So, today is my estranged husband’s 46th birthday. Our daughter— the teenager— worked very hard on a custom gift.
She had $1.80 to her name and wanted to go to Dollar Tree and purchase wrappings.
I told her I could get her to $2.12 for tissue paper and a gift bag.
Now I keep a change purse separate from my wallet. But I usually leave it in my car. I also keep a half-pint “jelly” mason jar in center console in my car for my quarters. Because I believe in “parking quarters.” I think that shows how old I am.
I also keep a pint-sized canning jar in the kitchen for the spare change I forget to leave in the car or the coins that go through the wash or fall in the couch.
I always use that money at Dollar Tree, because even when you’re broke you can afford something at The Dollar Tree using the change from the jar.
So I took the jar with me into the store.
I gave the teenager enough change to have $3.18. That way she could also get a bow.
The cashier said she’d rather have coins than the teen’s dollar.
And then she asked what I had in the jar.
I told her that was my change.
“We buy change,” she said.
And the look in her eye was like I was gripping a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I was holding a jar of nickels, dimes and pennies.
The line was getting very long but I counted out a dollar in small change and took my daughter’s paper money back.
The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.
The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.
With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.
Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)
So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.
After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.
Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.
And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.
After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.
When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.
That was when the real adventure began.
I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.
So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.
That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.
But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.
I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.
Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.
I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.
I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.
But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.
I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.
I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.
I set her down.
I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.
I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.
I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.
Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.
I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter
In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.
So as part of her birthday extravaganza I took the teenager’s mail and packages, compiled it into a box and gave it to her with her birthday cake during a small birthday dinner with her paternal grandparents.
Her birthday started this weekend with a scavenger hunt at her dad’s and his homemade peanut butter bars. He invited me over to share in their celebration.
Today she spent the day with my father riding his Harley through the Pocono Mountains, eating pancakes and buying coffee from convenience stores.
And my mother-in-law asked what she wanted for her birthday. The teenager asked for a meatloaf.
Well, if your in-laws are bringing a meatloaf, they might as well stay for dinner. And if the in-laws are here, you might as well invite the estranged husband.
And I had some “presents” for her. Unbeknownst to her, a bunch of her packages came today while she was gone.
Among the goodies: most of her Dress Lily order, her June Universal Yums box, and her “low brass witch” customized color-changing tumbler purchased to support my former Target colleague as her family dealt with Covid-related unemployment while their middle child (age six) is battling Leukemia.
More on all of these things another day, as I had a business meeting at eight p.m. and I took a long walk in today’s heat with Nala on my shoulder. She did well,
We bought a burger kit at Tucker Provisions and took it to my dad’s to have a picnic, except it rained and rained so we cooked in the kitchen instead of on the grill.
(And the crazy started before we even left the neighborhood as the teenager saw that someone’s guard dog escaped and she was fairly certain she knew what home it came from since it was on her way to school. She lured it to its yard.)
Somehow this wasn’t surprise as I have always had the curse that it rains when I want to grill.
I’d hoped the teenager’s dad took that with him when our marriage ended. I guess not.
The meal was delicious and we shared it with my elderly Aunt Sharon who lives alone and has her share of disabilities.
I think my step mom loved the brioche rolls from Modern Crumb Bakery best.
We took a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and the teenager collected “treasure” in a brown paper bag— wildflowers, weeds, rocks. My little witch at work.
We had cheesecake. So much cheesecake.
And my dad offered to share his concoction that he makes for his immune system: onions, garlic and honey. No thanks, Dad.
The teenager got my bow from the basement—and once we remembered how to string it—shot arrows at trees in the yard.
Then the teenager brought in her marching baritone to play for her grandparents and she realized she didn’t have a mouthpiece.
The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.
It is my birthday after all.
At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.
Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.
One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.
The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.
I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.
Many things happen in May that I look forward to, primarily the blooming of my lovely pink roses and Lily of the Valley (both fragrances I adore.)
Warmer weather normally arrives (though this year we had snow). The school year is winding down. And there’s an anticipation akin to the new year that good things are to come.
My birthday arrives smack dab in the middle of this week and I know it’s significance will be dulled by major work deadlines and the pandemic. We do have a three day weekend coming for Memorial Day, all of which was why I had hoped to take vacation the last week of May.
That issue has not been settled, so I decided to have some mild fun to at least acknowledge to myself my birthday. Which is #45.
I ordered a sit down hot meal last night, instead of my usual stress meal of 2,000+ calories of pizza. My dear friend and editing client William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series suggested that the teenager and I deserved the treat. Ironically, it was the same restaurant my husband picked for my birthday dinner last year, Two Rivers Brewing.
I ordered a crowler of the Banker’s Brown ale, the breathtaking peanut butter bacon burger, bacon apple mac and cheese, and Brussel Sprouts. My daughter and I feasted like queens.
Speaking of queens, I started watching Hulu’s The Great, loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. The costumes and sets are amazing. The script is witty and allows much thought of life and politics in that time period. I watched 5 episodes yesterday while doing housework.
The teenager had deserved a good meal as she had resecreened one of my bedroom windows.
A friend of mine texted early. He said it was a shame that people couldn’t celebrate properly because of the pandemic. But I pointed out that really nothing has changed. The teenager plans on baking me a cake— might be trying lemon cardamom this year. Cards still come in the mail. My friends and family have phones. And most restaurants have curbside or delivery.
I think the pandemic just removes a lot of the pretentious notions of what we need to survive and highlights how outdated the 40-hour workweek is. Employment for a lot of fields could be based on project completion versus time occupied at a desk.
I treated myself to a self-purchased birthday present today and thanks to the pandemic it comes with a free mask!
And this morning my mom surprised my with a few fun edibles (not THAT kind of edible) and a pair of tights.
Mom and Nala bonded and she approved of the teenager’s efforts in the garden.
So here’s hoping I can clean up this house and get my spirits to where they need to be to start the work week— and my birthday week— with enthusiasm.