Three days home alone: the teen leaves me with the menagerie and I continue my quest

This is the second in what will probably be a babbling series of updates about the interactions of many areas of my life.

My new quest is to understand more about my disability— cerebral palsy— since my generation and certainly those before learned not to question these things. In the early to mid-twentieth century those who couldn’t pass as normal able-bodied people were institutionalized and parents of such children told to forget they ever existed.

I did receive a referral from my doctor to call the neurology office and explore this and I suppose I should put down the blog post and call before I forget. I wasn’t told to call a certain person so I am left with questions.

  • Does anyone in the office know CP? Like really know it?
  • Will this be a nice consultation or a medical appointment where I become an experiment?
  • Will I have the nerve to ask these two questions?

I did take the time to call, and I put on my “journalist voice” as my daughter calls it. I explain that I am a 46-year-old woman with Cerebral Palsy and while my medical team has done a wonderful job treating my body and helping me understand my physical defects, no one has ever explained the brain-body connection or what kind of CP I have.

And I emphasize that I want to understand so that I can age as gracefully as I am able, since some issues might reside in my brain and physical therapy won’t fix that.

A very nice person put me on hold. Time passed and with each minute I filled with fear. What if they don’t have someone? I chastise myself for the thought. It’s a neurology department at a major regional hospital network— someone should have some experience with CP.

But somehow, it doesn’t settle the fear. I think that’s another disability-related trait. Because some of us were taught to “pass” as able-bodied we don’t want to break the illusion and we certainly don’t want to bother anyone when obviously these medical professionals have real sick and injured patients who need them.

So while I was on the phone debating whether or not they just didn’t know how to help me or whether they just didn’t want to be bothered with the pesky person who had questions, I unloaded the dishwasher. And reloaded. And made iced tea. Because it took ten minutes.

And then all of a sudden a person from the hospital central scheduling answered the phone. Turns out I had been lost in the phone system.

After a charming conversation with the scheduler, and bidding her adieu hoping I have no major tests in my future that require her services, I called the neurology office back.

I introduce myself again and say there must have be an issue on either my end or their’s as I ended up transferred to central scheduling. I repeated my cute little tale and the person answering the phone— it was either Megan or Lisa (the other was the lovely person from central scheduling)— said she’d send a message to the physician and when he found the right person they would call me back.

If I could back up for a moment, today the teenager left for her Cape May vacation with her grandmother, her father’s mother. They took my car and I am so excited for them. The teen has worked so hard to pay for this trip for her grandmother. She took my car so I’ll be home alone until Thursday night, caring for the menagerie and getting caught up on housework and hopefully putting the near final touches on my debut novel.

That’s a lot for three days. Tonight I plan on doing my yard work and tomorrow I need to gather some more of the teen’s birthday bomb as it is garbage night. I will also continue taking garbage from teenager two’s former room as she no longer reads my messages and left a room full of garbage, dirty dishes and about 30 empty cat food cans and a dirty cat box with cat waste also on the floor. I think I found all the partially consumed (human) food, and I also found some broken dishes and destroyed linens.

She did thank me for everything I did, but I’d still feel better if I didn’t have to clean up her filth.

Many more of these to come.

There’s a heat wave browbeating everyone so I’m filling a lot of water bowls and passing out ice cubes. These new Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab tumblers make it easy to stay hydrated.

Yesterday before work I went for my follow up blood work. I always get blood work done before my annual physical. This year’s January blood work showed low vitamin D.

He asked me to start taking vitamin D, which isn’t unusual. Most people don’t get enough. He asked for a follow up in six months, and, because of my history of anemia (which was very severe when the teen was in kindergarten) I suggested he check my iron. My vitamin D has increased by 10, but I’m seeing that both D and iron are low/normal. We’ll see what he has to say about that.

And some fun stuff related to my previous blog post… I know it was long and rambling but I want people to experience the string of connections as I feel them. My stress regarding being on hold with the neurologist may resonate with someone. And two of my friends did point out some connected resources. I do love resources.

First, a good friend mentioned she used to read and reread the memoir/biography Karen by Marie Killilea (and there’s a sequel From Karen with Love) about a mother’s journey mid century with her daughter’s CP, when mom was told to institutionalize the child.

Another friend mentioned the podcast Achilles’ Heel hosted by a close relative. Alex Hooper on the podcast interviews guests on a wide range of topics from empaths to panic attacks encouraging listeners to tackle head on their own Achilles’ Heel. I listened to enough last night to know this will be fun.

I also had another Ginger coaching session, but that’s going to have to wait as my typing fingers are tired.

Review: Sunday Adventure to Turn In Family Restaurant

My family has always enjoyed small, off-the-beaten path restaurants. The kind of place many people would call a “hole in the wall” but I prefer to think of them as “independent.”

That’s how you find the best, or the worst, of food. And often the highest quality meals at the lowest prices.

Today, the teenager and I got up at a reasonable hour — or early for us— to take Extra Crunchy and Parker (and another family’s foster Wynken) from our cat rescue Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to another animal rescue Furry Feet Rescue for shots and neutering.

By the time we retrieved kittens and microchips and made the 17 mile drive to drop the babies off, it was noon.

We found ourselves needing to use a bathroom and hungry in the small town of Bath, Pa. At a traffic light we noticed TurnIn Family Restaurant and with the teenager’s current occupation as a diner waitress, well we couldn’t resist.

Who says animal rescue is all hard work?

Turn In Family Restaurant turned out to be adorable. We got there after the Sunday morning early rush and minutes before the after church crowd.

The restaurant smelled of fresh potting soil as it actually had real plants and flowers. The dessert case looked amazing so I splurged and bought the teenager’s dad a giant cookie (hey, Darrell— “put that cookie down.”)

They gave us the lunch menu but when the waitress arrived she offered us breakfast and I accepted. After all, you can’t judge a diner without trying its classic morning meal.

Speaking of classic, my daughter got the Turn In Breakfast which is the same basic idea as the Tic Toc Breakfast Feast— but the price is $3 cheaper and at Turn In includes toast. I ordered the eggs Benedict.

The Hollandaise sauce couldn’t have been more perfect. The home fries the right delightful mix of soft on one side and crispy on the other. The Canadian bacon with my platter was thick cut and just salty enough to give the meal the right zest.

The teenager and I realized that we have become true pancake connoisseurs. The Turn In pancakes were very fluffy and rather dry, where Tic Roc’s pancakes are denser and have a heavier butter/fried flavor.

The bill came to $20, which included the cookie but not the $5 tip we left.

Travelogue at home

The other day I asked myself— what would happen if we approached our everyday lives like a writer taking notes for a travelogue?

Interesting that I thought of this now, as Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago I was in Somalia eating fruit so succulent it was like ice cream. I remember the dark wood of the built-in wardrobe of our hotel room, the way the guard at the top of the stairs would chit-chat with me as he rocked his plastic lawn chair with his gun across his lap.

That was also the week I decided to overhaul my marriage— because as I was traveling the streets of Mogadishu trying to interpret the paintings that adorned the shops and watched a women make coffee on the side of the road amidst traffic, I realized I had my laptop in Somalia with all of our household information. If anything had happened to me, I didn’t know if my husband knew how to log into our bank account or when to pay the mortgage (or how much it was or who receives the payment).

I suddenly realized my own mortality. And that my control of everything needed to change.

To return this ramble to the idea of a quotidienne travelogue, I always blog while we travel, even to places more mundane than Africa, and M, my traveling companion, would always sit down with his phone and his cigarette about to read the link I sent him.

“Oh good,” he would say, “Let’s see what I did today.”

Life at the Aviary

The colors in the room— vivid pink (almost a fuchsia) walls in semi-gloss, teal swirly floral-paisley curtains and a yellow patterned duvet color with pink sheets adorned with white polka dots— created a cheery environment that brightened exponentially with every ray of sunshine that crept in through the three windows facing south.

The birds grew more animated as the sun intensified, three adult parakeets and three freshly hatched chicks under three weeks old and a Goffin’s cockatoo, a mini-parrot who expressed her nervousness by barbering and plucking her own feathers. Even bird teenagers are prone to rituals of self-harm.

Once awake, I strolled down to the living area, also decorated boldly but simply with sky blue walls with a hint of turquoise and a chalkboard wall under the stairs with a variety of notes. The furniture included a cushioned bench, cozy teal chairs, and an emerald green loveseat that sat oddly low to the ground.

I sipped a very hot cup of coffee with cream not brewed but steamed for me as if it were espresso. Cats swirled at my feet, including one with a gruff, tired face. He wore a Captain America collar. When he moved, his gait revealed his amputee status— having lost his front left leg to kitty cat cancer.

After this, I traveled back to the aviary chamber to help care for the birds. I handled these tiny chicks!

My companion and I departed shortly after our “chores” to have breakfast at Tic Toc Diner. My companion has a love of chocolate milk and pancakes. She insists that both always tastes better at a diner.

I discover what might be my new all time favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict Florentine with garlic and tomato. As a poached egg is one of my favorite things on Earth, it only gets better when we add some nutritionally dense spinach smothered in hollandais sauce.

The pleasures here and simple and the environment chaotic.

Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.

Why I need my lucky shirt: a typical day when you’re eccentric and have cerebral palsy

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.

And this is how she did: Nala at Dunkin

And we had taken Misty, our kitten, to Wendy’s (Kitten at Wendy’s ) so why not a bird?

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.

Two Loves Connected in Ellicott City

The backstory

My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.

My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.

My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.

When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.

And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.

I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.

I have very key memories of Ellicott City.

Gordon Ramsay

Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.

I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.

So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.

The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.

N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.

(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)

Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.

I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.

The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.

If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.

I hope N gets to watch it.

I’d like to hear her opinion.

In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.

The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

Goals—and how the impulsive selection of a desktop picture breeds hope

My last day in the office was March 17. We were practicing social distancing— not allowed to pass each other in the hall, speaking from inside our offices, wiping down doorknobs and the copy machine.

It was George’s mother’s birthday and he couldn’t go see her in the nursing home. That made him sad.

Tomorrow will be my 13th day of working from home. The fourth day of my second year with the agency. My first full day working on my new laptop. I had to reset windows and I managed to send myself this old picture from my phone for my desktop photo:

Traveling

I took it on the road between Djibouti City and Lac Abbé four years ago. Other than my daughter, I’ve shown one person this photo and they didn’t even ask what it was.

“Some random African photo,” he said when I asked if he noticed it, “I know your fascination with Africa.”

So I explained. “Ah,” he said, “that makes sense.”

This is the original photo that I took in January 2016.

On the Road

There is beauty in that photo, and oppressive dry heat, and the implication of hardship. Where are they going? Is it far? Yet, such color and contrast. Simplicity.

The man in the front is wearing a traditional man’s skirt. They say it helps you stay cool in the heat. The women have such light but colorful layers, lovely hijab blowing in what appears to be a slight breeze.

This photo takes me away when I look at it, and for me, it offers perspective and optimism.

I do have a critical theorist’s fascination with Africa, but my passion is actually post-colonial Francophone Africa and how their colonial experience and subsequent (ahem) immigration issues and Muslim relations provide lessons for American imperialism in a post-9/11 world.

Though recent political upheaval in South Africa may provide an interesting cross-examination of the British colonial experience… and what that means for the next generation of African citizens across the continent.

But I digress… not uncommon.

I have some goals I want to set this week.

  • Have several meals with my daughter at our patio cafe.
  • Take 3 walks.
  • Do 5 push ups tomorrow, 10 on Tuesday, and as many as I can each day as long as it is at least the same as the day before.
  • Care for my nails.
  • Take a bath.
  • Cut the grass.
  • Do a blog series on Tarot cards
Happy Sunday

The Road Trip Home

The witch travels from Washington DC home with Mercury in retrograde

I thought I was on top of everything. I hoped to leave DC around 9 so I could be home by 1.

But then M’s housemates made this lovely kale frittata for breakfast.

I love kale and I love breakfast!

So I enjoyed a slice. And then another.

Everyone followed me out to the car and wished me farewell… and then M noticed a nail in my tire.

M called AAA because I don’t have my membership card. While he did that, I called my AAA home office and asked them to email me a pdf of my membership information. They assured me that I was in the system, but a pdf still made me feel better.

M and I chatted about the international cleaning staples: Lava soap, Brillo pads and Borax powder.

The AAA man came expediently, plugged my tire and sent me on my way.

After 25 miles, while on I-95 about to merge onto 695 outside Baltimore, my tire pressure light came on. I did what I always do, I called my dad and started to freak out and cry.

He advised me to get off the highway and have someone check the tire.

So I got off 695 on the first exit and pulled into a CVS parking lot while I checked the tire visually, then tried to reset the light, and then gave up and used the AAA app to locate local gas stations.

Interesting tidbit, it didn’t tell me which were gas stations and which were actual service (repair) stations.

I ended up at a Sunoco, I believe A.C.E Automotive. I pulled up in front of what looked to be an air compressor hose. I stepped into the office and explained what had happened earlier and asked if anyone could check my tire pressure.

An older gentleman finished writing up someone’s car repair invoice and told me to move my car “by that silver car.”

The silver car was my car.

He checked all of my tires. The back tires were around 26 psi. The drivers side front tire was 31 psi and the freshly repaired tire was 20 psi. The person helping me filled them all and went to get a spray bottle to check the plug.

After it looked like the plug was good, he then told me to drive a mile or two and come back.

I still couldn’t get the light to reset.

So I drove a bit and came back and filled the car with gas. I asked the gentleman his name, and introduced myself. His name was Gary and he reminded me of my dad.

Meanwhile my dad is texting me. My dad encourages me to be cautious and not to hesitate to buy a new tire.

Gary checks all the tires and they are holding pressure. He knows I have 175 miles to go. He tells me to text my dad that I’m fine and I don’t need a new tire.

I try to pay Gary and he tells me I don’t owe him anything because “that’s how people should be.”
I stop at the visitors center right over the Pennsylvania state line and finally am able to reset the tire pressure light. I thought about how much those lights scare me. “Back in the day,” we got in the car and took our chances. We didn’t have warning lights. Cars just broke down.

And now a light comes on and I’m calling my dad in tears terrified I’m going to have a horrible accident.

But at the visitors center, the light goes out. I buy coffee from the vending machine.

And I notice the rest stop has free wi-fi. How cutting edge of Pennsylvania.

I was considering stopping at a truck stop to buy a tire gauge, but I did not.

I also promised myself if I saw a Popeye’s I would get a chicken sandwich. I did not.

I got home at 3.

That was a long day.

For more on my weekend away:

Saturday mini-break in DC

Sunday Funday paperwork

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Saturday mini-break in DC

My day started early when I couldn’t sleep past 5:15 am. I tossed and turned in bed until I finally got up at 6.

I spent some time with my Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, before pretending to head to work. I was really going to get my nails done and going to visit my traveling companion, M, in Washington, DC.

The teenager is caring for the menagerie in my absence.

Beth trimmed my nails and filed off the old nail polish and gave me a fill on my acrylic manicure.

I went with a dark plum with a cat eye for my farewell to winter nails.

Beth was running a little behind so M mentioned not to worry he was occupied doing his federal taxes. So after my appointment I stopped home to get my tax forms. I grabbed my divorce paperwork too.

I was on the road by exactly 10 am and I arrived here in DC at 1:30, with one potty break. I had forgotten how much I enjoy driving, blasting my music, singing and thinking. Traffic is not so fun.

M and I then sat on the couch drinking coffee for FOUR HOURS. I laughed hard and often.

Then at 5:30 we hopped onto the bus and headed to Taqueria Habanero. (Taqueria Habanero) I had a lovely sangria with tequila.

And I ordered the pork and pineapple taco and a salmon taco, which was a really nice piece of fish, and ate M’s mole chicken for him. (For food photos, see instagram.)

The two men beside us at the restaurant were very old and very loud and I think they were meeting for the first time on a Tinder date.

Then we went across the street to the 7-Eleven because M wanted to buy me these chips…

… which I ate on the bus ride home. They start out smooth and ranchy.

I also asked M to buy me cookies, which he did. So now we are relaxing in his living room with cookies.