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Covid-19, Grace, Inspiration

Be Like Glenn.

It’s been a week. I’ve had a cold from hell, which I kept thinking could be Covid, because along with the initial sore throat and runny nose and headache, the headaches and the sore throat hung on. Then I got hoarse, really hoarse, like I’ve been a smoker my whole life. In your late 50s with a cold, you no longer emit a sultry voice.  Instead it’s the gravelly middle-aged utterings of someone with thinning skin and hollowed out eyes. Do yourself a favor and if you, too, get laryngitis, don’t google Covid voice, because you’ll swear your voice box has called it quits.

Off to my Covid test.

Obviously with this nasty virus crisscrossing the globe, I got a test. Just a five-minute walk and I was the first appointment of the day. The instruction was to simply spin the swab in your nose several times, nothing too exaggerated or high up your nostril, then swirl it five times in a test tube containing solution. An hour later, an official email and text concurred: I have a cold. 

The cold continued its headache, sore throat and now cough nonsense, peaking with a cough so incessant it required I make a 3am visit to CVS for Delysym, cough drops and Gatorade. There I found one car in the lot and a single employee inside, a nice lady restocking shelves in the brightly lit quiet. Her location? The cough medicine aisle, of course.

I approached her with our new 2022 greeting, “Hi, I’m fully vaxed and tested negative for Covid,” but still, she found another task to occupy her further down the aisle. Can’t say I blame her, with my coughing up a lung behind my KN95 mask with a disposable medical mask over it.

Good and good for you.

“This stuff is flying off the shelves,” she offered, as I hunted for my brand on a lower shelf. I started to get cough drops, too, but the boxes today have so many evil warnings. I wanted to stop coughing and sleep, but geez, at what cost? Found some natural ones instead with honey as the chief of three ingredients. A self-checkout and sweet goodbye from the store clerk, and I was off for home for several hours of sleep before being awakened to banging on the roof.

We’re renovating and after many years of wishing for a new roof, we’re actually getting one, the heavy-duty variety.  Insulated and over that, another layer of wood, and then an ice and water shield before the shingles go on. A kitchen cleanup, coffee, and an hour later, and we had a knock on the door. The contractor had found a squirrel nest with three babies inside. Alive. I checked my usual go-tos for wildlife rescue, and they were full, not answering or didn’t take squirrels. One place gave me the name of a guy I quickly contacted. There are angels among us and this one, named Glenn, a married, middle-aged, mild-mannered squirrel whisperer/rescuer could take them, but the caveat is he’s all the way up in Cumming, an hour away, but agreed to meet me halfway. It was clear he knew this species well, asking questions about their coloring etc., trying to discern their age. Pumping gas, I peered into the box I’d lined with washcloths and saw three adorable tangled hairless grey creatures with bulging closed eyes, pink outstretched arms and sweet little splayed hands.

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Glenn and I met in an empty lot of a closed Bank America, and he joked that this exchange of ours must look like a drug deal. I gratefully turned over the babies to him and he greeted them one by one, assigning each a name with the letter J, like you do hurricanes. Juliana, Jasmine and James, Jasmine later changing to Joey because she was a he. Glenn lovingly lifted the babies from their flea infested nest material and lowered them into a soft magenta blanket he had ready, and off they went. I’ve been getting regular updates and they’re all eating heartily and thriving. Here is Juliana enjoying a meal:

Glenn asked me if I had Covid, and said baby squirrels are quite susceptible to it, and I told him about my negative test. I did a second test two days later, again walking a few doors down for the first morning appointment. This time it was a different woman administering the tests, and I asked her about the best swabbing method.  She suggested big large circles up reasonably high in your nostril, and so that’s what I did. This time I was going to find this evil Covid, which surely was hiding out in the upper walls of my nose. Two hours later, another text and email arrived, and what do you know? I have a cold. 

Smushed Kleenex boxes make the nicest pillows.

With this cold/Covid hyperfocus now off my plate, I could get my cat Louie to the vet to pick up his meds and weigh him. He’s got a growth on his sternum that has fortunately shrunk some from the steroids he’s been on, and we’re hoping our sweet boy has put on weight. He and I were enjoying the sunny day car ride when all of a sudden, I got an urgent light in my dash alerting me that my key is not in the car. Well, the car is either an idiot or morphed into some crazy magical carriage that needs no key. Either way, that ignition was staying on. Pulling over to call the dealer, there was little to offer other than maybe the fob battery they gave me recently was bad. I would need to investigate fobs and ignitions later, but for now pressed on toward the vet when I heard the strangest sound. My typically quiet car rider, Louie, decided he would vomit, not once but twice, so we pulled over again to clean up. Always carry trash bags and paper towels in your car. Despite the barfing, Louie had still gained a pound. A big deal. 

Back home to find the upstairs bathroom ceiling now gone, I looked up at the sunshine spilling over the fixtures now smeared with dust, the already cracked sink now chipped and containing ceiling chunks. Just this morning, I’d gone in to brush my teeth in this very space before a clean sink and mirror, and it seems a hurricane tore through it while Louie and I were away. 

With no upstairs bathroom for who knows how long, the showerless, dingy downstairs bath was up to bat. I went to clean off those fixtures and noticed the sink was slow to drain, the tub too. We’ve had some tree root problems in the past, and know we need to replace these lines, but first, those roof invoices. No Drano on hand and work assignments to get to, the clog would have to wait, but now with an email from the YMCA alerting us that they had no hot water, even our back up was backed up. So what’s another day?

I think my car fob and cell phone have been teaming up in this week of all weeks because, without notice, the next day my cell phone alerted me it had no Sim card. After failed attempts at resuscitating it, I learned on an AppleCare call the phone needed a network reset, so for now the Sim card has returned from her sojourn and taken her seat. It’s an old girl, 8+, but she’s never pulled this kind of crap before.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott
Noelle with previous rescues, and Glenn’s caption, “Every time you try to take a family photo there is always one kid that messes it up.”

Glen and I are now texters, and I get frequent Juliana and Co. updates. She and her brothers are lapping up the formula and now out of Covid confinement, have made the company of other squirrels, one a little younger than them and an adult, Noelle, who will be their foster mom as she has to other littles. Glenn wants Noelle to be the first thing they see when they open their eyes so they can bond with a mama squirrel instead of a human. 

It was at least two days before I could tackle the drains and even think about bathing. I’ve now fluffed up the space with soft things like towels and rugs, and we’ve hauled in our toiletries from upstairs. I drew a bath last night and enjoyed a soak with my Spotify ‘quiet songs’ list going. It was lovely and I let the music carry me somewhere else. After three or so songs came Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major. I put my head back against the edge of this old claw foot, and sunk lower in the warm water. Then out of nowhere everything went dark, lights out, the room somehow even more spectacularly full of dreamy, crisp cello notes.  Our new electrical panel is in place, but maybe we have too many dehumidifiers (from our recent pre-roof tarp times) on one circuit?  I don’t know, but if you find yourself suddenly in darkness while taking a soak, this is your music. It was perfect, enchanting, even.  Believe me, as I’ve never before used that word. 

All is right in the world. I got a bath, Louie is eating, we’ve a roof overhead, and three squirrel babies have checked into the Ritz-Carlton. 

hope, New Year's Day, Positivity, Self reliance

2022

This morning I took my coffee out on the porch. It was an especially good cup, poured from my own dedicated French press, the strength I prefer. I gave this cup a boost in the microwave, so however long I would take drinking my one and only cup, each sip would be consistently hot, just like I like it. Everyone was still sleeping in our full house with both boys home, so it was just me and Bo, the oversized part-human, medium-hair, full-love bug tabby cat. With a thick cloud of sleep still draped over me, I took the coffee in, and after a swallow or two, my mind shifted into its usual shuffle. More fall leaves have blown into this screened porch, so there are those to clean up. My two Boston ferns, still thriving and full, need a little TLC, too, with dead fronds inside to pull and plants to rotate for optimal sun exposure. I overwatered them the other day, compensating for a week or two of neglect, so the saucers below, now full of brown water, need emptying. The glass-topped wicker trunks they sit on normally cast a reflection, but now are caked with opaque grime from these few months since summer. It seems every surface on this porch could use a wipe down in hopes that something sparkly can emerge from the lifeless matte palette. 

I had to take off my flannel shirt and just go with the tank top underneath because, while breezy, it’s an unseasonably warm 71 degrees. With this, my brain went to worry:  our planet is too warm, what is to become of it and all of us? And then, out of nowhere, my thinking flipped to, “This is one damn good cup of coffee.  I like mild temps, and this breeze is delightful tickling my shoulders. The dog hammock on the floor, my beloved Lucie’s, might one day be a resting spot for a future dog I’ll get to love. A broom will get up these last few leaves and how amazing it is to have ferns still so green and lush in December!”

This insistence I have on first focusing on the negative or the never ending piles of shoulds before seeing the birds at the feeder I just filled, the changing skies and beautiful cloud formations I’ll get to witness all day long if I can just look, our elderly cat upstairs, Louie, who, after a few days of not eating, is beginning to nibble on his kibble, is not serving me. The fixation on things, such as the boss I worked with last year who just yesterday announced she is leaving the company, which begs the question, will her colleagues continue working with me? Or, how ’bout this terrible two-year-old doozy: if I get Covid, how will my body fare? This hyperawareness of problems which could be, but not yet are, after all these years and after all the lessons I’m supposed to have learned, is still with me burning brightly as ever. 

As I sit here typing this, I am wondering if maybe this worry, which is unquestionably my default factory setting, could come in second instead of the first place it’s most often awarded? In Kindergarten, isn’t it those children sitting still raising their hand the ones who get called on? Those acting up, bothering those around them and generally causing a nuisance, are not the ones who will get a special sticker, or a jelly bean, or kind words from the teacher, or most importantly, a chance to speak. Instead, they’ll get negative attention, which I think is the same food worry consumes. Sometimes, with the right teacher and a little luck, those misbehaving kids watching the others will self-correct and find that, in fact, stickers and jelly beans are worth the mild shift in behavior, and maybe that temporary shift might just become the new default. Is there hope for worry yet?

I’m not in AA, but for anyone who needs a buoy to grab onto, one of the lines from its Serenity Prayer is a balm: Accept the things you cannot change. There is always something good out there to grab hold of and of course no shortage of worry you can summon or that will just drop in without calling first. There are also those things which, even after your best efforts, you just can’t change. The outcomes will come and instead of forecasting them or powerlessly waiting them out, you can get busy and deliberately create your days. The fear, the sadness, the loss, and the dust caked on surfaces isn’t permanent. Whenever you choose, you can go find a fresh soft cloth and wipe it clean. It’ll come back, of course, but it’s not the enemy, and you don’t have to ferociously beat it back. 

For me, today and every New Year’s Day feels like the first day of the rest of our lives, and I’ve decided this year, 2022, at least aesthetically, is especially attractive because it is full of my favorite number, 2. It is elegant and curvy and graceful like a swan, but also has a solid horizontal base, which supports it. It is open, and inviting, and slender, and inclusive, as in “too,” and its neck creates a nook for company, as in “two,” and it can go places, as in “to.” 

The mess and the calm are a constant inside and outside me, but in lieu of braiding them separately into pigtails to hang on opposite sides of my head, like squabbling children you must separate, maybe they can combine into one braid trailing down my back, and I can lead the way? If nothing else, some thoughts to chew on.

Happy New Year. Let’s do this year and not let it do us. Big love to you. 

breast cancer, connection, Encouragement, Health, hope, Uncategorized

Two down, looking up.

It’s here! November 21. Finally, and forever in my head as a threshold I get to cross: the day I had that lumpectomy surgery. I had already put this day behind me when I was wheeled into that operating room two years ago, and now, I am grateful and looking forward.

Here I am. I’ve hit two years and then there’ll be three, five and that mother of all finish lines, ten, where they’ll hand me a “cured” ribbon. You don’t really get a ribbon, I don’t think, but, actually better, you get to drop off of your oncologist’s schedule. If there is a ribbon, I picture it a bright sunny yellow one vs pink and screaming all kinds of hope and happy. The pink doesn’t do that for me. Blood can be pink, Pepto Bismol is pink, calamine lotion is pink, and at the center of the storm, nipples, are pink, unless you radiate them 21 times, and then they turn closer to the color of your skin. Yellow, however, is hope, the sun, happy lemonade on a summer day, my hair keeping my head warm, the color of urine when it’s telling you to hydrate more, the circle of French knots in the center of a daisy. I vote yellow.

For this award, there are people to thank:

General gratitude goes out to people who show kindness. The nurses have it going on. The one standing close to my feet while I was getting biopsied initially, who took it upon herself to lovingly stroke my ankles and drape a warm towel over them. The others, who during office visits continue to hear me and my endless concerns, and help me get to the answers I need. The others during chemo who, like labor and delivery nurses, treat you like a queen when you didn’t think you needed or deserved it, and then like a regular person when you most do. They listen to your wired incessant jokes, as the steroids you’ve had to take for days surge through your veins, and they really laugh, the belly kind when you know you’ve struck a chord with someone. The ones who, after chemo and radiation is through, nudge you to ring that bell, and gather others around to cheer you on, noisemakers in hand, beaming ’til their sweet faces must hurt, and then sending you on your way. 

Hair stylists have it, too. When you go in with a crazy combination of long strung out strands and new little sprouts appearing on your scalp, and you leave with a legitimate cut, you know there are angels out there. You return every few months to lessen the gulf between long hair and short and, two years in, it’s just a head of hair now, like everyone else.

The friends you either don’t know well or else don’t see often, but who know what happened. They see me now and they always seem happy that they can. I worry, sometimes, if my brand is too bright, if this little health emergency I had to tend to might forever define me. Sometimes when I see these people, I wonder if there’s a little curiosity going on, like I’ve had myself with the few people I knew who had “it.” Maybe it’s a little hesitation to stand too close to that lady who saw things. Did she see a white light, you know getting so near to the other side? What were they like, those bags of poison, four of which ran through her veins?  Did she lose hair everywhere, I mean, even down there? And what has become of that poor boob, now that the show is over and the scaffolding has been removed? Is this girl now cloaked in a hopeful gratitude blanket skipping along pink meadows through her journey, or does that why did this happen to me bitterness ever come calling? To which I can answer: I was of course joking about a white light. The IV hurt like any IV does going in, but as for the poison itself, you wouldn’t know that’s what you’re getting. Days later, though, it definitely brought skin and taste and stomach annoyances as it worked its magic. Hair left all the different parts of my body in waves and returned in a similar staggered fashion, but now it’s all back and glorious. The boob is just dandy, thank you very much, and all things considered, seems quite normal and happy for its future still here with me. Gratitude is brighter and I literally must stop and smell every rose I see.  And I do. The small stuff, however, can definitely still grate on my nerves, but any bitter taste in my mouth, literally from chemo and figuratively from all this existential stuff I’ve been wading through, has given way to staying on the hunt for improvements in every area of my life. 

To those individuals, friends of mine, not naming names, but you know who you are, you did things, good things, that I won’t forget. 

-You were with me when I got the call, and only had love – not worry – on your face when I later told you.

-You sent emails telling me I was on your mind.

-You bought cards and mailed them to me, sweet words lifting me up, cards I’ll always keep. 

-You hugged me tight, that yummy long embrace that came out of nowhere, but I so needed, and which still lingers.

-You thoughtfully read my blog and commented, cheered me on, sometimes even remembering important milestones I was about to meet. 

-You helped me get curious about meditation even though, like my only occasional church visits, I’m a sometimes meditator. Still, you let me break down and cry and sent me home with some wonderful books, each with its own accessible, healing approach.

-You cooked for me, all of it handmade with love: chicken with broccoli, kale stew, broiled shrimp and roasted vegetables, vegetable and kale soup.

– You were going through your own similar slice of hell at the same time, yet you were open to meeting me and sharing your story with me over coffee, emails and visits, and we got to root each other on.

-You sent flowers and sweet notes.

-You called.

-You sent love in a blanket with hopeful words embellished in its fabric.

-You sent socks with treads on them that I still wear, ginger lozenges for chemo, special shampoos and other helpful goodies you lovingly researched to carry me.

-You joined me on some of those 21 days, walking to radiation, the six miles there and back. What fun that was noticing things, catching up, laughing too.

-You went to a long day of chemo with me where we hunkered down and where you helped ice my fingers and toes, so chemo’s poison wouldn’t bring on neuropathy. We caught up, killed the time, and we lunched, and I learned that this is what friends do. 

-You checked in.

-You showed up. 

-You loved me as if nothing had changed.

To my family: you continue to dilute my worries and reset me in the direction of everything’s going to be okay. Two of you flew down to be with me for my last chemo. How special that was! Another one of you sat with me and watched TV as I lolled in bed wrung out from that one beast of a nausea episode. You walked with me to radiation that gorgeous early spring day. You all continue supporting and encouraging me as I’ve changed things up and largely lessened my alcohol intake, dropped beef off my menu, and continue to try and make healthier choices. For those of you who pray, you prayed. All of you loved me and listened and cared, and you still do. I know this has been a long haul, exhausting for you, too, but you went through this with me, and we came out the other side together, now with two years under our belts. Now, it’s that much farther behind all of us, thank god, and thank 💛you💛 from the bottom of my heart. 

Uncategorized

Toast Points

This morning, I attended a virtual Creative Mornings event titled Street Wisdom, the idea being a little tune-up we can all give ourselves, this first one guided by David Pearl, author at http://www.streetwisdom.org. We were given three tasks:

The light

1) Look around where you are. What attracts you and what doesn’t? I looked up from my bed from where I was participating–I determined my bedroom’s cream curtains made for a better Zoom background as opposed to the construction plastic draped from the ceiling in the other option for a Zoom call–and settled my eyes on a lamp on my dresser. This lamp and I go way back, 50+ years, actually. It was in my room growing up and always on my dresser, and now it sits on a different dresser wearing a new linen shade. The lamp base is the same, and offers a reliable consistency, like a good friend does, who knew you way back when. How is it that this pretty pink English calico lamp came to mind and into view? It attracts me on so many levels: its beauty, elegance, quietness and femininity, and especially its connection to my childhood and that little girl who walked up to it every day as she rifled through her dresser for something to wear, barely noticing it, really. It has stayed exactly the same while everything around it has changed. These artifacts from my past validate that this other life I had–which seems as if from a fading dream–really existed. The parents I had who left me nearly three decades ago, my mother who likely purchased this lamp. Was it for her living room initially, or was it always bought with her younger daughter in mind? If this lamp could talk, what would it tell my earlier self? It sits there ever so steady and peaceful; I want even a fraction of its unflappable grace. All the moves I’ve made, all the tabletops it’s sat on, the people who’ve touched it, moved it, dusted it, and here it still stands, not terribly tall, but proud and elegant, confident of its place in the room. This is what attracts me. 

The heap

What doesn’t? The pile of clothes heaped on the slipper chair next to the dresser where the lamp sits. They are haphazard, a cacophony of colors and wrinkles and not, some folded from clean laundry brought up days ago, some dress shirts, still unhung and flung over the chair’s back to keep more wrinkles at bay. The two dark pieces of luggage on the floor next to it, one perpendicular to the wall, one parallel. The disarray, the tasks needing doing, the darkness, the bold swaths of colors and shapes sloppily bleeding into one another, the visual stimulation that corner brings is a detraction and is what doesn’t attract me.

2) Our next task in this tune up was to “slow right down.” If I had a clean corner for every time someone told me to slow down, well, I’d have a tidier house and mind than I do now. This exercise involved getting up and moving about, wherever you are inside or out, and slowing down your thoughts, your pace, your breathing as you move. Noticing each step, a changing environment or a cat walking by, took me away from my predictable looping brain reel and into a reality outside my head, which replaced my usual thoughts, if only for a few minutes. It changed my vision from a wide frame taking in all stimuli at once, a busy horizon stretched to its edges, to a narrow aperture seeing single things in a slide show style succession. The external world felt smaller, but each item was bigger and more beautiful, and the overwhelm of tasks was delightfully at bay.

3) The last tune-up task was to see (and sense) the beauty in everything and everyone. The instruction was to see gratitude as a wallpaper in bright colors. Participants had 15 minutes to move about and do this. Many lived in trendy Brooklyn, donned in black with contrasting white AirPods in their ears, and they moved about soaking up those high rpms that are signature New York. During most of this Zoom call, I had wrestled with keeping my camera on and then off, rinse and repeat, distracted and a bit discouraged seeing my pale morning face, glasses and floppy pillows behind me. The jig is up, folks: this girl is wearing the same tank top she slept in, she’s propped up in bed for God’s sake, and hasn’t bothered to turn a light on, so of course her Zoom background is a dull, just woke up shade of grey! After the back and forth of video on/off indecision and background adjustments, I was relieved to simply turn my camera off and go downstairs. If something doesn’t work, unplug it for a while. Passing a laundry basket, I’d moments earlier filled with soaked towels catching rainwater (from poorly tarped renovated spaces, an entire other story, but did you SEE last night’s rain?), hungry, I made my way to the kitchen.

A logo so pretty you can practically smell the bread baking

To kill my fifteen minutes, I chose to do something useful, like moving a load of towels to the dryer and making myself some toast. The bread I’d be toasting was a gorgeous hand-crafted country sourdough loaf I bought yesterday from Evergreen Butcher and Baker. I told them they need to rent the place next door, where they could employ the third member of their holy trinity, the “Candlestick Maker.” The girl in the bakery laughed and told me her roommate had said that, too. The bread has that homemade substance you envision in an artisan loaf, but is light and airy, too. I forced the toast up from the toaster after what I determined was an interminable wait. I had two thin pats of butter ready to go and minced them for easy dispersing over the hot bread. I sprinkled a little salt over the top as I stood there watching the butter slowly melt, and helped it along with a knife, so I could eat it quicker and to uniformly spread the salt. I stood at the counter to deliberately eat the toast, one luscious bite at a time, salt and butter finding its way into the cavernous pockets of this sumptuous slice. I heard the dryer spinning on the other side of the wall and I heard the crunch of warm toast bites in stereo inside my head. I had thought to pop in two slices, but I don’t think a second slice would have compared, and my toast fascination and amazement would have been largely diluted. Sated, I slowly wandered back upstairs, back to the Brooklyn, Sydney, Paris and even a handful of Georgia Creative Mornings Zoomers. The screen slowly woke up and the chats began to flow. We’d each noticed different things, me, the hypnotic quality of towels tumbling in a dryer as slowly melting butter and salt sank into toast air pockets. We each were revived from this quarter of an hour, which offered a fascinating meditative hyper-focus where we could find a simple pocket of stillness and become reacquainted with our wide-open hearts, and minds, and eyes. 

Throughout the session, a few quotes were offered up, and I jotted them down. 

1) Whatever interests you is your future self-seeking to manifest itself in the present.

2) Sometimes you have to turn something off to turn something on.

3) Don’t stick with what we know.

4) Be patient with yourself.

5) Sit with your discomfort.

6) New things can be built up around the things we already have. 

7) How am I moving forward for myself?

8) You know where to go. You can steer.

9) Put what’s inside you outside you so you can see it. 

10) Creativity is that rare phenomenon where teacher and student reside in the same human.

Have yourself a wondrous weekend and maybe some toast.

xo

Food, hope, Travel

It’s fall, y’all.

Fall assembled outside our hotel

Sometimes you have to leave to come back home. We had a little weekend getaway, something new. That you must fly six states away to enjoy daily walks, yummy dinners, and family time together is nuts, but turns out I needed it and I’ll take it. The cats notice the suitcases when they come out and each time deliver a fuck you side eye as they collapse on the floor watching the inevitable unfold. I turn on the radio to NPR so if nothing else, they’ll have good radio to listen to. Often as our vacations wind down, I’m tempted–and have actually done this before–to call the house and reassure the cats through the answering machine’s speaker, “We’re coming home soon! Hang on!”

Dahlias in the northeast think it’s still summer

I’m not so good at letting go and delegating, and it’s hard to leave these nests we’ve loved on for so many years. As it turns out, our new pet sitter has it together and even checked in with a newsy and thankfully uneventful update while we were away. Peace of mind goes a long way. The tenants at our other house are happy to water the newly seeded lawn for a few days. With the recent collapsed sewer line replacement there, things are now smooth and humming along, and they now get to use both toilets as often as they’d like. (It really is the small things.) At our own house, the tarps over the new spaces are neither secure nor numerous enough, and a heavy rain brings little trickles inside. Seems there are fair skies ahead, but until the contractor returns, we’ve got pots and towels and the hum of dehumidifiers in place to absorb it all. 

Just before leaving, there’s always that final rushed sweep of the house, giving surfaces a quick once over, cleaning out the fridge, even watering the ferns again–the same ones you lovingly tended all summer, but days earlier callously left for dead, justifying Kimberly Queens don’t do winter inside. The anticipation often is even better than the trip. Like a new year rolling in, for me it’s always a reset. Instead of habitually pulling leggings or jeans off the chair to slide on for a new day, travelling with a single suitcase, you arrive with actual outfits to wear and a few unpredictable consecutive days to unfold as you wish.

Taking off with Evan by my side

On the plane there’s still that slight apprehension at takeoff and landing, so you text family that you love them because should, heaven forbid, flight #DL0431 not reach its destination, you’ve at least said your peace.  And, of course, for take-off and landing, you grab the hand of family next to you. I’m thankful they are willing to humor me in this superstitious ritual. 

After settling in with a beverage, you invariably make your way to the toilette. That cortisol-spiking jolt you get in those few seconds after flushing is the stuff heart attacks are made of. You must wait a bit and then it comes on quick and loud, surprising you each time. The lavatory has a gentler song, and the door lock performs as you’d expect, that reliable solid securing sound as you slide the lever, but, oh, that toilet!

A little magic out our hotel window

This last trip, along with the usual negotiations about how we will fill our time, where we will eat and whether a taxi or Uber or walking is most cost and time effective, brought some simple unexpected high notes. Seeing your older son in his own apartment nesting with his girlfriend in a space they found and made into a home sure makes a mom proud. Full of bright light, modern mostly found furniture, and an older sweet rescued cat, it’s happy here, and with a deli, laundry and the subway a block away and a straight shot to school, it’s perfect. Plus there’s a hatch in the hall outside his door and a twinkling rooftop to enjoy. Having your younger son visit too and stay there gives your boys that unscripted time together we’re all short on. Using hotel points, Joe managed to score free nights at three different hotels for this three-night stay, so we moved around a bit this trip, but got the variety of experiences in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. 

New York requires proof of vaccination and an ID if you want to eat at a restaurant here.  As far as I’m concerned that’s the way it should be–no drama, no whine, no politics. Just smart, fueled by the science, and might I add, effective. No soup for you if you leave that vaccine card back at the hotel, so bring it because the soup and everything else is consistently good. The Thai restaurant on our last night was fantastic and as I often do, I documented the entrees and their eaters in this video, below. 

Biking in Brooklyn

We rode Citi Bikes this trip, the regular vs pedal-assist kind, which are more plentiful and less expensive, and the four of us meandered around Brooklyn following Benjamin, who toured us around his old and new neighborhoods. There are numerous bike lanes and despite the many cars, scooters and people, I felt safer riding here than I do in Atlanta because motorists and pedestrians expect to see you and make room. The boys eventually rode back to the apartment, and Joe and I to our Brooklyn hotel to check out before heading to our Manhattan hotel.

The yellow basket

On the way there, whizzing past a park on the right, I noticed a basket vendor set up on the sidewalk. A gorgeous yellow basket caught my eye and I couldn’t stop looking at it, still cycling and now craning my neck to study it. We turned around and I went and bought the thing for a price the seller reduced, and after he bagged it, I flung it over my handlebar for the bike ride home. It’s here now home with me, and I love its story and the happenstance of finding it. It has notes of yellow, my favorite color, and against the blue wall in my bedroom, it feels like a happy summer day. 

Sure was fun while it lasted!

The season is changing and so is my hair. For six months, I’ve had the hair I’ve always dreamed of. You can feel it in the shower, that thick plumped up cuticle, that cocky energized hair follicle oozing oomph in spades. The only downside is it takes forever to dry, yet when it does there are loose ringlets forming exactly where you want them (in the very places chemo left bald). You can go to bed with it wet and wake up with natural tousled tresses requiring zero brushing, and if you bother to pull out a hair dryer, there are countless more versions of goodness you can create. 

That gorgeous soufflé that’s been rising on my head for months, however, is now falling. Not sure who opened the oven door, but suddenly gravity has pulled that light spirited dollop of a do down. There are plenty of strands still but seems we’re back to my former head of hair, to the scalp and ears peep show behind the whisper soft strands hanging close to my head. I’m told those chemo curls eventually go away, and by my December haircut or the one after that, they will be nearly gone. 

What to make of it all? When I found myself fresh off of chemo and radiation and with a bald head in places (which surprised me how cold that would feel in winter), I think the Universe decided to give me a little boost with thicker hair. The same thing happened after birthing babies, when lost in the haze of fatigue, a colicky baby and breast pumping, there was that gift of cleavage, a “Here’s the cup size you thought you’d always be, happy dressing with your new look” little bonus. When you’ve had enough time with this new do and physique and gotten caught up on your sleep and distanced yourself from treatment, the Universe reminds you, “I’m gonna take it back now because you don’t need it anymore. Someone else could use this little perk.” I chalk it up to it is to better to have had curls and cleavage and lost them than to have never had them at all. Besides, in the midst of so much change, returning to who you were physically is surprisingly reassuring. 

Show me a better lunch.
Waiting on a show, and the show is the street below

We made the most of our last day away walking miles around Chelsea and up on the Highline, followed by lunch at Chelsea Market. It was in the 50s and windy on our long walk and we earned that lunch, one of those decadent meals you shouldn’t splurge on, but you do, because why not? The Lobster Place Fish Market had it all and we had the lobster roll, a folded crispy buttery bun chock full of lobster meat tossed in a light lemony mayo, clam chowder and lobster bisque, and Zapp’s chips. I swallowed mine down with a glass of champagne. A delicious finish to this little getaway as we headed toward home. 

View below from the High Line. Hopeful.