The Monday After

The Monday after Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite days of the year. After a wonderfully long, cozy weekend of nesting at home with my family, this is the day on which we emerge, blinking in the bright light of day, and attempt to carry on with our normal lives. I love the Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of my favorite holidays because it’s all about spending time with family and friends. It’s all about laughing and doing things for others and just taking the time to LIVE and LOVE. I feel like Thanksgiving actually is what Christmas should be. The problem is that Christmas often gets too caught up in the materialistic parts of life and stress-inducing “to do” lists and things like that. It shouldn’t be this way, but it often feels harder to keep Christmas pure. To keep it about family and friends and love and all the beautiful things in our lives.

I love having my daughter home from school. I love the way our normal schedules stop for a few days: no sports practices, no music lessons, no homework, no after-school activities, no appointments. There is time for lingering over tea and a snack at a favorite restaurant. There is time for seeing a movie … or two … or three. There is time to sleep in a little bit and take a road trip. Time is something we don’t have nearly enough of during our regular weeks. I feel like we are always busy running from one thing to another, and I’m always trying to get stuff done (like laundry or making dinner or walking the dogs) in between errands. It’s a stressful and frazzling way to live.

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I love that my husband doesn’t go to work. The Thanksgiving holiday means I have a lovely chunk of time with him, too. We get to go for coffee or breakfast. We can laugh at each other’s stupid jokes. We can cuddle in bed while watching a movie. We can talk about our hopes and our dreams. We can go for long walks. We have time to reconnect. I think this is one of my very favorite things about Thanksgiving. My husband and I don’t see a lot of each other during the week. He works long hours, and I am usually running our daughter from place to place. We can sometimes grab ten or twenty minutes together, if we are lucky. But we are usually both too tired to talk or connect. I don’t think this means we have a bad marriage. On the contrary, I think we have a strong and solid marriage. I think we just have too much going on in our lives. Or, maybe, we live in a place that is too “go go go” all the time.

There is something so precious and perfect about having my whole family — husband, daughter, and two dogs — all camping out under one roof for several days. The four days of Thanksgiving feel like the most precious gift. My heart feels full, and my soul feels content. Everything I need is right here, right where I want it to be. I love the sounds of my house when everyone is here. I even love it when we all get in each other’s way. I wish I could describe it better, but I can’t seem to find the perfect words for it. It’s that feeling you get when you think your heart might just flutter away with you because you are so happy. It’s that feeling  you have when you just NEED to hug someone — anyone! Or, maybe, you would wrap the whole world in a big bear hug, if your arms were big enough. It is warmth and coziness and happiness and all the things.

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Inevitably, it has to come to an end. I know this, and I dread it somewhere deep inside. I dread it even as I am humming along, feeling happy and content with the beginning of the long weekend. Because Monday is lurking out there, just around the corner. Today, we all went our separate ways. My husband went to work. My daughter went to school. I walked the dogs and had to make a last-minute run to the grocery store so I could put dinner into the crockpot in time for it to cook. There was a late appointment and my daughter’s class at church. Tomorrow will be a doctor’s appointment in the morning, after school activities, allergy shots for me,  and a flute lesson in the evening. Wednesday and Thursday will bring late-night basketball practice. Our busy week is starting off with a bang, steam-rolling right over us as usual. And yet, there are the memories of that beautiful, four-day Thanksgiving weekend to keep me going. I think it might be just enough.

A Road Trip

This morning, my husband woke up, looked at me, and said, “Do you want to go to Charlottesville?” Charlottesville is about two and a half or three hours away from where we live. So, what he was really suggesting was quite clear: ROAD TRIP!!

I’m a big fan of road trips. I love going to a new place, or to a place that’s not really “new” to me, but that remains unexplored. I love traveling there via car. I love taking the more scenic and roundabout ways to get there. In Texas, which is where both my husband and I are from, road trips are a big part of life. Most things are pretty spread out, and you wouldn’t even think twice about traveling three or four hours to get from one location to another. We used to road trip all the time. Back then, we were young and a lot more spontaneous. We didn’t have a child, so we didn’t have as many responsibilities or schedules as we do now. We did have a dog — my much-loved and very-missed Springer, Tex — but he loved going in the car. We would load him up and hit the road at a moment’s notice.

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I think we have become a bit lazy and spoiled during our Virginia years. Now, if we have to travel even twenty or thirty minutes from our home, we complain about how “It’s soooooo far away and takes sooooooo long to get there.” I know. We have become a bit pathetic in our old age. In our defense, Northern Virginia has horrible traffic. Traveling to a place that is supposed to be thirty minutes from home can sometimes take forty-five minutes. Sometimes, it can take an hour. Also, there are a lot of really crummy and aggressive drivers in this area of the country. Everyone seems to be in a big hurry all the time, and they don’t mind running right over you to be the first person to get to that next red light down the road.

Traveling by car isn’t nearly as fun or carefree when you feel like you’re traveling right into the danger zone. It becomes a stressful and sometimes frightening experience. You can control your own car and  your own actions. But you can’t control the crazy person who is road-raging away in the car next to yours. When you multiply that person by a gazillion, you realize you are surrounded by crazy, and you just feel like giving up. And staying home. With the doors and windows locked.

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Today, we made the decision to put our cares on hold, to forget our responsibilities for the day, and to hit the highways and byways of Virginia. We took the roads less traveled, winding through beautiful mountains showing their autumn color and little towns that were already starting to decorate for the Christmas holiday. Since it’s the middle of a holiday weekend, traffic was fairly light. In Texas, we might have gone hours without seeing another car, depending on exactly where we were. That didn’t happen today, but we went several minutes at a time without encountering our fellow motorists. There were tiny little stretches where we could pretend we were the only intrepid explorers in our corner of the universe.

We stopped off at cute little country stores to do some  Christmas shopping. We detoured for soft serve ice cream. We paused along the way to hunt for Pokemon. We admired the beautiful state in which we live. The day was cloudy and a bit gray, but with sunshine peeking through every now and again. The fall colors around us seemed so vibrant and bright, and the clouds made the most amazing designs in the sky. There were piles and piles of moody, gray-blue clouds. They were fantastic with the sunlight dancing through them. We saw barns that were tumbling down and covered with vines. We saw neatly kept farms with perfect, white fences and cows grazing in the fields. We told jokes and funny stories. We listened to favorite songs. Sometimes, we even sang along.

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It was a meandering kind of day. Sure, we set out this morning with a plan and a schedule in mind. And yet, no one seemed particularly upset when our schedule somehow fell by the wayside mere hours into our trip. As the sun began to set and we turned our car toward home, where we knew two hungry pups were waiting for their overdue dinner, my husband jokingly commented that we spent too much time “dicking around”. Next time, he said, we needed to be more focussed on getting to our final destination so that we have more time to look around.

It’s a good thought. But the next time we head out on a road trip, we will do the same thing we did today. We will detour and slow down and wander around a bit aimlessly.  We will stop for snacks and ice cream and interesting little stores on the side of the road. We will spend time staring at the scenery and taking pictures. In short, we will “dick” around. Every single time. He knows this, as do I. And, no matter what he says, I know he doesn’t mind in the least. With a road trip, the point really isn’t your final destination. It’s the journey. Today, we did more than zip from Point A to Point B. Today, we took our time. And that’s the most precious gift of all.

 

The Day Before

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Today was one of those days that feels like it is full of festive promise and excitement. School let out early. We are all looking forward to a nice, long, four-day weekend. My husband and I spent most of the morning running last-minute errands, which should have been annoying but wasn’t. We laughed together and enjoyed the time we had. My daughter’s evening activities were cancelled. She and I took advantage of the early school release time to eat lunch together and catch a movie. This was my little surprise to her; I purchased the tickets earlier today while we were out running the rest of our errands. I think it was a nice surprise, and it was a lovely way to spend a casual, easy afternoon.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about my childhood today. I don’t feel like I usually wax nostalgic about holidays. But there have been a lot of changes in my family this year. Perhaps that’s why I feel a bit more sentimental than I have in years past. I have been remembering the feeling of freedom that came with knowing there was time off from school. And there was always giddy excitement over waiting for our family gathering. My family was big on gathering for all of the holidays. Our get-togethers were full of funny stories and loud laughter, wild domino matches, and an endless array of mouth-watering desserts.

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I grew up in a teeny-tiny house. We lived out in the country, and our house had four room. Not four bedrooms — four rooms, total, including the single bathroom. It was a cozy way to grow up; to this day, I prefer small spaces and tiny houses. My husband doesn’t share this preference, so I’ve had to get used to the feeling of a larger space around me. But that warm coziness stays with me, planted firmly in my childhood memories.

My favorite part of a holiday was going to bed the night before, full of the anticipation of what was to come, and then waking up the next morning. There would be a few moments, just after waking, when the world still felt fuzzy and new and my brain struggled to wake up and figure out just what was different about this day. I would lie in my bed and listen to the sounds of the house around me. I would hear my mom in the kitchen, the squeak of the floor marking her passage as she moved from sink to stove to table and back again. Sometimes, I would hear her talking with my dad. I would feel the mumble of their voices wash over me, the words indistinct, but the sound of it giving me a warm feeling deep in my heart. Sometimes, I would hear my mother singing as she cooked. Usually hymns. She only sings if she thinks no one can hear her, and the sound of her voice, perfectly imperfect, was beautiful to my ears. The memory of it is still sweet. As I came more awake, I would become more aware of the smells. My mom is the most amazing cook. She would be making a feast in our little kitchen: turkey, stuffing, cranberry, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, buttermilk pie, pumpkin icebox pie, chocolate pie … and, I’m sure, several things I don’t remember at the moment. And the smells of those things cooking was like magic. It’s what love smells like: the scent and feeling of all the love my mother put into every moment of every dish. There is no better way to wake up than hearing your mama moving around in the kitchen and smelling the deliciousness of the meal that would come later in the day.

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In those moments, cuddled under my blankets against the chill in the house, listening to my mama work her magic in the kitchen, I felt happy. And safe. I knew who I was, and I knew, without a doubt, that I belonged somewhere. I BELONGED somewhere. As a kid,  you don’t realize what an amazing and wonderful thing this is: to know who you are and where you belong. This is the memory that stays with me the strongest. It is the memory that has come to me, again and again, today as I ran errands and sat down to figure out what I was going to take to our gathering tomorrow.

Tomorrow, my daughter will wake up in the morning. She will be huddled under her blankets. And she will hear me moving around in our kitchen, just down the stairs from her room. She will hear me walking the floor from stove to sink to table and back again. She will hear me talking to her father or to the dogs, because the dogs are always quick to help with kitchen tasks. Sometimes, I wish I was still a child. I wish that I could go back to those days when I was so sure of everything in my life, and when I felt safe, secure, and like I belonged somewhere. But I’m not a child. I’m the mama now. And tomorrow, I hope my own child hears the familiar sounds of home and holiday around her, and I hope they make her feel warm and safe. I hope she will know, in those moments, how very loved she is. I hope she will know that she belongs somewhere.

Hide the Turkeys

I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving. As I woke up this morning, this was the first thought in my head: “Thanksgiving is this Thursday. What. The. Heck?!?” I feel like we were in Texas visiting my family for the Summer just a couple of days ago. And school started, like, yesterday. So, yeah. I don’t understand where the time has gone. Or how it has passed by so quickly. It’s one of those weird things … Like, if you try to sit and figure it out, it will continually slip away from you, until you are left feeling confused and foggy about everything. Does that even make sense? I don’t know. It makes sense in my head, because that’s how I feel. I often feel as if I wander through life in a bit of a fog, eternally confused as to how I got to where I am and just where the heck I thought I was going. And, lately, I feel confused as to how life can change so drastically in such a short time. Maybe that’s just me.

I’m not sure I have felt extra thankful in recent months. I know I haven’t felt thankful in recent weeks. My aunt’s sudden death has taken a toll on my life, both externally and internally. I have felt sad, angry, confused, devastated … Just, all the feelings that I don’t want to feel. I don’t understand how my aunt — both of my aunts, actually — can not be here any longer. I don’t understand how the world can keep on turning when my heart is broken. And yet, it does keep on turning. Life just keeps on rolling right over us, no matter what. Sometimes, this is okay. Sometimes, it’s even a good thing. But sometimes, it leaves me feeling as if I’ve been ground down into dust by a giant steamroller. Lately, there have been a lot more steamroller moments than anything else. I know I need to get out of this funk. I know I need to get over it all and move on. Day to day, I’m generally all right. I go through the day and get things done. Things like laundry and cooking dinner and picking up my child and taking my child to after-school activities and feeding the dogs and walking. You know … “life”. I laugh. I feel love. I enjoy things. I feel happy when the sun hits my face and the sky is super blue. Underneath, I’m still sad. I can forget about it for a while, but it sneaks up on me. The sadness can come up and grab me when I least expect it. Or when something makes me think of my aunts. Or when I talk to my mom and hear the sadness in her voice, even though she tries to hide it. Or when I think about my beautiful cousins, who will have to get married and build families and live the rest of their lives without their mom. It’s so unfair.

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And yet, there are things for which I am thankful. I am alive. I have love. I am capable of giving love. I have a happy family and a good life. I have dogs. It’s impossible to have dogs and not realize how fantastic life is or what an adventure it is simply to live each and every day. I have a beautiful daughter. I still have both of my parents. They might be cranky and extra opinionated, but I love them. In so many ways, I am lucky and blessed. It’s easy to forget this in amongst all the every day irritations and annoyances of life. I often feel like it’s easier to focus on those niggling little annoyances. I think this is because they have a tendency to shove themselves into the forefront of every moment of the day, to the point where it’s impossible to ignore them. But the good things … the sweet things in life … Those can be harder to grab onto. You have to reach for them. You have to want to see them.

On Thursday, we will gather at the home of some dear friends. They are people who, over the years, have become more like family than just “friends”. I will look around at my family, at my friends-who-are-family, and at any new friends who will also be there, and I know it will be beautiful. It will feel like one of those moments that are made of the finest, thinnest glass, so that you have to handle it oh-so-gently to make sure it won’t shatter. It will feel like one of those moments I want to tuck away, so that I can keep it forever. So that I can pull it out the next time I’m feeling down and savor it all over again. And I will know: I am blessed. I am happy. I am thankful.

Weekly Nail Wrap-Up

Today will be my last weekly nail wrap-up on this blog. I remain unapologetically addicted to these bright and shiny lacquer colors, and there are quite a few fun nail posts I would love to do. I keep having ideas and jotting them down on bits of scrap paper, which then litter my desk and hide underneath my computer.

Since it seems my desire for nail posts continues to grow, I decided to split things up a bit. This blog will remain dedicated to my life musings and the occasional fictional or poetic rambling. I set up a new blog for all of my nail polish madness. I used the new (new to me … I don’t spend enough time exploring the nooks and crannies of WordPress’s site admin capabilities) thing where you can set up a new site still dedicated to your current user name. Honestly, I’m not sure if I did it correctly or not. And there is still quite a bit of work to be done on the other site as far as layout and such. But, from today forward, I will locate all of my nail polish adventures at the new blog, Pish Polish.

Here is the link: https://pishpolish.wordpress.com

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I started out my week with Zoya, “Apple”. I liked this polish, although it wasn’t what I expected. It’s a lovely shade of green, and it built up easily on my nails. But I expected the color to be darker and richer, overall. I also expected it to be a two-coater, whereas I needed three coats to get it opaque. So … I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I love the color, and I like the finish. But my pleasure was marred by those couple of unpleasant surprises I experienced when applying it. I’ll definitely keep it. It’s rare that I ever get rid of a Zoya. I liked the color enough that I think I will genuinely enjoy it the next time I wear it. I think this color works nicely for Fall, but it will also be fun to wear in the Spring and Summer.

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This is Orly Breathable, “Give Me a Break”. I believe these nail polishes are new from Orly. I saw a whole display for them at my local Walgreens, and I was intrigued. This is supposed to have base coat + color +top coat, all in one polish! I’m a firm believer in using base and top coat, so I admit I was more than a little skeptical about this. Still, I love Orly, overall, and I decided to give a couple of these a try. I picked this purple and a dustier lavender out of the display.

Overall, I have to say this polish was pretty good. It went on easily and smoothly in two thin coats. The color was beautiful, and it has a shiny finish. It looked great and “finished” on my nails, even without a top coat. Wear isn’t much of an issue for me because I tend to change my polish out fairly frequently. I wore this for a day and a half or two days, and it wore pretty well. I had a little bit of tip wear at the end of that time, but I did not take it easy on this manicure, either. I even did dishes without gloves, just to see how the polish would hold up. The polish also came off easily, with no staining.

I don’t know that I would wear this brand or polish regularly. But, if you’re in a hurry to get your manicure done, something like this would be a lifesaver.

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Next, I wore Sinful Colors, “Copper Pot”. This is the most delicious Fall color. I’m not sure I can say much more about it. It really is the color of a copper pot on my nails. The orangey-coppery color has flecks of gold mixed into it, which gives this polish a beautiful glow in pretty much all types of lighting. I feel like it shows some brush strokes in my photo, but those were not apparent at all in real life. Overall, just a pretty pretty color with a great formula. I liked this one a lot.

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This is OPI, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (the solid color) + OPI, “Sunrise … Bedtime!” (the glitter). I was so excited to get my hands on Breakfast at Tiffany’s this week. Finally!! I have been looking for this polish ever since the collection first came out. It was sold out online. I waited for it to come to my local stores. Even though I checked back frequently, this color sold out right away. This week, I checked at Ulta yet again, and they had two bottles of it left. Score!! On a whim, I also picked up the Sunrise … Bedtime! glitter topper. I hadn’t planned on getting either of the glitters from this collection, but this one really looked so pretty in the bottle. I love that it has a lot of pink tones in it, which is weird because I’m not usually a pink gal at all.

I love both of these polishes. And I LOVED this manicure. It felt very light, airy, and refreshing on my nails. I felt feminine and dainty wearing this. I’m so happy I was able to get Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I know that polish has gotten mixed reviews, but I really love it. It took three coats to be opaque, but I didn’t have any trouble with the coats streaking or pulling. Each coat dried very quickly. It dries down matte, but it looks amazing once you put a top coat on it. I like this polish so much that I may purchase a back-up of it — if I can find one, that is.

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This is Colores de Carol, “Sapphire Princess” (the darkest blue) + “Prototype” (the mid-tone blue, pictured in the bottle) + “Old Orchard” (the lightest blue). I decided I wanted to try another gradient, so I went with all blue tones this time. You can see I kind of messed up on my pinky. The colors got too muddied up, so the lightest blue doesn’t show at all. Overall, I’m happy with how this turned out. I had a slight problem with my cuticles flooding, which was probably due to overzealous sponging. I think this gradient blended out smoothly, and I love these three colors together. I like this one so much that I still have it on my nails two days later! That is saying a lot!

 

The Downhill Week

Monday brought a whole host of little annoyances into my life. Too much traffic, a crummy sense of direction, running horribly late for an appointment. A bout of clumsiness that led to several dropped objects throughout the day. Oh, and a clogged toilet. Still, I made it through the day with my sanity mostly intact. It’s just one day, I told myself. Tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday brought dog barf on the floor first thing in the morning. Most of a day wasted waiting around for a repair man. A still-clogged toilet, in spite of my best efforts to make it otherwise. And a needless trip across town to a flute lesson that had, unbeknownst to me, been cancelled that afternoon. I’ve had better days, I told myself. Even so, it’s just one more day. Granted, I felt like I was on a bit of a losing streak for the week. But I reminded myself that it was a very small losing streak. Surely … surely Wednesday would be better. If nothing else, we would be halfway through the week. That’s a good thing, right?

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I had high hopes for Wednesday. Hump day. Halfway through the week. If nothing else, I figured I would be on the downhill slide and one day closer to putting this hellish week behind me. I woke up that morning feeling rather positive. My husband managed to unclog the toilet Tuesday evening after he came home from work. I had big plans to scrub that downstairs bathroom from top to bottom. It felt good, just knowing that room would be nice and clean after all the toilet drama.

All of this positivity lasted until around noon, when I discovered we had no water. No. Water. None. Zippo. Zilch. Not even a little, itty-bitty trickle out of the faucets. Of course, I had started both the dishwasher and the washing machine. We had water when I started them. About five minutes later — just enough time for both appliances to get into their first cycles — the water was gone.  Okay, I thought. So Wednesday isn’t going to be my day, either. There’s nothing for it but to put my head down and just get through it. Because, Thursday was just around the bend. Surely, my  little losing streak would end by then.

Today was Thursday. Against my better judgment, I got out of bed and ready for the day. I went to a favorite place for breakfast and browsed in a few stores. I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply and used my coupon. It was nice. I hazard to say I was in a pretty good mood when I pointed my car toward home.

As soon as I arrived home, both of my dogs greeted me at the front door. They were all toothy smiles and wagging tails. This isn’t unusual. They always greet me at the door, and they are always happy to see me. Today, they had something special to show me. They both ran to a spot in the living room, halfway between the recliner and Fae’s crate. And there, I found a half-full jar of peanut butter. This had been a completely full jar of peanut butter just this morning. The label was chewed off. The lid was gone. Obviously, at least one of my dogs (Boy Dog, I suspect) had a really great time while I was away from home today.

I think he regrets his choices. I know it must have seemed like a great idea at the time, but half a jar of peanut butter has a way of coming back to haunt a pup, no matter how cute and fuzzy he might be. Two Gas-X, one Pepcid, and four rounds of barf later, he seems to be feeling quite a bit better. And the vet said I didn’t even need to bring him in. This is good. It’s all good.

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As for me … Tomorrow is Friday. I think I’m just going to stay in bed, hidden safely away under my covers.

Monday Monday

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

Yeah … So I had one of “those” days yesterday. In fact, it was so much one of “those” days that it continued all the way through today. I’m hoping Wednesday Wednesday won’t be more of the same. Because, let me tell ‘ya: Life has been annoying!

It’s not like any huge, major, terrible thing happened. On the contrary, things have continued puttering along fairly well in my corner of the universe. I try to remember this when I feel myself getting more and more annoyed with life. Overall, I’m healthy. Still feeling like crudola from the whole Prednisone incident, but, overall, healthy. My family, other than a small cold my husband seems to have caught, is also healthy. My daughter is happy. My dogs are happy. Big picture: Life is Good.

It’s the small picture that has bogged me down over the last couple of days. I can’t point to any one, huge, major mishap as the source of my internally grumpy mood. But there have been a series of little things. Just one little, annoying thing after another, until my camel is buried under a whole stack of straws.

Yesterday started off quite well. I woke up feeling marginally more human than I had over the weekend. I had slept fairly well on Sunday night. I was able to sit up and stand up without feeling like I would immediately fall over. This was a definite improvement. I managed to get up at a decent time. I got out the door and took a walk to enjoy the Fall sunshine. It was a lovely day. For about an hour and a half, I felt really great about myself, the universe, and life in general.

But then, my walk ended, and I headed home. Actually, I decided to meet a friend for breakfast. I headed out to our designated restaurant, and I was (in my mind) about halfway there before I realized I was going down the wrong street. Basically, the map in my head told me I was on one street when I was on a different street altogether. And the street I was on would never get me to the restaurant where I was supposed to meet my friend. Have I mentioned that the map in my head SUCKS? Yeah, it does. I pulled over to text her that I would be about ten minutes late. I laugh now at how silly I was, but, at the time, I had no idea. As soon as I could, I turned down a street that would get me headed in the right direction. And wouldn’t you know it … There was construction. I picked THE ONE street that had construction and backed up traffic on it. After that, I hit every red light. And then ran into a stalled truck and another one-lane street with terribly backed-up traffic. I ended up being 30 minutes late. My poor friend was sitting in the restaurant for so long that I think the wait staff had given up on her or something.

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After lunch, I hit Ulta and managed to find two polishes I’ve been looking for from the OPI Holiday Breakfast at Tiffany’s Collection. This was a major score, as I’ve been searching for these for a while, but they are always sold out. On the way home, I managed to drop both bottles in my car. They rolled under the seat and got stuck. When I bent down to get them out, I managed to drop one bottle onto my driveway, where it bounced once and promptly rolled under my car. Luckily, it didn’t break. But I’m sure I looked like a complete weirdo crawling under my car on my hands and knees in order to get my precious polish bottle. I dropped the bottles two more times on my way into the house. Honestly, I have no idea how they stayed whole and unbroken.

Then, my downstairs toilet stopped working. It nearly overflowed, causing me to do the “dance of panic” as I frantically tried to remove the lid and close the flapper inside the tank. Crisis sort of averted, but plunging caused gross water to spill out onto the floor, anyhow. And almost on my house shoes. Yuck. I spent the rest of the evening trying to coax the toilet into working without getting more ick on my bathroom floor. I plunged enough so that it drained down. I tried the dish soap and hot water trick. When that didn’t work (but it, again, very slowly drained down), I tried the dish soap and water trick again. No luck. The toilet remained stubbornly and disgustingly clogged. I finally gave up around midnight and headed to bed with the hope that I would wake up the next morning to find my toilet miraculously fixed and functioning.

At the very least, I figured Monday would be over and done with. And Tuesday was bound to be a better day. Right? Right?

Yeah. Wrong. Today, I realized Tuesday is Monday’s bratty, spoiled younger cousin. Because it was more of the same. My toilet didn’t miraculously fix itself overnight. If anything, it was even more clogged than before, but, now, it was also sudsy. This was not helpful, because the suds grew bigger and bigger as I plunged. I still had no idea what in the world could be causing the back-up, although, if I’m being honest, I tried really hard not to think about it too much. Because … eew.  My daughter texted me on her way to school to inform me that one of the dogs had barfed on the floor of her room, right by the door. So there was that little gem awaiting me. And a mountain of dirty laundry. And a filthy kitchen with a sink full of dishes (in spite of the fact that  I cleaned the kitchen last night). Oh, and a heating unit inspection, which required me to hang around the house for most of the day until the repair guy decided to make an appearance.

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I spent hours today trying to unclog that stupid toilet. I plunged. I snaked. I ended up having to bail out the water three times. It was gross. No, it was whatever thing comes after gross. My Springer hates the whole idea of plunging, which was a fun discovery. He ended up standing in the bathroom doorway, giving me the stinky fish-eye and barking at me while I plunged and snaked. Eventually, I gave up. The heating guy came. I threw stuff into the crock pot so that I wouldn’t have to think about dinner. I cleaned the kitchen yet again. I managed to get my second floor vacuumed. And, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I ran away from home. Literally. I headed to a favorite restaurant for a late lunch and a couple of hours of quiet reading.

This evening, my daughter and I headed out to her flute lesson. It’s about twenty minutes away from our house because of evening traffic. And there was traffic, traffic, and more traffic. We arrived a bit early because my daughter’s flute has a leak. I wanted to leave it for repairs. We waited for her teacher. And waited. And waited. But her teacher never appeared. My daughter checked her usual lesson room and reported that it was all dark and full of cellos. It turned out my daughter’s teacher is sick and had canceled the lesson, but her email informing me of this never reached me. Honestly, at this point, I wasn’t even surprised for this to happen. It was kind of just “one more thing” in a long string of things.

I can’t say I’m sorry to see Monday and Tuesday go. I am annoyed and tired and frazzled. And done. I am so freaking DONE with Monday and Tuesday. I’m giving Wednesday the side-eye and thinking that it has to be a better day. I mean, this streak of mine can’t go on forever. Right?

Weekly Nail Wrap-Up

I’m so happy it’s Friday at last. This has felt like the longest week ever. I spent most of yesterday in bed, feeling weak and crummy and sick. I even went to the urgent care clinic near my house, which is a huge deal for me. I have a really bad case of “white coat phobia”, so it takes a lot to get me to go to the doctor. But I just felt so, so horrible. I was dizzy, couldn’t keep food down, had horrible muscle spasms in my legs and feet, hadn’t slept well for several days (and not at all the night before), and felt too weak even to stand or sit up for any length of time. It turns out I was really dehydrated, according to my crazy blood pressure readings, but the doctor couldn’t find any real cause for it. I’ve been taking Prednisone for the last six days or so, due to a massive allergy attack I had in mid-October. Now, I’m wondering if the Prednisone could have caused my issues. It’s the only thing that’s really different in my life at the moment. Very weird. And unpleasant. For now, I’m taking it easy and hydrating, hydrating, hydrating.

I’m continuing on with my push to get all my “new” (to me)  polishes worn and stored away, which means there are going to be a few weeks where I’m trying to wear seven or eight polishes in a week. I don’t expect I will continue this madness for forever, as life tends to get busy. But I do love doing my nails. It brings me a feeling of peace and happiness. Lately, that has been something I really need in my life.

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This is Fingerpaints, “Surreal Sunset”. It now lives in my not-gonna-keep-it pile, sadly. I loved the idea of this polish. I loved the way it looked in the bottle. I wanted to love it on my nails. It’s a really pretty, warm sort of color. But I hated it on me. Hated it. This makes me a sad panda, but what can you do? Needless to say, I wore this color for about a hot minute before I had to get it off of my nails.

 

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Next, I moved on to Zoya, “Binx”. This is a polish from the 2014 Bubbly Collection. I love the finishes on these polishes. I wasn’t really into Zoya until a year or so ago, so I wouldn’t have been one to purposefully purchase this entire collection. I seldom purchase whole collections, no matter the brand. But, by purchasing a polish here and there, I think I might have managed to gather up almost all the Bubbly polishes. I just love, love, love them. Given that it was a Summer collection, this wouldn’t seem to be a great choice to wear in the Fall. Not that I cared. I wanted to wear it, no matter what. Once I had it on my nails, I realized the purple is muted and a bit dusty. It actually felt like a Fall color to me, which was a nice surprise.

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This is OPI, “Yoga-ta Get This Blue!”. Um … yes. Yes, you do. This is another older OPI that I ran across while visiting my parents’ small Texas town. I love this polish so, so much. It is inky and gorgeous and moody. But there is a beautiful blue shimmer way down inside. I could not get enough of this one on my nails, and I probably would have left it on for several days if I hadn’t been in “wear everything!” mode.

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This is China Glaze, “Flying Dragon” as the base color, OPI, “I Cannoli Wear OPI” for the flowers, and Essie, “Getting Groovy” for the centers. I’m still really new to the whole nail art thing, but I decided to give some fun little dot flowers a try. Overall, I was happy with how these turned out. It’s a cute and playful design, and it was fun to wear for a day or so.

“Flying Dragon” is not a new-to-me polish. It’s one of the oldest polishes in my collection, but it’s making an appearance in here because I was making swatches for a post about my favorite China Glaze polishes. I decided to swatch this one last and leave it on my nails. I love “Flying Dragon”. It’s such an amazingly gorgeous polish. But it chips quickly on me. I usually can only get about a day of wear out of it. Even so, the color is worth it.

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I decided to try something totally different and new for my next manicure. This is my first gradient. I used OPI, “Black Cherry Chutney” (the dark color) with Essie “Getting Groovy”. For my first try, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. I think I need to blend the colors out a bit more, so I will try that the next time. Initially, I wanted to do this manicure with a green and gold, but those colors didn’t work out as well.  I think this color combination would be fun for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays.

“Black Cherry Chutney” is a gorgeous, gorgeous polish. It’s another older OPI that I found while visiting my parents in Texas. I love how deep and rich the color is. And I love how it straddles the line between red and purple. It’s got a beautiful shimmer deep inside, which makes the polish look satiny and soft.

“Getting Groovy” is from the most recent Essie Winter Collection. I love gold polishes, in general, so I was immediately intrigued by this one when I saw the collection reviews and swatches online. Essie is not my favorite brand, but this polish is fantastic. It goes on so smoothly with two easy coats. And I love the soft finish of it.

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This is Zoya, “Jesy”. This is another from the Bubbly Collection. I saw it sitting in my to-be-worn stack and thought, “Hey, that’ll work. I love the finish, and it’s orange. That’s a good Fall color.” And, it is a good Fall color. Unfortunately, I did a crummy job of applying this. I got impatient and tried to make my coats too thick, so it never dried. I wore this for about two hours before I got tired of the dents on my nails and had to take it off. Still, it’s a gorgeous polish. I’m thinking it might be too sheer to wear on its own. Next time, I may try putting it over another orange, if I can find one to match the color tone.

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Next, I wore China Glaze, “Heroine Chic”. This is from the Fall 2016 Rebel Collection. I really liked that collection a lot, and this was one of the polishes that I wanted the most. It’s a mid to deep gunmetal gray with red glitter/sparkle. I thought this was such an unusual and beautiful combination of colors.

Sadly, I felt pretty disappointed when I wore this one. It felt thick, gritty, and bumpy on my nails. And I felt like the red glitters didn’t show up much at all in the polish. I wasn’t feeling my best when I did this manicure, so I’m hoping it was me and not the polish. I’ll definitely try wearing this one again because I really want to love it.

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Finally, there is China Glaze, “Blue Sparrow”. This is another fairly old China Glaze polish, but I only just got around to purchasing it. I had “Heroine Chic” on my nails for about half a day when the package containing this polish arrived in my mail box. The moment I saw this one, I was like, “Hello! You need to be on my nails. NOW!!” So, yeah … It went on my nails right away.

I love this polish. LOOOOVE it. It’s very similar in finish to “Flying Dragon”. It goes onto the nail a tad bit gritty, dries nearly immediately, and is matte and dark. But then, you hit it with a top coat and BOOM!! Gorgeous, brilliant, bright, blue sparkliness! It’s sorcery, I tell you. Sorcery!

 

Learning to be Kind

Yesterday, I took my daughter to her flute lesson. It’s a once-a-week pilgrimage which we make (now that we’ve “fallen back”) in the pitch darkness of an early evening that feels like the dead of night. She takes lessons at a local music store. It’s a large store — one of the best in the area — and the teachers are wonderful. Her teacher, in particular, is lovely, extremely experienced, and supportive. But the building housing this store is old and a bit run-down. It has terrible parking. It has a minuscule waiting area consisting of three uncomfortable chairs and a hard wooden bench. Typically, all of the available seating is covered in parental bums, so you have to kind of squeeze in wherever you can. This is often not easy.

Last night, the waiting area was mostly full when a woman and her child came for their lesson. The child went back to her practice room, and the mom squeezed into the one teeny, available chair left in the waiting room. She was trying to work on something. She had a binder and was attempting to take notes, but it was pretty rough going for her. She barely had room to sit, much less open a binder and do actual, meaningful work. There was nothing to do about it, as the space was full at the time she sat down. But, as the minutes ticked by, lessons ended. Children and parents left. Finally, it was just the two of us left in the waiting area. I was sitting on the more spacious but terribly uncomfortable bench, and this other mom was still squished into her tiny chair, struggling to balance all of her work on one knee. I’m ashamed to admit it took me a few minutes to notice her predicament, as I had my nose firmly buried in my Kindle. I’m an introvert, and this is how we typically deal with stressful public situations: by pretending we are somewhere (anywhere!) else.

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Once I realized the waiting area had become completely silent, I looked up and saw this woman across the way. “Excuse me,” I said, “Would you like to switch places with me? You might have more room to do your work.”

It was weird. She looked at me as if I had suddenly grown two heads. But it wasn’t a mean expression or a bad expression. It was just that she was surprised. “Would that be all right with you?” she asked.

I smiled and moved over to her side of the space so that she could take my place on the bench. “Of course,” I told her. “It’s all right. No reason for you to struggle when there is more than enough room over here. We’re all in this life together. We should help each other out whenever we can.”

This also seemed to surprise her, and she commented that she wished more people felt that way. Her daughter finished before mine, and, as they left, she smiled at me — a beautiful, genuine smile — and told me she hoped I had a lovely evening.

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Here’s the thing. It was such a small encounter. It was almost nothing at all. It took little effort for me to move my seat. But it made me so happy that I could help out another person, even in a tiny way. And that got me to thinking …

When I was younger, I thought that, maybe, I wanted to be rich. Or famous. I thought I wanted to be “somebody”. I wanted to be special. I wanted to be successful and talented and just … Well, All The Things. Now, though, I realize all I want to do is to learn how to move through my life with kindness in my heart and love for my fellow man. We are all in this life together. I want to try my hardest to have compassion and understanding, to see what others see or feel what they feel. In many instances, it is impossible for me to truly, truly understand these things. But isn’t trying worth the effort? Isn’t trying to meet someone halfway the important part? I don’t know the answers to these questions, not for certain, but my heart tells me this is the right path for me. It sounds simple and easy to say it. And yet, it’s a hard thing to do. I’m not sitting here trying to say that I’m a great (or even a good) person just because I switched seats with a stranger. There are a lot of days when I feel angry. I feel hurt. I feel misunderstood. I want to strike back at the people who judge me and make me feel hated. I have rage inside of me, and I have to struggle with those bad parts of myself. I have to tell myself, every day, that I am going to be kind. Most days, I fail. Miserably.

In the end of it all, I know I won’t be famous. Or special. Or … Well, Any Of The Things. But, if someone thinks of me and says to themselves, “She was kind”, I think that will be enough. I think that will mean I have lived my life well.

A Good Day

Today was a good day. I don’t say that lightly, because it feels like it’s been a while since I could sit down at the end of a day, look back on it with a sigh of satisfaction, and think to myself, “Yep. That was a good day.”

For the past several months (and especially in recent weeks), I feel like I’ve had more than my share of crummy days. Maybe it’s too harsh to call them crummy. But, you know, days that are just … lacking, somehow. Maybe in ways I can’t even articulate. Days that don’t feel complete or comfortable, like wearing a too-tight pair of shoes. I have a lot of days where I feel like life swooshes by me at light speed. I live in an extremely urban area, which means I’m surrounded by a lot of people who can be obnoxious at the best of times. I feel like I don’t have time to sit down and think or breathe, and everything pushes in on me all the time. There is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. It gives me a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach and a feeling of dread in my heart. I don’t know how else to explain the jumble of emotions that have surrounded my life lately. The best thing I can think of is Too Much. Sometimes, life is just Too Much. Lately, that hasn’t been a “sometimes” thing. It’s been an “all the time” thing.

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Not so today. Because today was a good day. Nothing special happened. Really, nothing happened at all. It was a beautifully ordinary day. My daughter has been off from school for the past two days: Monday for a teacher workday, and today because it’s election day, and her school is a polling place. Unless you’ve been living under a rock next to a cactus behind a yucca plant in the middle of a desert, you have probably realized how terrible and contentious the current U.S. election is. And I live right in Washington DC’s back yard, so it’s about a gazillion times worse. It’s been like this for MONTHS. Yesterday, we stayed around the house because my daughter injured her foot in an accident at school. I wanted to give her a chance to rest it a bit. My phone rang non-stop yesterday. And none of the calls were for me. Or even actual, live people. It was a constant barrage of robo political calls. Today, we decided the constant calls were too annoying and stressful, so we left the house.

We went to a local botanical garden. The weather was beautiful: warm enough that we didn’t need jackets, but with a tiny bit of crispness in the breeze. All of the trees around here are turning colors. I felt mesmerized by the array of gold and yellow and red. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the gardens, looking at the giant koi in one of the ponds, looking for birds, and watching the antics of the local geese and turtles. We explored a hidden pathway and looked for fish in the park’s wetlands area. We played Pokemon Go. We laughed and told silly stories and just enjoyed being together. We felt the sun on our faces and the breeze on our skin.

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And it was perfect. A good day. I wish I could take this day and save it, like a precious photograph, in a corner of my mind. In fact, maybe I will do just that. And I will pull it out tomorrow or the next day or next week, when I’m struggling. And I will feel a little bit of peace come back into my heart at the memory of a beautifully ordinary, good day.