Bookishophile

Before WordPress crashed, I had a significant post written about my bookishophile persona and its birth. I will rewrite it later, but until then, in summary: for only my book reviews, follow me over here. Your support is appreciated!

P.S. Thanks a lot for sucking out, WP.

Stop Signs Are Not Suggestions

I met a seemingly delightful woman named Carol the week before last. I have been meaning to write about the encounter for several days now, but I have been struggling to find the time to blog between work, the usual adulting tasks, and stepping up to help various members of my family more. Since the systems are currently down at work, I may as well put my time to use. I’ve already used the gym for an hour, and since it was a light cardio day, I was able to read my Kindle while walking on the treadmill. When I read while walking, I enlarge the print to gigantically ginormous. If a stranger were to take a peek into my Kindle, they would assume that I’m 97 years old with glaucoma. In summary, I’ve been paid today to: exercise, read, and blog.

Though Carol seems to be a delightful woman, she has really messed me up. You see, Carol and I met as I was leaving work. Between the Coronavirus and protesting, work has been extra . . . busy, stressful, crazy? None of these adjectives summarize it well. Granted, I know that the afore listed are issues that are important and affect just about everyone, some more than others, but I digress. As I was writing . . . I was leaving work after a draining day. I just wanted to get home, but I made it only two streets away from before Carol wanted to meet me so badly, she slammed her car into mine; Carol T-boned me like she was the protagonist in a plot about murder for hire. I was minding my own business, traveling along a one-way street where I had the right of way, listening to my new audiobook that I was granted permission to read via NetGalley (shout out to NetGalley and Alex North, author of The Shadows!), when BANG, CRUNCH, BOOM. Apparently, Carol thought the stop sign AND the flashing, red traffic light were mere suggestions. She blew through the intersection (well, not really since I was in her way) like the signage and signal weren’t even there.

Carol knew she done effed up right away because she was yelling, “Sorry!” out of her window almost immediately after impact. The witness, a pedestrian who crossed the street moments before Carol blew through the crosswalk, called 9-1-1. I made the appropriate phone calls indicating I was going to be late getting home and letting my loved ones know that I’m not damaged, only my car is. However, that is a lie because I am damaged a bit. Remember reading that Carol really messed me up? I am terrified to drive now. I have such heightened anxiety driving , that I am in tears by the time I get to my destination, and I spend the majority of my day fearful of the next time I need to get behind the wheel.

Despite Carol nearly destroying my car, her experience was far worse than mine. I mean, my car is in bad shape, and I mean B-A-D shape – just terrible! I very riskily and cautiously drove my batmobile (bat as in battered) home. My original idea was to park it back at work and get a ride home, but I did not want to wait for someone to come pick me up. My commute is 45+ minutes so that is a long wait for someone who already wanted to be home. So, why was Carol’s experience worse than mine, when we went through basically the same incident? Well, for one, I imagine her insurance premium will be on the rise considering they need to pay for my damages, her damages, and my rental, which apparently, I will have for quite some time; it’s been nearly two weeks since the accident, and the parts that have been ordered to repair my car won’t be received for at least a week. The collision center employee said that my estimate “so far” is about $4,000.

Carol’s collision became worse than mine when we learned, after an officer backed my car up in order to determine whose car was leaking fluids, that she never put her car in park. So, off went her car, destined to cause more destruction in its wake. Mind you, this was at an intersection so there were cars stopped at the sign / light across the way from Carol’s oncoming, unoccupied motor vehicle. The SUV was stopped mere inches away from another vehicle, mere moments before hitting a bystander’s car head-on. After the rogue vehicle was reigned in, Carol backed into the secondary officer, and then she almost hit a man on a bicycle. Carol had a very bad day.

Overall, it has not been a pleasant experience. Dealing with the insurance has been a chore, and because I am forced to face my newfound anxiety head-on (heyyyyo!), I am drained and emotional and just . . . I am fatigued.

If I had met Carol under any other circumstance, I think I would like her. This sentiment is not to imply that I do not like her, for I don’t know her; we happened to cross paths. Carol seems like a nice lady, but there are numerous kind people who are bad at driving.

In all seriousness though, it really takes just one moment, one split second to change you / your life. When I watched the video of the accident, I realized that it was a matter of nanoseconds that determined that I walked away unharmed; Carol could have (and almost) seriously harmed me or worse. It’s terrifying to think about, really.

Stop signs are not suggestions; don’t be a Carol.

COVID Blather

This may be the most adult I have ever been, tbh.  Physically, I am clearly a grown-up.  Mentally?  Eh, not so much.  The general joke is that I am 12 due to my undying love for glitter, pink, unicorns, and “kid” crafts.  I like perler beads and loom bands and duct tape, but I do some bad@$$ things with these supplies, if I do say so myself.

On the 17th of March, it came to light that I, along with several of my colleagues, were possibly exposed to COVID-19.  My anxiety level, due to this Novel Coronavirus, is . . . not great (understatement of the year).  I assist in caring for my aged (83) Gma, and my own Mum has chronic illnesses and a compromised immune system; on my most anxious of days, I think that this could wipe out my entire family.  My anxiety waxes and wanes, and I assume this is typical for the majority.

Luckily, the man who potentially exposed myself and a handful of others to the virus, he tested negative for Coronavirus.  On the afternoon of the 17th, I was dismissed from work, on administrative leave, until further notice.  On the 19th, I was informed that the test of the ill was negative, but that I had been assigned to work from home until further notice.  How fortunate I am to a) still have my job, b) have the ability to work from home so I do not have to absolutely obliterate my sick and vacation time, and c) remain adequately distant from the public.  Of note, I am innately an introvert.  Social distancing is second nature to me.  In fact, I’m such an introvert and so socially distant, I bet it’s even first nature to me.

On the bright side, for the first time in all of my years, my behavior is socially acceptable!  I’m no longer socially awkward because I’m bad at or don’t want to make small talk – I’m respectful of others’ space.  No longer am I snobby or bitchy because I don’t want to socialize in a crowd or shake a stranger’s hand – I’m now cautious.  This is all tongue in cheek, folks.  I know that the virus is serious.  If I did not know just how serious COVID-19 is, I wouldn’t have anxiety about it, now would I?

I do feel that the majority of people lie on either end of the spectrum.  One end of the spectrum being those who are panic shopping and hoarding, and the other end of the spectrum being those who aren’t worried about Corona because “it’s just a cold.”  If the former could dial it back a few notches and the latter could dial it up a few notches, thus the two schools of thought meeting somewhere in the middle, I think we’d all fare better.

. . . but back to my original statement pertaining to my adulting abilities.  Working from home means I don’t have to commute one and a half hours each day.  Holy newfound free time!  Currently, I don’t have to get up at 0400hrs just to complete the morning tasks, get ready, and get to the station by 0700hrs.  I showered at 0651hrs this morning, and I was still working by my scheduled start time.  During my short breaks, I get the laundry done and / or the dishes done.  During my longer break, I get dinner prepared and / or some baking done.  My house is spotless and more organized than ever before.  I have mastered the art of maintaining a routine, both housework wise and work wise!  There are certainly challenges to working from home, but I am getting so much done due to the lack of multiple interruptions, yet I miss those interruptions.  Though shy, I think I may be more social than I realized.  Although I do tend to be lonely with only my thoughts to keep me company throughout the day, I will never take for granted just how fortunate I am to be working.

Mind you, I am writing this on a day where my anxiety is mild and manageable.  My thought process tends to be a little more clouded when my brain is freaking the eff out.  BUT even when my thoughts are out of control, I still don’t take for granted my blessings: as of right now, I am healthy, my family is healthy, and my friends are healthy.  As of right now, I remain employed.  As of right now, I may not have the physical closeness of my IRL friends, but I have some wonderful connections with people I’ve “met” via the interwebs.  Finally, the extra time spent with my Radin has been nourishing to my heart and soul, and it seems to benefit him as well because extra potty breaks!

This is a worldwide mess.  A complete and utter and absolute shitshow of a mess.  It is hard now, and it may be hard for a while yet, but we will get through this.  My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced loss due to this virus.  My heart goes out to everyone who is experiencing depression, anxiety, and fear.  This is damn hard.  We will get through this.

 

B2B – Not For Me?

Ah, the coveted, annual Beach to Beacon registration!  For the past two years, 2018 and 2019, I was fortunate and snagged a spot when registration opened.  This year?  Not so much.

In 2019, public registrations sold out in 13 minutes.  Yesterday, the slots were filled in 17 minutes.  Annually, registration opens at 0700; I am fully aware of and familiar with the enrollment process.  However, yesterday, I played space cadet until shortly after 0800.  So, yeah . . . no guaranteed spot for me, and I knew so the instant I realized that I had forgotten B2B sign-up day.  When I looked at the clock upon my realization, I was a minimum of 43 minutes too late.

I entered the lottery.  The reality is, I may have ended up in the lottery even if I had remembered to enter the registration queue on time.  My fingers and toes are crossed as I have not had the best of luck in runners’ lotteries; for the second consecutive year, I did not win a NYC marathon spot.  Life is fraught with disappointment(s), but luckily, my blessings outweigh my setbacks so I’m not doleful.  I may not get to run in this year’s Beach to Beacon, but I will try again in 2021 – same applies to the NYC marathon spot!

Coming soon . . .

How my best friend moved out-of-state without saying goodbye.

 

 

 

Oh, the Unmitigated Gall!

My resolution for 2020 was (is) to let the ickiness of 2019 be but a distant memory.  Fade away in my rearview, ickiness!  #byefelicia.  However, there are aspects of ’19 that will crop up, but that’s the nature of grief.  I have lovely new tenants moving in next month.  In fact, their moving has helped me to cope with my best friend’s imminent moving from ME to TN.  However, this post is NOT about that; I will likely elaborate in a future write-up.  So, my attitude for the past 30 days has been much improved; as I indicated in yesterday’s blurb, I’m hopeful.  My line of thought has been OKay, this is still hard right now, but think about what you have to look ahead to.

Having an empty rental for two years was a severe blow squared.  Just think, to lose that income for 24 months!  Also, to fix the damages the previous tenants left and to perform the updates that needed to be done . . . Well, both have left the crippling burden of (lots of) debt in addition to the normal debts: education loan payments, vehicle payments, food, etc.  Although most of my bills are late, and I have accumulated oodles of debt, I am able to see the dob of light at the end of the tunnel.  The rental is now (SO) gorgeous and entirely new bottom to top, top to bottom, with lovely new occupants on their way!

This morning, I opened up a credit card statement that I was not going to bother with.  I knew that my last purchase was heating oil for both “sides” of my house (my home and the rental portion).  Have you ever heard that voice in your mind, that thought that doesn’t quite belong to you?  Well, I’ve heard that subtle and disjointed whisper many times, and the one time I didn’t listen, I learned to always, always, ALWAYS listen.  I opened the CC statement, and it was very obviously . . . compromised.  The balance far exceeded what I knew to be the true balance.

Here’s the thing though . . .  Deep down (OKay, so not deep down – it was really only a surface thought), I know that I have never been out to California, and I have not been to New York since 2018, but I kind of sort of questioned my whereabouts for a brief moment.  The charges are all food purchases, mainly bakeries, out of CA and NY.  My first instinct was to raise my arms to the skies and ask, “WHHHYYYYY MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!????” but I did not, nor will I because the answer is, “Why not?”  There are X number of people each day, from all walks of life, that fall victim to someone else’s asshattery.  The likelihood that it was going to be me, at some point, was / is . . .  “pretty good.”  <~~~ As a crime analyst, that is indeed my professional opinion.  I also refuse to ask, “What next!?”  I’ve asked that question before, and there’s always an answer.  For example, in (what I thought would be) finishing the rental, there was flooding in the basement, which was never an issue before.  “What next!?” was asked, and a giant oak tree fell on the house.  That’s another story . . .

Note to self / future topics

  • Callie moving
  • The tale of the fallen oak and the mighty birch
  • Dogs

But I digress . . .

So, my credit card number was stolen and used to the tune of well over $1,000 dollars.  I assume all of these food purchases were online orders because I have the physical card in my possession.  Well, the shredder has the card in its belly – just a little snickety snackity to warm it up for the day’s feeding.  I called my CC company, and they were surprisingly helpful.  I have checked all of my other statements, accounts, etc., which I will continue to monitor closely, and all is well.  This situation could have been far worse, and I acknowledge that.  Currently, it’s at level annoyance.  My initial instinct was to panic, and I did to some degree – my hands were shaking while I was on the phone sorting this mess out.  Ultimately, I don’t have to pay for the fraudulent charges, the account has been closed, and someone (or someones) have full and happy bellies . . . probably full of cupcakes . . .

But seriously!?  How can you even enjoy eating your In N Out Burger meal, your bakery delights, all while opening your Etsy purchases?  Whoever you may be, you’re kind of a dick, but I know it could have been far worse so thank you for not being worse . . . you’re just the right amount of asshole – your mama must be so very proud.

 

 

Who Wants Happy Mail?

2019 was a brutal year, and I know that I am not alone in that sentiment.  I faced many a difficult situation, all of which were beyond my control, circumstances completely and utterly out of my hands.  In addition to these difficult situations, I was just not . . . ME.  I spent the last year (literally a year) spinning my wheels.  My creativity suffered, and as a result, I barely crafted, I barely wrote.  I ran in my races, but I wasn’t bursting with joy and pride when I crossed the finish line(s).  I ceased my gym rat behavior and my healthy food choices, and as a result, I gained a few pounds, which put my already chaotic mental state into another tailspin entirely.  Remnants of 2019 linger, but I am insistent that 2020 be better.  I am not one to celebrate New Year’s, but I woke up on January 1st weighing lighter, breathing easier, and feeling . . . hopeful.

29 days into this year, and I am already feeling more myself.  I have 100 miles on my soles, I’m creating a new and improved gym routine, and my eating is once again under control (no emotional eating, choices are better and appropriate, etc.).  I am hydrated.  I am sleeping.  I am not depressed.  I’m keeping up with household chores.  Mostly, I have once again honed in on my desire to make others smile, and I long to create happy mail.

I am conscious that I remain “behind” in responding to pen pal letters, I have postcards due out for Postcrossing, and I have deadlines to meet for swap-bot.  However, there are occasions when I feel inspired to write, to create, to send happy mail . . . but with no deadline, no guidelines or requirements, and no expectation from the recipient.  Therefore, I have created a Google form to assist me in just that (click below)!

HAPPY, HAPPY MAIL Y’ALL

The above link will direct you to said form – it is a request for basic information that will allow me to send happy mail your way.  With that being said, I should note that it’s not a promise or a guarantee – this is an I’ll do / try my best.  I will not notify you that postal bliss is journeying your way, it will just one day be there – SURPRISE!  I’ve requested to know likes and dislikes so I can tailor your mail experience the best I can.  Of note, there is no expectation to send me something in return.  If you would like to maybe one day receive a piece of mail from me, please take a moment to complete the above questionnaire.

Q: “Why the form?”

A: If I do not (already) know you via a site that features a detailed profile, I will not have to cyber stalk you to learn that your favorite color is chartreuse and that you’re afraid of jerboas.  If I do (already) know you via swap-bot, sendsomething, Postcrossing, etc., I won’t have to request your address (thus spoiling the surprise), nor will I have to scroll through days of information.

 

TL;DR: Sometimes, my creative juices floweth over, and I long to create mail art, an ATC, or write. When I am feeling particularly inspired, maybe you will be the recipient of some random, unexpected happy mail!

Commit To Blip

Between 0500 and 0700, my mind has been racing with a multitude of swirling and whirling thoughts.  Inside my mind, there is a cacophony of noise.  If I were to picture the inner workings of my mind in the style of a cartoon, the image would be comprised of disembodied words tangled in a tornado – just an absolute ruckus.

My Gma is going blind.  We (“we” = my family), not even a year ago, moved Gma into an apartment closer to Mum and I.  My parents and I live across the street from one another, and Nana’s apartment is only a mile or so away from either of our homes.  My Mum is now faced with the prospect of placing her.  We, as a family unit, were confident that Nana would thrive living alone and independently, especially where she has assistance with showers and housework, for a few hours, Monday – Friday.  Mum cooks meals, and I drop them off.  I pick up and wash the laundry, take the trash out as needed, and we stop in and visit as we can; I oftentimes pop in during a run.  Between my parents, myself, her hired help, and my Aunt Nancy, we have been able to work together to make this arrangement successful.  However, Nana is still currently alone for the majority of the time.  Gma’s 82 and has a smorgasbord of health issues; her losing her vision entirely will make it unsafe for her to continue living independently.  My heart goes out to my Gma, but my heart breaks for my Mum.  With all issues between my Gma and I aside, it’s my Mum’s mother, and I know it must be painful for Mum to experience her sole living parent’s decline in health, especially at this magnitude.  What makes it even more difficult for Mum is that she has been groomed, for (literally) the past 30 years, to feel guilty with any decision she makes, even when it is the best one for Gma.  “You only have one mother.”  Couple this statement with years of reminders from Nana that placing her will break her heart and kill her.  Pair those reminders with the promise that she will haunt my mother when she (Gma) dies.  My mind and heart are currently at odds and duking it out because characteristically, I’m a compassionate and sensitive person, but I am also filled with anger at the way my Mum has been set up to feel as though she has failed her parents.  I volcalized a painful yet truthful observation, indicating that if roles were reversed, Nana would place my Mum in a heartbeat and not think twice about it.  Nana placed her own mother, my Gramps, and two women she was POA for.  This outline of events is by no means an attempt to paint my Nana in a negative light because she has wonderful qualities too.  I have shared these dynamics as a means to pictate the complexities of an already difficult situation and decision to be made.

It was with aforementioned swirling and whirling thoughts that I idled in the Dunkin’ drive-thru this morning anxiously anticipating that blessed first sip of my iced, caramel swirl, black; the woman in front of me paid for my coffee.  Most days, because I witness and am exposed to the underbelly of society as a whole, I forget how poignant the gesture of a cup of coffee can truly be.  Now, I am not so jaded that I will claim that my faith in humanity has been restored due to a cup of java, for my faith in humanity has never been lost.  The world is indeed a brutal place to reside, but there does exist goodness, there are kindnesses.  Perhaps we spend so much time searching for the grand gestures, that we miss out on the small ones (and those add up!).  If you are reading this, do something kind today for someone else, no matter how small it may seem to you.  This morning, paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee was likely just a blip on that woman’s radar, but it wasn’t just a blip to me.  Her gesture made my heart swell, when mere moments before, I was arduously trying to calm my thoughts and keep my tears from spilling over.  Stop for the pedestrian trying to cross the street, let a car ahead of you in traffic, send happy mail to a stranger . . . the possibilities are infinite!  Seek the kindness you desire with not only open eyes but with an open heart.  In turn, sprinkle kindness around like glitter.  There is much truth in the adage, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  The universe will put those people, who need your kindness the most, in your path . . .

COMMIT TO BLIP

 

 

Ride With Me

“If you want to go and take a ride with me [. . .]” – Nelly

My department is perpetually understaffed, it is notoriously difficult to hire to capacity, and even when it would appear that all of the slots have been filled, someone a) drops out of the academy, b) gets injured and is out of work or on light duty for (what seems like) eons, c) quits, or d) retires.  By “department,” I mean the police department as a whole, not my department of analysis, which, BTW, is at its maximum capacity with its overworked, stressed, and under appreciated employee.  Yes, employee in the singular.  Me.  Just me.  There is one person providing crime data and analytics to not only the entire staff within my PD, but to outside agencies and individuals from all levels (municipal, state, federal, etc.) as well. Believe you me, just about every in-house individual needs something from me on a daily basis; these requests are in addition to the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports and statistics that are expected from me.

The joke around here is that even after over six years, I have yet to be “broken.”  Am I jaded?  A bit.  I mean, I see some shit, and I’ve taken some shit.  You have not lived until you’ve had someone double your size, who you don’t even know, screaming at you to not look at them because they hate you, trying to get to you through bulletproof glass.  Note: “You have not lived until [ . . . ]” is purely for dramatic effect.  I am well aware that a plethora of people encounter far, far worse.  I just want to reiterate that I am a civilian employee so my interaction with this person was no more than giving them a smile as I walked by the lobby window.  I had even given them my last bottle of water to help calm them down when they first entered the lobby, clearly in distress.  Weeks later, I gave a lost dog my last bottle of water.  I think the dog was more appreciative . . .

I’m known around the station for being happy, for always smiling, for being bright, shiny and glittery, as well as easily amused.  I am also known as the office’s MacGyver, but that’s another story.  I’m referred to as “Happy Amy,” “Sunshine,” etc.  So, as I was writing in the above paragraph, the running joke is that even after many not so pleasant experiences, the amount of stress and pressure that I face daily, and the overall negative environment, I’m still all of those things I listed; to recapitulate: “for being happy, for always smiling, for being bright, shiny and glittery, as well as easily amused.”

Now that the background has been established . . .

A random individual strolled into the lobby yesterday morning and requested a ride-along with an officer.  I jokingly told an officer, who happened to be standing nearby, that it appeared he was about to be assigned a ride-along, to which he essentially replied, “NO.”  This is the same officer who, when I was a brandy new hire, retorted, “Great!” when I enthusiastically asked, “How’s it going today!?!”  I then overheard him tell a lunchroom full of people, “Actually, it’s been really shitty, but she’s just so nice, I didn’t have the heart to tell her.”

Continuing on . . .

After this officer said, “NO,” a colleague in the records department responded with, “Take Amy for a ride-along!”  The officer misunderstood this suggestion and stated, “YES!  Let people ride along with Amy . . . then everyone would want to work here; we’d have a line out the door!”  Not only was I amused, I was deeply flattered, for I truly do try to be a positive presence here.  This officer’s remark confirmed that for the most part, I’m successful in my attempts to bring some overt happy into our workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas I That Arted

I have alluded to but not provided much detail about my recent stint with driving the struggle bus.  Seriously, it’s been nearly a year of . . . “meh.”  Since November of 2018, I have just been unable to “get it together.”  I have written zero response letters to the pile of mail I have received from pen pals, I neglected Postcrossing until about a month ago, I have been completing only one or two swaps per month via swap-bot, I’ve traded a mere handful of patches, and I have run only 450 miles since January 1st.  I have so many projects that remain unfinished: the contents of a parcel I intended to mail in April remains unpackaged, a half completed quilt intended to be a house warming present is now for a home that is no longer new, so on and so forth.  Even my blog has been a victim of my neglect in that I have not written about my runs, for though my training has been subpar in comparison to past years, I have still been showing up to my races.  I think the only aspect of my life that has not suffered from my “meh” is my reading; my Goodreads goal for the year is 67 books, and I am currently at 54 read.  I have also been less “on top of” certain tasks at work as well, but I attribute (some of) that to a bit of head butting with a superior.  There was a period of time where I dreaded coming to work; I even interviewed for a position elsewhere, but I realized shortly into that meeting that the (new) position was not an ideal fit.

Over the past few weeks, I have started to feel better, more myself, and by “myself,” I mean more like the me of a year ago, before I got behind the wheel of the struggle bus and put the pedal to the metal.  I have even found some inspiration to create for the sake of creating.  The ATCs and postcards below are not for particular swaps and have no ulterior purpose; I just felt like . . . arting.  Approximately two weeks ago, I completed my fitness objective of earning my Fitbit goal daily for 30 days.  With two more races left this year, I have been longing to fall in love with running again.  This is not to imply that I no longer love the sport, but I have not been as dedicated to or excited by running as I once was . . . until I’m crossing the finish line.  Crossing a finish line inspires me to keep going, to keep trying until the next race, but then I do not maintain that desire . . . until the next finish line is fast(ish) approaching.  (I’m not fast).

A step in the right direction toward finding the (better version of) myself has been spending time in my craft room and workspace with no guidelines and no deadlines hanging over my head or stifling my creativity.  Below, for those of you who do not follow my Instagram account, are photos of some of the artist trading cards (ATCs) and postcards I have been making.

After my final runs of the 2019 “season,” I will compile the photos and thoughts I have been collecting and share them in one post.  September 28th is the Dempsey Challenge 10K and October 6th is the Maine (half) Marathon.  Anyone who wants to follow my progress during the latter race, as I traverse the 13-mile course, there’s an app for that!  Let me know of your interest, and I will provide you with the app name and my bib number.

In summary should you have chosen to skim-read . . .

I have been sucking, and I no longer want to suck.

The Gypsy

 

Potions

 

Henry

 

Freud

Note: I am well aware that the paper doll I chose for my Freud PC (postcard) is not Sigmund, but the doll looked similar enough, that I took some artistic liberties / poetic license and used it anyways.

Best Costume

MY Stint in MO

Mum and I travel together each year.  Last year and the year before, we went to New York City.  This year, we planned two short trips, one to Charleston, South Carolina in April and another to Branson, Missouri in September.  Unfortunately, the trip to South Carolina was canceled in order to move my Gma closer to us.  I have quite literally just returned from MO.  Well, not so much on the “literally” as I returned on the 15th, a day early, but I will get to that.

MO has some of the nicest people I have ever met.  Seriously, Missourians (is that correct?) are so kind, they are at that level of nice you see in movie portrayals.  I’ve heard from many that Maine people are some of the rudest they have ever encountered, but being a lifelong Mainer, I disagree.  However, I do know that Mainers have a way about them, and if you’re not “from here,” it can easily be interpreted as abrasive.

The travel to MO was very difficult on Mum, more so than we had anticipated.  I’d be lying if I claimed to not be exhausted from the travel day myself, and I don’t have the physical limitations and chronic pain that Mum does.  A very kind gentleman observed that we were disheveled, dazed af, and kind of . . . lost.  We flew into the Springfield airport, which was an hour away from our hotel in Branson.  The options were to rent a car or find a cab.  We quickly settled upon the taxi option because at that point, I was at such a level of tired, the car would have ended up in a ditch or as a ball of flaming wreckage within moments of pulling out of the car’s parking spot.  The aforementioned man clearly thought we were a bit nutty to take a cab for an hour instead of renting a car, but he could also see the exasperated desperation of two weary travelers who just want to be on their way, who just want to reach their final destination.

Jimmy, an equally delightful man, willingly and emphatically drove us from Springfield to Branson, and upon parting ways, he provided us with his phone number should we need him to pick us up for our return trip to the airport.  (Spoiler: Jimmy did indeed receive that SOS phone call).  We checked into the hotel close to midnight, but it felt even later considering the time change (from eastern to central OR an hour behind if you’re not familiar with my originating time zone).  I ate a Pop-Tart for dinner and went to bed immediately.  A Pop-Tart is not the recommended supper for a dieting woman, but there was no room service, and I did not want to wait upwards of an hour for delivery, assuming anything was open at that time of day . . . er, night.

Due to the lay of the land and essentially zero places to rest (benches, coffee shops, parks, etc.), we stuck close to the hotel Friday and Saturday.  Note: I am well aware that all of these things exist and are available (benches, coffee shops, parks, etc.), but when you travel with someone with pain and mobility issues, nearby has an entirely different definition than it does for a healthy person.  Please, no one get your undies in a bunch if you think I am insulting Branson, for I am not.  I’m merely attempting to convey / show the difficulties someone may face when these things aren’t within one’s immediate vicinity.

Anyways, it was Friday night that I inquired about changing our flight(s) and going home a day early.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Mum – it was nice to “get away” as we have had some hard times on the homefront as of late.  However, I knew that if the travel home was going to be a repeat of getting there, I would need a day to rest in order to function for my return to work.  Boy, was I right!  I spent almost the entirety of yesterday in bed; I could not even muster the energy to drag myself into the shower.

Overall, I enjoyed my few days of vacation because Mum and I always make the best of our situation, but I do think we are much better suited for NYC (or vice versa) when we go away together.  In NY, there is an endless number of “things” to do, a plethora of places she can rest, and where I am familiar with the city, I can venture off if she needs to nap or take a day off from adventuring and doing.  Most applicable, the weather out this way is much more tolerable than it was in MO.  My body just does not adapt well to high temperatures, especially when it’s one million percent humidity.  Even the humidity in Maine, come August, is brutal and unbearable – hence why Beach to Beacon is such a struggle for me (though I did improve my B2B 10K time by 2 minutes this year!).

There’s an ongoing joke between myself and a friend / colleague that my hair is the barometer for the best candy making days.  Apparently, successful candy making depends on the humidity.  The bigger and frizzier my hair gets, the worse the day is for making candy.  I was not the only one in MO with frizzy hair, which made me wonder how / if anyone in Missouri makes fudge, ever.

Thanks to a swap-bot friend who lives in St. Louis, I was (somewhat) prepared for the heat and humidity.  Thanks to Google, I was aware that we were likely going to be “stuck” in one place with little to do.  Thanks to movies, I expected mid-westerners to be outgoing and (almost over the top) friendly.  Another note: I do not mean “over the top” in a negative way in this context; I am sincere as can be about the genuine kindness of strangers.

What I was NOT prepared for or expecting . . .

There was far more  blue eye shadow in MO than I could fathom.