the best I’ve ever had. Also paired well with veggies and garlic bread. (BTW Thursday is Mexican night, come in on those nights too for another great meal!)
Pictures of spread with my plate of meat loaf:
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Did I mention Linda bakes? Every day as a matter of fact! There is always some type of cookies, bars or pies on the bar to accompany dinner. Her specialty is picture below: home made toffee! Before I tired Linda’s I didn’t think I liked it but hers is like crack in dessert form!
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Obviously when you come to the VIP, you get a VIP drink: A good pour at a good price! It’s hard to stay for just one with good food, atmosphere and a bartender like Linda! (We can’t forget Madonna or Carolyn who also serve you!)
There’s also this nice little space: What would the VIP Lounge be without the feel of a VIP space?
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Every bar needs something that no other bar has; here at the VIP that something is Seizure shots! Even if you don’t like Bloody Marys, like myself, you will love these shots of awesome-ness!!!
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What’s any experience at the VIP complete without the main lady herself, Linda?!? I’ve heard her say many times, “This place is like home to many people”. So true. 90% of all who enter are more like friends and family members to Linda rather than customers. Forest City is such a close knit community where this is possible but it’s also not too small where everyone is in everyone’s business at all times. It sounds simple and stupid but this town is just the right size and the VIP fits right into that niche. Then again what do I know, right? All I know is since I started coming here, there is no other place that can compare. I don’t want to get all mushy and sentimental, we have fun down here and Linda knows how to make everyone have a good time.
I will conclude with a sign she has above the bar: “Everyone brings joy to this bar! Some when they enter and others when they leave!” Well someone has left and I can NOW play some tunes on the jukebox! An 80’s playlist it is….
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Thank you Linda for letting me take a picture of you!

Mexico

Every Iowa winter I’ve had to suffer through, there’s always been multiple assholes posting pictures via social media from a tropical climate. While they’ve enjoyed sunny 80 degree weather, I’ve been stuck in sub zero temps so cold I can cut glass. Finally in summer 2015 I convinced Tyler: “Let’s be one of those assholes”, and we did just that.

On January 24th, 2016 we flew down to Cancun, Mexico for a five night stay at the all inclusive resort, Excellence Playa Mujeres. I booked a flight and hotel package through Expedia.com and also prepaid our round trip shuttle through the Cancun airport. This prevented us from having to bring money or withdraw pesos from an ATM! Going everywhere and not having to pay was more enjoyable then we though. It was nice not having to worry about money because EVERYTHING was paid for. All inclusive really is the ONLY way to go when you are in Mexico or anywhere it’s available.

As soon as Tyler and I stepped out of our car, we were treated like royalty. Before we could get a hand on our luggage, the bellhop handed us a wet towel and were confused by what we were supposed to do with them, obviously it was to cool our faces. Moving along to check in at the front desk, we were brought champagne. So far this WAY surpassed our expectations. The bellhop (Fun fact: They had on khaki colored pants and shirts with hats that made them look like they were going on safari!) then took us to our room but on the way there gave us a mini tour of the resort.
The Lobby we entered in:

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Walking to our room, everything about this place screamed paradise! Just gorgeous! The pools were designed like little lazy rivers with bridges over them and hammocks over the water. Sun chairs and actual beds were everywhere!
The view from our room:
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Our Junior suite didn’t feel so junior to us: king size bed, jacuzzi, full stocked bar and mini fridge (all included with the room at no extra charge!) Balcony patio with bed!
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The inside of our room had the feel of just being open: the suns behind the bed (the back of the vanity mirrors) were not behind glass, you could talk to someone in side of the bathroom from the living area. The shower had a door but also a window to the room so for the whole week we gave each other a show. In case you were wondering, the toilet in the bathroom had it’s own little closet with a door; no one wants to see that.
The balcony patio was our favorite feature:
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After we settled into our room we had a late lunch at The Grill, one of three restaurants opened for lunch. This place is attached to The Lobster House which shares a lunch menu with the Grill, both are also open for dinner and have their own menus for that time.
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Eating a late lunch next to the pool with the ocean in the background was very surreal, nothing we had ever experienced. I think it was then Tyler was sold on the idea of making this a yearly trip. YES! Besides the Grill and Lobster House with a shared lunch menu, other lunch spots include: Las Olas (A snack bar on the beach that does different food everyday. One day we had a Mongolian Grill); The Sun Bar which make personal gourmet pizzas in a stone oven; and Toscana, an Italian Restaurant at night but massive buffet by day (serious they had everything and it was all good! I filled up on sushi!!) Toscana and Lobster House also served breakfast in the morning but we never made it up that early. We usually just grabbed a coffee with a muffin at Aroma, the coffee bar which literally was one of the bars. We could grab an Irish coffee at 9 AM if we so desired! Seriously for lunch though: go to the pool, lay back and enjoy a pizza with endless Coronas being delivered to you! Many times I would just swim up to the bar for mine. What could be better than all of that?

There were 4 or 5 restaurants only open for dinner and we didn’t get to hit them all, sadly. Here’s a mini run through of where we went and didn’t eat at:

Where we ate (loved them all!!)
Sunday night: Toscana (Italian)
Monday night: Spice (Asian)
Tuesday night: Chez Isabelle (French)
Wednesday night: Barcelona (Mediterranean)
Thursday night: Basmati (Indian)

Where we didn’t get to eat:
Agave (Mexican, we heard it wasn’t very good)
Flavor Market (Tapas/ Bistro/ international food)
The Lobster House
The Grill (we did these two for lunch but at night you could get shell fish or a nice big steak instead of their light lunch options of sandwich and salad type of foods)
There is a dress code at dinner to make sure no one wears clothes from the beach into the restaurants. Listed on the website: excellenceresorts.com

When we weren’t eating at five star dining options, our days were spent at pool or by the beach. There are four pools two of which are heated in the winter. The main pool was were everyone spent most of their day because that’s where you found the swim up bar! In the afternoon there was always a band playing above it:
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Even if you didn’t go into the water, wait staff were always going around taking and delivering orders. That was our daily agenda: get up, go to the pool or beach, drink, swim some more, etc. The beach was perfect! The ocean water seemed cold at first but once you got used to it you didn’t want to get out!
We didn’t participate but a wide variety of water activities were available: kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving…
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Every evening there was always some type of show or activities going on: mexican themed, Circus Show (acrobats doing death defying stunts and routines), live Cuban band with dancers, Casino night, traditional dancing, etc.
We would usually end up at CafeKafe, the bar outside in the common area next to the theater where the evening events would take place, or at the Martini Bar in the main building. The whole place is still so beautiful at night even when you are just walking around. On our first night my inebriated self took my husband on a romantic stroll on the beach. I probably enjoyed it more than he did.

We met so many wonderful people: two couples from Canada, three couples from England and a younger couple also from England that we spent quite some time before we had to leave but are now Facebook friends with! 🙂
We just can’t say enough good things about this place!!! Excellence Playa Mujeres is worth every single dollar we spent and more!! Just go here when you spend a vacation in Cancun!!!

If you would like more options on where to stay in Cancun: Here are my all inclusive recommendations based on ratings from Expedia.com:

All inclusive Adults Only:
Excellence Rivera Cancun (in Riviera Maya are south of airport)
Live Aqua
Secrets The Vine
Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf and Spa Resort
Hyatt Zilara
Sun Palace (Couples Only)
Many more in the Riviera Maya area too!
Isla Mujeres (Couples Only located on Isla Mujeres)

All inclusive that allows children:
The Beloved Hotel, Playa Mujeres
Finest Playa Mujeres
Riu Palace Peninsula
Riu Palace Las American
Beach Palace
The Royal Cancun
Hyatt Ziva
(There is more to this list, I would just look at places that have a 90% or higher recommend rate from customers)

Pilot Entry

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When you have a face that makes people think you want to kill them or that you might kill yourself.

 

“Why aren’t you smiling? Is something wrong?” the many forms of that question which I hear over and over again. It has become increasingly difficult to not say something back in a bitchy undertone. People, well let’s be honest here it’s mostly MEN, can be dicks and ask annoying questions like that but when I strike back I become the dick. Not fair.
Yes the life with Resting Bitch Face is not a new thing but finally with the help of Social Media it has now reached mainstream attention. Hopefully over time this will reach the target age group I would like to see so I can drink my vodka alone in peace.
This entry is about living with Resting Bitch Face but in a way it is also about double standards. Women getting questioned about doing the same things men do that don’t get questioned or even looked at. I didn’t intend for this entry to have that mood but you can’t have one without the other.
My face really started to bother me during my time spent working on the line at Winnebago. (Well that’s wrong to say: people started to bother me. It’s not my face’s fault it looks pissed when I have no feeling or expression, I didn’t choose it and I can’t change it. I’ve been told my face is actually quite nice so dumbasses who question it can suck it.) I have to add I am NOT a morning person especially at 5:45 AM when I reported to clock in. So my tired and very groggy self would have to go searching for parts before 7 AM while walking down the gauntlet that was Line 1. I can’t tell you how many times I would hear “SMILE!” A very exhausted, grumpy me just wanted to scream, “CANT I JUST BE TIRED AND HARD WORKING IN PEACE?? OR HUNGRY?? OR IN NEED OF COFFEE??” Many times, actually 90% of the time my RBF can be summed up by hunger. People who know me know that when I’m hungry I feel that shit in my soul!!
Another incident happened with a complete stranger. One night while in Mason City, waiting for my roller derby wife to finish practice so we could car pool back home, I decided to stop for a drink somewhere. The North Iowa Fairground where she practices are just mostly surrounded by retail and chain restaurants so Applebees it was for one and done before picking her up. I sat down and just ordered something fruity and girly that would go fast. Since I was just by myself I had my phone and football on bar TVs to keep me occupied. While zoning out to Monday Night Football not having anything on my mind but that game, I hear from the man next to me: “Oh come on, smile! It can’t be that bad!” I then replied, “It’s not bad I’m just watching the game, is that ok with you?”. Luckily the young bartender interjected and shared my pain of people telling her the same thing. That night I was so happy to not be ALONE! Do men get told to smile when they are zoning out to football? NO!!!!
I know men from that middle age group and above aren’t trying to be sexist but in many ways they are. If women aren’t smiling or pleasant for them to look at then something must be wrong and this behavior isn’t normal. I’ve always been comfortable going to a bar by myself here in town locally or elsewhere. If it’s not in town it’s because I’m trying to kill time/ waiting for someone and it’s more comfortable, not to mention less awkward, to seat one up at the bar instead of at a table. If I am in my hometown I usually know the bartender or people that frequent the establishment like I do. This is something I’m sure men older than me aren’t used to seeing women do. Being by myself, even as a married women, men think that this is an open invitation and a women by herself MUST ALWAYS HAVE COMPANY! I’ve had one man sit down then straight up tell me his name and that he lived here in 1971, blah blah blah. My reaction: “And you think I care, why?”
I don’t sweat the small stuff when these incidents occur but anyone with my face knows this shit gets annoying. I just hope that many more females in my situation can come together and help make Resting Bitch Face be more of a not so un-normal thing, if that’s an expression. Sometimes I will get snippy about it, other times I have fun with it. One thing I know for sure, I am NOT a piece of furniture to older men who find my murder stare bothersome. They can go back to 1959 for all I care.
To end on a good note (which is always a goal of mine), my RBF landed me a small role in a Community Theater Play! I will be playing Officer Pudney in BrickStreet Theater’s production of Rumors by Neil Simon! So there you have it folks, I’m badass looking. This is me getting my feet wet in acting for the stage again after a 10 year sabbatical. I’m so excited but more on that for another time…