A while ago, The Teenager and I decided we wanted to try a Dairy Queen banana split. That we’d share one. And we decided tonight was the night.
We ordered one using the app, and when we arrived we were faced with two new ice cream options: the churro dipped cone and the end of the rainbow shake.
The banana split was delicious. Their strawberry topping was our favorite and it looked like they put two whole bananas in there.
But then The Teenager wanted to try the Rainbow Shake because it looked like it had the crunchies she loved from the cotton candy Blizzard.
So, she went into the Dairy Queen and ordered one. And the churro-dipped cone.
The shake was strawberry flavored and those crunchies tasted like sugary breakfast cereal.
Meanwhile, the ice cream cone tasted like the bastard child of Dairy Queen and Taco Bell, like someone had taken those cinnamon cream cheese balls they have right now and stuffed them with ice cream instead of whatever that cheesy stuff actually is.
I have faced challenges recently unlike the previous difficult times in my life. I no longer live with my husband. My father passed away a year ago this past Thursday. I don’t hear much from members of my family. The health issues that come from aging with a chronic condition like cerebral palsy, while my prognosis is static, present their own difficulties. My cerebral palsy will never change, or get worse, but the complications from having spastic muscles, scissoring legs, years of toe walking and leg bones that don’t sit where leg bones were designed to sit are very real.
This week, for many reasons ranging from family stress to communication difficulties and new and old volunteer commitments, pressed my mental health beyond the point I like to go. I watched a lot of TV.
I also spent much time cuddled into my new Stitch Fix zipper hoodie. But I did peel it off to wash it today, and put it right back on my body.
And my curls came out nicely today. Thank you, curls.
I caught up on The Good Doctor (and while YES! Audrey Lim decided to accept her disability rather than go through a risky surgery, at the midseason episode now the team decides she has recovered some movement on her own and a new less risky surgical plan might restore her mobility. Even her new boyfriend in a wheelchair says she has to do it, and he proposes, to prove to her he’s there whether she can walk or not. The episode ends with her in surgery. If the surgery succeeds, I will be pissed. Will they then feature an interabled relationship? Why must she walk again? Why can’t we have an able-bodied fancy surgeon become a wheelchair user and excel at it? It’s ridiculous that mainstream television starts to show an able-bodied person accepting a serious disability and then again reverts to the idea that she must walk again. And disabled people know, no one complains louder, no one takes adjusting harder than an able-bodied person suddenly rendered less able.)
Wow. I didn’t expect that tangent.
With that caught up, I tried Little Women: LA and a few episodes of Little Women: Atlanta. I learned some of the varieties of dwarfism, and was forced to thing about discrimination in hiring, but as with most reality series, the focus seemed to be on drama. The Atlanta spin-off really heightened the drama. Within two episodes, we had a pregnancy with an indifferent father and jealousy and cat-fights in the clubs. Because if you use Little Women: Atlanta as a source (which I would not) apparently stripping is a great way to make a living and still collect your disability checks. I was not born with that kind of disability.
I heard a podcast featuring Randall Park and thought I would try his Netflix series, Blockbuster. That was also a disappointment. The humor fell flat for me, and I struggled with the concept. There is one Blockbuster video store still in existence, in Bend, Oregon, and USA Today wrote an article comparing the fictional last Blockbuster and the real one and honestly that just confused me more.
So, I went for Hoarders season one on Hulu. It’s amazing after having binge-watched later seasons during previous times of emotional crisis to see how unpolished the initial season is. You can see the crew determining what works and what doesn’t. The cinematography is more dramatic, but the professional only have two days to clean massive hoards and they slowly tack on more time.
At this point, I renewed my Motor Trend streaming service and will stick with Mike Brewer and Marc “Elvis” Priestley on Wheeler Dealers.
Rocking New Boots
I finally got to wear my new Marc Fisher over-the-knee boots! The Teenager worried about me leaving the house in higher-than-usual heels. They were so much fun to wear and didn’t feel any more uncomfortable than other boots.
I left my house around noon. I had promised to bring Maryann some books as her tavern is featured on the cover of The Death of Big Butch. I delivered her copies, visited for a moment (but not as long as I thought I would because the traffic and road closures in downtown Easton made it impossible to drive the three miles to her. It took FORTY minutes.), and heading for my lunch with Bill Prystauk, the author of the Kink Noir series and a long-time writing friend.
We had a lovely meal at Gap Diner in Wind Gap, Pa., a midpoint we select between his location in Stroudsburg and mine in Easton. He had a spinach and feta omelet where the rye toast had this perfect dark line around the edge but the bread remained flexible. The potatoes were also picture perfect. They had this crisp outside and looked soft on the other side. I had pepperpot soup and the buffalo chicken Caesar salad. I was a tiny tiny bit disappointed that the chicken was chicken fingers cut into bite sized pieces but honestly, the beauty of the shredded romaine and its luscious green color won me over.
It was a good eating day as the Teenager brought home fresh bagels from the bagel deli and I had had a salt bagel with piles of kale and spinach and hummus for breakfast, an iced coffee for an afternoon treat, and a dinner of heaps of vegetables (kale, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and zucchini), a vegan chicken tender and a token amount of pork.
Much better than yesterday when I ate a double steakhouse cheeseburger from DQ, cheese curds, pretzel sticks with queso and a blizzard (snickers/brownie) so large in came in a medium soda cup.
Visiting her Ladyship Maxine
From Wind Gap, I traveled out to Point Phillip through some scenic roads to visit photographer Joan and deliver her copies of Big Butch, which apparently I would trade for celery and pears. Joan and I are often trading edibles.
I met the younger stepson, the grandson, and even got to pet the adorable Maxine, a striking cat of great renown. As soon as she heard that I was the one who alerted her people to the existence of Tiki Cat cat food with shrimp, she sniffed and rubbed against my boots providing me with the ultimate blessing.
And Joan gave The Teenager, myself and her own self a Yule present: a game called Ransom Notes, basically Cards against Humanity but with magnetic word stickers. The Teenager cannot wait to play.
All in all, I think I put 50 miles on the car.
I received a phone call from a journalist trying to convince his editor to write a story on Big Butch. And I participated in a speaker phone call with The Teenager and her grandmother (my mother-in-law). She revealed that she would be having fried chicken and potato salad among the offerings on Christmas Eve so I may now have a social obligation that night. I love my mother-in-law’s fried chicken and potato salad.
As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.
But perhaps I need to back up…
The photos above summarize my Halloween.
At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.
Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.
And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.
I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.
My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.
My back hurts.
I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.
My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.
The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.
I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.
Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.
Tonight, the teenagers had their last competition recording and end of year review concert for marching band. Saturday is the last football game— I have a much coveted ticket.
Teenager #1 earned her varsity letter tonight. Teenager #2 earned a pin.
After the performance, the teenager wanted her dad to take her for ice cream but he’d had some alcohol so he asked me to take her.
But I dilly-dallied over the menu too much and Dairy Queen closed before we got there.
I salvaged the evening by offering a trip to Sheetz. We all got milkshakes— Teenager #1 got the Monster Mash and all she would say was “mmmmm” over and over; teenager #2 got a custom chocolate caramel milkshake with brownie bits. I redeemed some rewards points (which turned out to be a fairly complex process) for the pucker shake. I’m not even sure what it really was but it was a blue milkshake with lots of sour patch kid pieces. I loved it.
Though Sheetz really could give the milkshakes a wider straw.
I ordered an appetizer sampler of boneless wings, jalapeño poppers and Wisconsin cheese curds. I already knew I loved Sheetz’s jalapeño poppers, but their cheese curds are beyond amazing. The boneless wings were dry and disappointing.
Dairy Queen retains the title for best chicken.
Meanwhile, the sugar from that milkshake left me feeling super hyped and more inebriated than an alcoholic beverage.
But at the end of the post, there will be a bit of bad news explaining why I had said blizzard. But let’s focus on the good. Because that’s how I roll.
The teenager and I skipped breakfast and went to Dairy Queen for lunch with Nala, the Goffin’s Cockatoo.
The Drumstick Blizzard
The latest blizzard creation from Dairy Queen is the drumstick blizzard with chunks of deep fried chicken in ice cream. Just kidding.
They crushed up bits of Drumstick ice cream cones and peanuts! So good. Very similar to a Snickers Blizzard but not as chewy. The ice cream cone pieces were crunchy and tasty.
And Nala enjoyed her French fries.
So now I have 503 reward points at DQ which is enough for a free 4 piece chicken strip basket.
What I struggle to understand is what is this super bendy straw for?
So, now the bad news… I was informed today that my last day with the non-profit agency where I work will be July 10. That’s why I had a Blizzard.
Here’s to the next chapter. I had a great time learning a lot of new skills in a field that was brand new to me. I had a lot of good experiences and made a lot of new friends and new connections. I look forward to finishing out next week with the team, and I wish the agency the best in the future.
I’ve tried to incorporate the spirit of my “staycation” two weeks ago into my everyday life. I have tried to embrace a more carefree joie de vivre.
I think to some extent it is working.
Scrolling through my blog feed, I see lots of random home-cooked meals, even more pizzas and fast food… I mean, what crazy mood swing prompted me to eat TWO blizzards from DQ in one night???
My dental work on Wednesday was a huge success and has prompted such a physical and emotional relief— because when you’re slowly paying off more than a thousand dollars in dental bills and something is not right, it drains you.
It reminds me, as life often does, that our struggles never really end. The only destination in this journey is death, regardless of what milestones we try to hit along the way.
Some days it’s harder to get out of bed than others, but hopefully there is something for all of us to appreciate and something we can do for the world.
I opened my Lock Keeper Gin from County Seat Spirits last night. Mixed a shot of so with equal parts carbonated water and a light French lavender soda.
Gin by itself has a clean but bitter taste, in my opinion, with the Lock Keeper Gin bursting with a strong citrus aftertaste. The light blend of lavender gave the gin just enough sweetness to be undetectable in my cocktail. I find gin way smoother and easy to mix than vodka, which I know is an unpopular opinion.
I originally started this blog post intending to lambast my local Dairy Queen.
But literally as I was debating what to title this piece when either the owner or the manager of our local Dairy Queen called to make this right.
So as you read this long-winded tale of technological failure and questionable customer service moves, let me say that while it’s not 100% resolved now, I have the cell phone number of the person who can fix it.
The story begins with a mildly inconvenient family matter that still hasn’t been resolved. It kept me out of the house last night until almost midnight. I was lucky to get six hours of uneasy sleep.
And I had a dream that a good friend had come to stay for a couple days to help me deal with some of the things in my life, so I woke disappointed and tired.
The teenager is staying with her dad. She stopped by for her wallet and to get some items she needed to pick up some strong medicine at the doctor.
I ended up leaving work in late morning because of fatigue, and the personal text messages I kept receiving.
The teenager left around 12:30 to head to the doctor.
I hadn’t eaten yet and I saw that DQ has a new Blizzard. Frosted Animal Cookie. Doesn’t that sound interesting?
So I thought I’ll get a 3-piece chicken strip meal deal and the Blizzard and a cheeseburger. A little naughty but it’s been a rough day.
I very carefully selected what I wanted— and left the house at 12:50. The order was submitted, I received a confirmation email and a notice from my bank that $11.25 had been deducted from the $27 left in my account.
DQ’s mobile app has this feature, that you tell them that you’re “here.”
I pulled into the drive thru. So I hit the button.
Now traditionally, in the pre-Coronavirus universe, I hate drive-thrus. I worked for five years at a McDonald’s, much of that in the drive-thru. It was so stressful, but it was my job through college. Drive-thru’s contribute to our anxiety and laziness as a country. We’re all too busy to get out of the car.
Now with Covid-19, I am using a drive-thru once a week. I’m in the line at DQ.
My order disappears.
1:10, I arrive at the speaker. I very professionally and clearly say, “I had a mobile order, but it seems to have disappeared even though I was charged.”
The mysterious voice in the box apologizes but says there is a problem on their end with mobile ordering and she can’t give me food.
I ask her, “May I read you the order and show you it on my phone?”
No, she says.
But you took my money, I said.
You need to call corporate, she said.
May I have the phone number? I asked.
It’s in the app, she replied.
And I had to sit in the drive thru for 20 minutes to not get food.
At 1:30 I pulled into the parking lot to search the app for a phone number. Found a comment section in the app. Gave them 1 star.
Who can’t give $10 of food or a phone number?
I found a comment form and started filling it out and after I got it half way done and the form automatically submitted itself.
I started over.
Then I finally found a phone number.
Waited 10 minutes.
Had a really skillful customer representative named Jeremy who laughed at my jokes and sympathized with my plight. He filed a report and asked me if I wanted to add a complaint against my particular store. Jeremy asked if they were rude, and I said no but I just felt like they could have handled it differently.
So, that done, I ordered a burger from Wendy’s and Vanilla Frostyccino. It was 2 pm and I still hadn’t eaten.
I brought my Wendy’s home, fed Nala (my cockatoo) her French fries and some apples, watched some Gordon Ramsay and prepped to blog a scathing tale of DQ.
As I finished my meal, I got a phone call from someone in charge of my local DQ. I didn’t catch his name, but we had a lovely conversation.
Addition to original post: I texted him this blog post and he told me his name was John and that he owns both the Easton and Bethlehem DQ stores.
I told him I worked for almost a decade selling icees and making Pizza Hit pan pizzas in the Target on Rte. 248. And I would have been able to give my customers a phone number and I would have given them the food.
I had an $11.25 order, for goodness sake.
And he said he would have handled it differently and that he’d like to make it right.
This is a summary of what I told him:
I’m glad you called, because even if I never see the $11 again, just knowing that there are business owners that care and want to provide a good experience matters. The virus makes it hard, we don’t have those face to face interactions. People are tired and aren’t prepared for some of these issues.
So I get that. But he called. And I appreciated that.
And I would let him know if I didn’t get my $11.25 back.
He thanked me for being understanding.
And he told me if I ever had a problem to call him— on his cell.
He dealt with my complaint within an hour, over an $11 sale. He didn’t have to do that.
And John’s response to my blog entry: “Thanks and again, so sorry again about the inconvenience. My name is John and I own the stores in Easton and Bethlehem. I have great crews at both stores but this incident could have been handled much better. I will be using this and sharing it with my crews as a learning experience to 1) do the right thing – take care of the customer and 2) when mistakes happen or problems occur take ownership and let the customer know that you are sorry and that you care. Have a great weekend!! John”
As one of the perks of the online writing community, I have had the pleasure to meet Fausta, a life coach and therapist who has a wide range of capacities and wicked sharp writing skills. She has been working on her blog, and her business, Fausta’s Place to Ponder.
People often influence and inspire each other in the most unexpected ways—often without trying—and I’ve admired and respected Fausta for a long time in just that kind of subtle way.
Like most of us, she’s a real and imperfect woman with a quiet vibrancy. She’s touched me with her honesty about life as a woman and the everyday struggles as a mother, building/continuing her career/business, dealing with her own and her family’s health and keeping her heart and emotional state strong and well.
Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do? In a recent blog post (linked below) she talks about our attitudes and how our mental framing of tasks impact how we perform them. I have continued to ponder this.
I love routine, order and cleanliness. But with 4 cats, 4 birds, 1 teenager, a full-time job, my own physical and emotional issues and a coronavirus pandemic, I can’t always achieve/complete/do everything I want to do.
I have to employ more mindful self compassion, and with the teenager’s help I am growing in this regard. She and I have been discussing the differences in how our brains are wired. This helps me look at my setting from multiple points of view.
My goal, in what used to be Standard American Life, was to workout either at the gym or at home 3-5 times per week and never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.
Now, the gyms are closed. I’m eating too much fast food. And my goal is to clean the kitchen every morning— as my energy levels are higher and it reinforces the idea that every day is a clean start.
But I still need to examine my motivations. There’s a flip side to chores.
Today is Sunday. Yesterday, I got up, did a load of laundry and started the dishwasher. I cleaned all the litter boxes— no small chore with four cats, but oh so worth it.
I did some other odds and ends too but I’ll be darned if I remember them.
And then I attended a business meeting, had coffee with a neighbor, cleaned up after the birds, let the teenager give me a haircut (a rather severe one that doesn’t exactly match the crazy hair I have, but give it two weeks and it will be perfect), split a ginormous, super-sweet cinnamon bun from Cake and Corolla, enjoyed dinner from Dairy Queen, and watched Hell’s Kitchen for the rest of the day.
And I’m not beating myself up over “not doing more.”
But this morning— I got up, washed the pots and pans, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, did two loads of laundry and hung them on the line, fed the menagerie, scrubbed them kitchen counter, took out the compost, emptied the garbage, carried the garbage outside, and vacuumed and washed the kitchen floor.
All before 9:30.
And I feel good about the work I got done. Even if I am still worrying about cutting the grass, working out this week’s budget, and dealing with this week’s groceries and work stress. I dread both. I *don’t* want to do the grocery shopping and I never know what will happen at work on Monday.
So I have a delicate balancing act— what can I do to feel good about myself and my house and what can I do to not exhaust myself?
Because you see, I know I also do chores and scrub the bathtub to avoid facing my fears and emotions in the stillness.
Chores let me use the energy of my angst to achieve something positive, but in the end, that’s not always the best approach to my emotional health and physical self.
Early on in this pandemic I invested in good old fashioned cleaning products: Pine Sol, Ammonia, Fels Naptha, Borax, etc. I opened up the Pine Sol today. Just felt like my neglected floor needed something extra. I got this at the Grocery Outlet and as you can see it’s not traditional Pine Sol. It’s like super floral. “Fresh Scent” by patooty. Someone just exploded a fake floral bomb in my house.