The One Where Jacinta and Abby Almost Die (Among Other Adventures)

Once upon a time, about a year ago, two girls decided to go to San Francisco for a an entire night of writing dangerously – hosted, as you may have guessed, by the NaNoWriMo team. 

Then NaNoWriMo cancelled their conference, breaking our hearts, causing endless tears (read: Jacinta) and hurling us into the depths of despair. 

What can mend a broken heart? Could a great deal of sunlight, shenanigans, and a tropical ocean come close? 

We weren’t sure, but by golly we were up for trying! It was a sacrifice, but one we were willing to make. 

Shortly thereafter, a cruise to the Bahamas was booked. (ha! Get it? BOOKED!)

Many months went by, with very little planning, and then, suddenly, it was upon us! We realized we needed to let our husbands know of our plans. (They were bitter, but willing to let us go…conditionally)

As the week approached, Abby decided to shine with her ability to pack ahead of time and was ready with two days to spare. Jacinta, on the other hand, chose to put it off until the night before and (of course), ended up perfectly packed whereas Abby (of course) ended up forgetting one of the most vital items (but that comes later).

Enter Wednesday. Abby’s flight was scheduled to leave at 11:59 PM (always one up for an adventure, she had opted for a red-eye, while Vanilla Jacinta chose a 6:00 AM Thursday flight). Abby should have guessed something was going to go wrong when her flight was delayed, ostensibly to 12:35am, but in reality 1-something AM, landing at the ungodly hour of 7:30 AM (5:30 her time, but who’s counting?).

Jacinta, valiantly forgoing complaining of her 4 hours of sleep (deeply considerate of Abby’s less than 1 hour), arrived in a timely manner, picked up her baggage, and, with oblivious delight, waited for Abby to traverse the entire airport to come to her. 

We know it is hard to believe, but once we secured transportation to the hotel (which took work, but we are strong, independent women, so we accomplished it), there was not a lot of drama until we decided it was 9:45 and far past time for breakfast. 

Accordingly, we approached the front desk and asked for recommendations for places within walking distance, since apparently the “go-anywhere-within-a-three-mile-radius-shuttle” was not available until after 11:00. After much hemming and hawing and looking at each other, the three ladies at the desk, acknowledged a Burger King within walking distance and somewhat reluctantly gave directions of “beyond the fence, under the bridge, and turn right”. We managed to make it just beyond the fence, where we encountered our first roadblock (heh, get it?). There appeared to be no sidewalk. Undaunted because, as mentioned, we are strong, independent women, we took off across the deep grass toward the bridge, only hesitating when we realized we needed to cross a freeway ramp onto more grass, and either walk along the actual highway or get caught between the railing and the bridge support. 

I will not say that there were deep discussions of the value of breakfast vs death, but we did slowly turn back toward the hotel, at which point we realized that we were both brilliant people because, thinking outside the box, we took another look around for an alternative solution and discovered a somewhat decrepit, but nonetheless existent sidewalk across the highway. Wisely waiting for a break in traffic, we made the dangerous passing (with only one honk), survived the crevices in the sidewalk, and with very little ado found the Burger King with its ham, egg, and cheese croissant awaiting us (we briefly considered an alternative restaurant across the road but considerately decided not the disturb the gentleman sleeping/sitting at the door). 

The End. But wait. There’s more. We both arrived in Miami from wintry climates (Jacinta would especially like to remark that her 59 temperatures were sheer torture), which as you know, tend to wreak havoc on one’s cuticles. Obviously, this needed to be rectified. 

We asked the concierge and his assistant if there was a shopping mall within the three-mile limit of our complimentary shuttle ride.

They exchanged looks. “Well…there’s a K-mart,” the concierge offered. 

“But…there’s really nothing else there,” the other confirmed. “Just a few little shops.” 

Jacinta, who had hitherto been quite unaware that K-marts still existed in this world, was a little uncertain how exactly to read those quick looks they’d given each other. “We’re just looking for a place to get our nails done.” 

The concierge brightened, obviously pleased to be able to give us a positive answer. “Yes, there is a nail salon there! Kim’s Nails!”

“Great, we’ll go!” 

These were ill-fated words. 

You’d think we’d have suspected an issue when we stepped into Kim’s Nails, smelled the pungent air, and noticed the overly cheap prices on the handwritten white board with a “Cash Only” sign. But no. Delighted at finding such a bargain, we not only proceeded to inform them we wanted both manicures and pedicures, but Jacinta even had the brilliant idea of withdrawing cash using their ATM. We did, however, begin realizing we may have made an error as we sat down in their cracked, broken massage chairs (that did not massage), had our feet stuck in basins that had not been cleansed in who-knows-how-long, and saw the numerous personal items strewn about the entire place. The sick feeling in our stomachs began when we saw the dirt coating the rusted cabinets holding their tools, and the debris and flecks speckling all surrounding equipment, including the massage chairs. 

Jacinta’s story somewhat levels out at this point – i.e. it doesn’t get either worse or better, but Abby. Ah, Abby, our ill-fated maiden. The technician she’d been assigned paused to count a fat stack of twenties, shoot back what we hope was nothing more than a double espresso, and then swab off her sweaty chest with a handy towel, delving deep down into the depths of her shirt to do so. 

The same towel that was then used to dry off Abby’s feet a moment later. 

A sharp tool was then employed, fished out of the rusty drawer and scraped harshly along Abby’s tender piggies. Being the eminent people-pleaser that she is, she manfully swallowed down her involuntary yelps of pain, submitting with martyr-like patience to the torture, which, we will add, drew blood. We repeat, DREW BLOOD. 

Next, a second drawer  (also rusty) was pulled open and Abby’s eyes widened as she beheld a hand mixer, jerry-rigged to have a circular sanding device attached to it. She glanced over and caught Jacinta’s even-wider-eyed gaze, and then cringed as the makeshift power sander powered up with a rather terrifying roar and was then applied to her heels. (Thankfully, the sandpaper was fine-gauge and there were no blood spatters.)

A tackle box full of crusty nail polish containers was finally presented before her, and Abby gleefully whipped out her own nail polish, which was ceremonially slopped onto her toes with all the precision of a five-year-old child, the edges cleaned up with the even sharper end of the metal torture device. 

Meanwhile, Abby and Jacinta had been exchanging horrified texts throughout this saga, settling upon politely refusing the manicure, (“Ok, twenty dollars, right now!”)  escaping before they decided to keep us there by force, and immediately descending upon the K-Mart next door for rubbing alcohol with which to cleanse our wounded feet, thereby reducing the possibility of horrific diseases that haunt you the rest of your life (the memories will be quite enough for that).

We entered the K-Mart with some (a lot of) trepidation, having noticed the somewhat questionable residents around the building, immediately encountered a security guard who seemed rather more suspicious upon being smiled at than otherwise, and, skirting the equally questionable shoppers, managed to procure a large bottle of rubbing alcohol and generic Ibuprofen, since apparently they didn’t believe in name brands. 

In desperate need of sustenance following our lengthy ordeal, we decided to see what else was around the shopping mall, and, in a strange twist of fate that apparently decided to have mercy on us, happened upon a small Cuban cafe that harbored delicious food and a comforting atmosphere. Granted, the waitress had to summon the only person in the place who spoke any English to translate what we wanted to order, but that just makes the experience more genuine, right? Anyway, after we devoured our food, paid our checks, and departed, we called for a pickup and were shortly sinking with relief into the loving, familiar atmosphere of our hotel room (having thoroughly doused our feet in the rubbing alcohol).

You think this story ends now and you escape the post-of-never-ending-doom, don’t you? Ha. Some people also believe there’s gold at the end of the rainbow. 

As we blissfully contemplated our narrow escape with death, we decided the only remedy was to sit next to the pool and soak in the 80 degree warmth with a book and possibly a nap. Accordingly, Abby opened her suitcase while Jacinta procrastinated on her phone, only emerging to a sharp cry of dismay from Abby. Looking up, she still didn’t comprehend the horror on her friend’s face, and smilingly inquired if something was wrong. 

“I don’t — I didn’t—” Abby’s face was contorted with dismay. 

Jacinta waited patiently. 

“I forgot to pack my swimsuit!” Abby wailed. “All of them! Any of them! I had three!” 

If you are a woman, and we presume that you are, you are fully aware of the existential crisis that usually accompanies swimsuit shopping. Furthermore, if you are, by chance, a unique size that America chooses to ignore and have to special-order your swimsuits from Europe, you may imagine how the dismay is multiplied. 

Multiple hours later – including two one-hour-long shuttle rides, a detour involving trying on elaborate formal gowns, a sidestep to Auntie Anne’s for a very important snack of pepperoni pretzels, and dangerous navigation around a continuous swarm of very cute trick-or-treaters (apparently the mall was the equivalent of a neighborhood) – a suitable suit was procured. 

The end. BUT WAIT. We know you aren’t bored yet, so guess what? Our adventures weren’t quite over. 

On the verge of perishing from starvation, we made our way to the hotel bar, where we propped open this laptop, ordered a variety of appetizers, and our bartender played mixologist for us and slid over custom-designed beverages. Then, as the well-balanced women that we are, we laughed off our entire day while comprising the first half of this missive, blissfully unaware of the eyes on us around the room. Until the bartender informed us that the gentleman across the bar had purchased drinks for us. AND was paying for all previous drinks as well. 

This prompted a second existential crisis. What do we do? we whispered to each other. Are we allowed to accept this? Do we need to hold up our ring fingers? Worst of all, does this mean we have to talk to him? This has never happened to us before! We awkwardly avoided looking in his general direction until we had summoned our bartender and, panic most likely obvious in our voices, asked her what the etiquette was in such a scenario. She shrugged. “You say thank you. That’s it.” 

Relieved, we raised our glasses to the man across the bar, and he nodded a “you’re welcome,” making zero signs of moving from his seat, much to our secret (and let’s be honest, probably obvious!) relief. 

SURPRISE! A second man slid into the seat next to us, seemingly far less interested in ordering a drink than he was in grilling us with questions, and informing us quite proudly that he was a pilot. A private pilot, ooh. The first gentleman made faces at him across the bar as he spoke. 

Jacinta, typically, shut down with terse responses that likely made him think she was a spy (he did ask for “her CIA name”), while Abby valiantly attempted to answer politely and sweetly without encouraging him. Finally, Jacinta piped up, and inserted into the conversation that we were leaving the next day for a cruise, upon which he suddenly regained interest in his drink, and after informing us he would be at the hot tub if we were looking for him, retired. 

Spoiler: We would NOT be looking for him. 

We decided, backed up by multiple text messages from our respective husbands, that it was probably best to call it a day. And carefully avoided the third gentleman who waved to us from his seat as we passed.

The end. For real this time. 

Misfortunate Monday.

This week, I had such a epitomical Monday I thought I would describe it here. I am almost at a loss for words. I want to say that it was that it was off the chain, but I feel like it’s been a few years since that phrase was in vogue. What’s the current thing?

It all started when I was late for work (of course,) and dropped a deviled egg on my shoe. It made an almost satisfying splat, and the filling radiated in a perfect sunburst pattern once it bounced from my toe to the floor. Truly. It was a thing of beauty.

I should have had my suspicions at this point, but blissfully ignorant, I wiped the yolk and proceeded on my way. I did start my commute with a little bit of trepidation, though — the previous afternoon, my muffler came apart. But the hubs had clamped it back together pending a more permanent fix, and we were thinking it would hold for at least a few days.

Not so. I listened with interest for the twenty minutes that it took for the pipe to fully sever once again, and roared into town. Good morning, Madison! I have arrived!

I logged into my workstation, and attempted to retrieve files from the bank’s website to start my daily reconciliations. Oddly, the files hadn’t dropped yet. Huh, thought I. This hasn’t happened before….Well, maybe they’ll show up in an hour or two.

Meanwhile, I beheld the twenty-five stacks of items on my desk that, at the end of last week, were all waiting either for someone to respond to an e-mail or tech support to, ah, support before I could proceed. One of them was actually at a point where I could continue! I began processing e-pay refunds.

Not five refunds into the stack, the IT department came running in the door. “Who’s doing the refunds! We’re having an error message!”

Me, guys. My life is an error message.

So we looked at that for awhile. I won’t bore you with the details.

Circling back to those bank files, though, they never did show up. Eventually, on the recommendation of IT, I e-mailed an important accounting person at a different agency to see if anyone knew what was going on. She responded. The world was CCed.

And a couple hours later, I realized that Monday was a bank holiday. Of course there would be no files.

Ha. Oops. Today, I was still getting responses to that message, letting me know that Monday was a bank holiday. They may have been typing in a sardonic tone. Or it could have been my imagination. Let’s just say, there were no smilies to soften the blow.

I feel like I’m forgetting some aspects of this most misfortunate Monday. Assuredly, I did have another rip-roaring commute to look forward to at the end of the day. . . .

But all good stories come to an end. And here we are.

Just another day

I am writing this post mostly to show my friends that it is perfectly fine to post about boring every day stuff because I love seeing glimpses into their everyday lives.

So this is my boring, everyday post. Yesterday I got to do my annual doctor visit! Yay! Actually in this case, it was biennial because I forgot to go last year. *hides face while simultaneously laughing* I had a whole list of things to talk to her about – my fingers going numb, marks on my face, a random rash that sometimes appears, my crunchy knee . . . . I have a really nice doctor and I like her a lot . . . but apparently all these things are things that she can’t actually do anything about. So I guess I’m just back to complaining about them.

Then I came home and teleworked the rest of the day and was probably an accurate demonstration of why some managers don’t like telework. I answered emails really fast but . . .that was about it. Oh, and attended like three hours of meetings! I usually am much better – this is why I need to actually force myself to get enough sleep, so I don’t just stare at my phone thinking about how tired I am and how I should probably be working!

I signed off early-ish because I wasn’t getting anything done anyway, and cleaned the house while waiting for Daniel to get home so we could start our at-home date night. He walked in with sushi and chocolate because he’s both the best and the worst. He knows how much I love sushi ( rolls and maki, not nigeri! and preferably with more cream cheese, avocado, and cucumbers than fish). He showed me the chocolate, and I was like, “I gave you strict instructions not to buy any chocolate until NOvember!” (this is me, attempting to watch what I eat – you all know I’m like a rolling hill on this subject – up one moment and down another)

His  response? “I am the head of the house and I have decided to buy you chocolate!”

I laughed too hard to argue anymore. We ate the chocolate.

 

my turn again

I was bullied into this! 

Well… that’s not entirely true. I was strongly reminded of my turn to write, so here I am, dutifully typing out words and hoping something…coalesces. Perhaps a small life update? I’m not entirely sure how interesting my life is at present. I started classes last Sunday – it would be more accurate to say I started my one class last Sunday. I am quite enjoying the classroom format rather than online. It makes such a difference to be in a room with a dozen or so assorted classmates. (Although I have to admit, I do miss the ability to go back and re-watch lectures.)

Work at the library continues charming, and Tuesdays remain my favorite, as that is when the newest of new releases are placed upon the shelves. I’ve grown quite predatory about the new releases, and make it my solemn duty to snatch them up the moment Pam has processed them and they are ready to shelve. We’ve had quite the drama lately with it being FIVE full days into September and the newest issue of The Book Page (bookpage.com) is still absolutely nowhere to be found. Patrons are rioting left and right! 

This is literally the most boring post I have ever written. I’m sorry, friends! One day we’ll all look back on this and laugh.

A Visit to Oswald

*Disclaimer: This is a fictionalized account of how last night might have gone if we all actually lived together*

Yesterday was a rough day. I had a great weekend, and then a very moody day, which is only ever made worse by my guilt that I am not appreciating the previous good days enough. I had a feeling the others had rough days too, based on the silence as we sat around the living room, each engrossed in our own things.

I was working hard on my forum post by staring at the screen angrily and wishing words would just appear. It isn’t due until Thursday, but my paper is due on Sunday, and I plan to be gone all weekend, so, in a ripple effect, the forum post has to get done now so I can work on my paper without interruption.  Rissa was engrossed in a book, having already done the dishes that I completely ignored, and Abby was taking a break from writing her children’s series while she pursued what the internet had to say about being motivated to write. Grace was off on some adventure, as per usual, and all in all, our Ingleside mansion was far too quiet for four girls living there.

Abby must have agreed because after an hour or so of this, she scared me half to death when she suddenly sprang up from the sofa. “Let’s go visit Oswald!”

I eyed her skeptically. “I can’t. I have to do my post.” I am ashamed to say I did not even attempt to hide the grouchiness in my tone. Rissa’s eyes appeared just above the cover of her book, quietly assessing the outcome of the sudden conversation.

“Yes, you can.” Abby responded determinedly. “You aren’t getting anything done anyway, and us sitting around here sulking is a waste of a beautiful night.”

“We have to go to work tomorrow – I don’t have time.” I refused to be easily moved. I can be unfortunately stubborn when I decide I want to be unhappy. I typed a few words and then promptly deleted them.

Abby subsided momentarily, glancing between me and Rissa and then announced. “All right, then I’m going to visit Oswald myself. Rissa, do you want to come?”

“Suure.” Rissa’s slight drawl didn’t sound extremely sure, but she put down her copy of House of Light anyway.

It’s almost like they knew there is no better way to get me to do something than make me feel like I’m going to be left out.

“Fine, I’m coming!” I closed my laptop a little more firmly than was needed, but both girls ignored my temper.

Oswald, for anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with us, is our local ghost. He’s really a friendly ghost – we met him when we were vacationing together in the mountains of Colorado, and since we moved into Ingleside, we’ve decided that he probably resides in the ancient graveyard just down the street from us, so when we go to “visit Oswald”, that actually means we are going on a field trip to the cemetery.

Therefore, we were shortly entering the archway that led into a myriad of forgotten stories. Whether I wanted it to or not, I have to admit that the warm evening air and the stars twinkling overhead lightened my mood. And within a few feet of getting to the graveyard, my paper was all but forgotten. There is something about graveyards that ease the stress from me. I just love meandering the rows and reading the inscriptions, and telling all those loved ones that there are still people who haven’t forgotten them even when they’ve been gone a hundred or so years.

We all walked through the rows quietly, stopping every so often to read the inscriptions when possible, or helping each other make out what a faded word said, but the quiet was far different from the silence in the living room. It was the silence of the revered. The silence of remembering lost hopes.

And as we reached one particular clump of trees, a wind appeared out of nowhere, whipped around us, into the trees, and was gone. We all looked at each other, startled, and even perhaps a little scared, for a moment, and then laughed. “You can’t scare us, Oswald!” Abby called after him. We grinned at each other and started for the exit. I like to think that the souls in that graveyard liked that random peal of laughter – a bit of joy in a sober place.

I know I did. But most of all, I am grateful for friends who don’t put up with my random moods and force me to get out of my own head every once in a while. And I think my school appreciated it too. My post took only about 15 minutes after I got home, which means tonight I get to fully concentrate on my paper again. Assuming Oswald doesn’t decide to interrupt us again.

 

 

Hello from Wisconsin!

Lately, when faced with a blank screen and blinking cursor, I experience the utmost paralysis and dread. However, after a brush with untimely demise yesterday morning, I suppose I should introduce myself while there is something left to introduce.

By yesterday morning, I mean, like, last week. As that is how long it has taken me to come back to this draft and continue….

But let me tell you about the sky. Up on these northern plains the sky stretches wide and clouds roll like breakers. Sometimes when I’m driving (and I’m driving about two hours every day) it’s hard to keep my eyes off the sky and on the road. So I noticed right off, the other day, when some large yellow object appeared to be frolicking in the sky to starboard.

The corn stalks are as high as a forest now, and for all the world it looked like it was darting down into them and circling up again into the sky. What was it? A kite? A drone? A plane? It soon became clear it was untethered–dropping out of view behind me only to spring up again in front, moving faster than seemed quite possible.

And flying so low. Was somebody up in that thing, driving?? I gripped the wheel half ready to dive into the ditch. May day! May day!

This would be an appropriate place for a punchline or explanation but I’m afraid I don’t have one.

So what else about me? Well, my husband and I moved to Wisconsin about a year ago and are presently renting an old church that has been converted into a private residence. It is as cool as it sounds. I do finance/accounting type stuff during the day to pay the bills. But mostly, I’d rather be reading, or identifying wildflowers, or chopping up vegetables. We have a cat named Mabel.

And I am wondering where on Earth the summer has gone.