I will never forget that limo ride.
I was in fourth grade. We’d all just taken our FCATs (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) and were so excited to receive our writing scores, because a limo ride was on the line. A limo ride to the Olive Garden. That’s right, THE Olive Garden. A place I so actively avoid in the present, but for my fourth grade self, was an epic reward for achievement. Bread sticks? You mean, if I get a 5 or a 6 out of 6 on my FCAT writing, I get a limo ride to breadsticks? Alas: motivation.
I scored a 6 out of 6, and got my limo ride. But, it was writing. It was something I had to do for school, but I secretly enjoyed it. I enjoyed combining words together to form my thoughts on paper and tell a story. I loved narrative prompts. I got to be creative. It was a test, but I scored well, because I enjoyed it. Fast forward to now. I began this blog as a space for myself to write about what I enjoyed, my experiences, things I’ve learned through those experiences, and with a mission to help or inspire whatever readers showed up. I had no plans for this space on the internet, it was just something I enjoyed.
When I was nominated for the Best of the Bay ‘Best Food Blogger’ award here in Tampa, I was, candidly, surprised. For some reason, I continue to assume that nobody reads this. Like I am talking to myself. Blogging is hard work; any blogger will agree. So, the moment I realized that I was being recognized, you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I understand that this isn’t the Oscars and that I wasn’t nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but it doesn’t matter to me.
I appreciate every piece of recognition and take each achievement to heart. This is how I build and grow myself. If you’re a runner, and today you ran .2 miles longer than you ran yesterday, that’s growth. Celebrate. Now, I’m not one who agrees with giving every child an award for participation (although, I did receive honorable mention a couple times as a kid…whatever that means), but I do think we should all recognize our growth. Take a moment to realize how far you have come, and no matter how big or small the steps you have taken are, they are steps in the right direction, and will pay off.
Now, here is a little snippet about the Best of the Bay 25th Anniversary Party:
The Creative Loafing Best of the Bay 2015 party was held at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete. The theater is directly across the street from a gorgeous marina, and right near Vinoy Park. It was a stunning venue, one that I’d yet to see, even after living in Tampa for fifteen years.
The night began with food-tasting inside the lobbies. There was Cuban food, American food, Greek food, Italian food, and not to mention, lots of booze. My mom was my wonderful date, so we each enjoyed a vodka tonic + lime with our dinners (which consisted of about two-three small plates each). We started off with some arroz con pollo and a maduro from Pipo’s Cafe, a Cuban restaurant on MacDill Ave in South Tampa.
All of the food that we had was on point, minus some calamari that literally almost made me vomit. But let’s not talk about that right now.
Then there was this banana’s foster margarita…
And yes, that is lipstick on my hand. All aboard the hot mess express.
That was the most unique margarita I’ve ever had.
My favorite plate of the night was the wild mushroom risotto with arugula pesto, sprinkled with chives.
It finally came time to watch the award presentation. Due to the fact that ~300 awards were presented, they kept the actual presentation to an hour. The rest of us (mostly the readers’ choice awards) were to visit the Grand Ballroom to pick up our awards. I had a hunch that the winners had been told that they’d won, prior to the party, so I went into the ballroom expecting nothing, as no one had told me anything. Even one of the ladies working in the award room told me she’d heard people were informed that they’d won, so there went any confidence I’d worked up. But then, she checked her list of winners.
I won! Thank you, first of all, to whoever nominated me. Wherever and whoever you are, you rock. Secondly, thank you to everyone who voted for me. It is very humbling to know that I am surrounded by family and friends who support me and want to see me succeed. I am so grateful for your encouragement.