Questionable Quotation Marks & A Few Parentheses For Good Measure

It’s my “day off”.

Here’s the thing about a “day off” as a business owner – it’s bullshit.

That’s not quite true.  During our slow time (I almost put quotation marks around that and then thought, WTF, it IS our slow time.  Nothing coy or ironic or quotation marky about it), days off could almost truly be days off.  Granted, I felt compelled to hike/snowshoe/expedition somewhere worthy of business social media, but at least I was outside getting some exercise.  And in our slow time we can (mostly) afford two days off.  Like normal, regular, sane people with normal, regular sane jobs.  Which meant one day to get chores done and one day to actually relax and have “off”.

But now is not our slow time.  And we can’t really take two days off.  And a day off is slowly, but surely, becoming bullshit.

By the end of this week, we’ll be living in a half renovated apartment above our business.

Shall we discuss the fact that an apartment renovation was not on my radar for projects this summer?  Nah.  There’s no point.  Radar or not, we needed a place to live while our “real” house is being renovated and upstairs from the business made the most sense.

I might not have thought that if I’d ever been upstairs from the business prior to agreeing we’d renovate it.

It needs EVERYTHING.  New walls.  New flooring.  New kitchen.  New bathroom.

I knew 2018 was going to be a challenge for me.  I signed up for A LOT of change (FYI – I don’t own a condo in FL anymore).  The condo.  The cabin (basement, new well, new roof, new driveway finally happening!  Can’t live here for three months!)  The job (FYI – I don’t have another job anymore.  As of January, I work solely for our business.  Let’s here it for unpredictable cash flow!)

Let’s be honest.  No one likes change.  But my last name since 2004 has been In Progress.  If that doesn’t suggest a predilection to uprooting the status quo, I’m not sure what does.

So.  I’m here.  I’m persevering.  (Which is much different than preserving which I don’t think will get done this year).  I’m if not rolling, at least not lying down in chains to stop, the punches.

As it is my “day off”, I’ve treated myself to a drink or two.  We’re moving at the end of this week you see.  One less vodka bottle to pack.

Historically, quotation mark days off and drinking lead to an over pouring of feelings via Facebook.  Particularly of the moral/political persuasion.  Pretty much lately I feel the only time I have time to consider the world beyond how I am going to keep my business open and pie in my pie hole is when I am tipsy.  Tipsy Jessica = Social Justice Jessica.  It’s not right, it’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.

But if one crowns oneself “In Progress”, one must learn a thing or two from history.  For example, to not refer to oneself in such a pompous manner.

So I will not take to the Book of Faces.  I have learned a lesson.  (Not so sure it is “my” lessons so much as fucking common sense – give up status updates the minute libations cross ones lips.  Damn.  Did it again.)

Instead I shall post here.  And purchase this sign.

ttps://www.cafepress.com/thewawhshop.2040087478

I can’t wait to put it up in the shop and tell people it supports  Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health.

Let’s raise a glass.  To more bullshit day’s off.  More vodka.  More renovation.  More progress.

 

Inherited

Me: Will you someday sue me for alimony because of the life to which you become accustomed?

Him: yup (grand hand gesture)

Me: …

Him: …

Me: A 50 year-old very small chair?

Him: that was free!

Me: OK

Him: I think it’s 70 years now.

Meat

I have often wanted to Facebook this (Facebook as a verb…kill me now) but I feel it requires a bit of explanation past general Facebook post verbiage politeness.

The prologue:  For over half a year now, I have not been a vegetarian.

I wish I was a vegetarian.  And maybe someday again I WILL be a vegetarian.  Or even a vegan.  (Genetic outlook on cheese – not so good.)

But I have a history with horrible nutrient absorption.  Again, no surprise given the genetic dice I am rolling.  I am sure this can be solved with multiple blood tests, shots, and specific doctor-approved supplements.   But the reality is I do not have time or money for blood tests, shots, or more expensive supplements.  I’m doing good to buy my buy-one-get-one-free vitamins at the grocery store and remembering to tell my doc, “oh yeah, lost 20 lbs.  Is that why my thyroid medication is messing with me?”

So!  Last May.  Fatigue.  Horrible fatigue.  Crying-because-I-want-to-go-to-bed-at-4-pm fatigue.  No money or time for blood tests or shots or fancy pills.

I ate some meat.  I felt better.  Vitamins B12, you iz my frind.

Ever since then, I have been back on team meat.

Except…not really.

Because for ALL of my grocery-buying years, whether I’ve been a true vegetarian or not, I’ve been avoiding meat as much as possible.

This means I can buy ground meat.  And I can buy chicken or turkey in most forms without too much “to-do”.

But suggest a cut?  Pork tenderloin is on sale?  Angus beef what now?

I AM LOST.

Some weeks I admit defeat.  We still eat vegetarian /vegan meals every week.  I can supplement that with poultry throughout a week or two no problem.

But when I know something Tom will really enjoy is on sale, or I feel I’ve gone too long (i.e. I’m dragging ass) without red meat?

Lord help me.  I’m wavering over the refrigerated cases for minutes.  HOURS.  What is a tenderloin?  What is a flank?  WHO IS CHUCK AND WHY DO I WANT TO ROAST HIM?  Did he do something embarrassing the first day of school?  Bet he did.

A short list of things I attempt to buy but run away because I’ve stared too long:

  1. Bacon (Nitrates?  Applewood smoked?  Hi Babe.  What?)
  2. Deli Meat (What animal did you come from and why did you eat an entire salt lick before dying?)
  3. “Cuts” of an mammal.  (I…how did you use this part before dying for me to consume?  Oh really?  Thanks.)
  4. “Roasts”.  Sorry, it just seems like a lot if time.  That’s a big commitment to the thought that I currently kill animals to survive.  Do you have anything I can cook in 4 minutes, eat in 2, and forget in 1?

In short, send help.  In the form of B12 shots.  Thanks.

Kind Coincidences

Today I wore a shirt.

Today I wore a shirt I bought two months ago and have been scared to wear.

I’ve been scared in part because I feel it is a cop-out.  There are so many things to do more useful than wearing a fucking sentence on my fucking boobs.

But the reality is, I’m limited.  I’m limited in time, in money, in energy.  There is only so much I can do.  One thing I can do?  Wear a fucking shirt.

I’ll admit it.  I wore a long cardigan over it.  I could wrap myself up if I felt I was too public; in too confrontational a situation.

But as the day wore on, I felt better.  I felt less confrontational.  Less public.

I wore it in my business.  Where I can legally ask someone to leave.  I wore it to my “office job”.  Where I was pretty sure I’d encounter 0 co-workers on a Saturday.  I wore it to the grocery store.

Man, that was hard.  But I’m going to guess 0.00% as hard as it would be for the people I’m fighting for to enter that grocery store.

I came home to find this.

A reminder of why I do this. Wear the shirt.  March the march.

I am kind.

I want others to be so.

Wear the fucking shirt.  Wear the pin.  Shake your head disapprovingly when someone is bigoted.

Do what you CAN do.

On Not Writing

Nope!  Still not writing.  And yet…

Since August, I have created over 100 draft emails that are essentially daily journals, mostly surrounding weight loss.  I have written these with an eye and ear towards making them public, but wanted the freedom of privacy to write in an obsessive manner about the scale, my food, my attitude, etc.

I’m unsure how and when I’ll start publishing some of those journals.  It’s been almost 6 months and it feels a little stale.  Do I backdate them?  Do I upload all at once?  Do I write as if it is a current date and time?

I thought I would have started this process by now.  But then November 8th happened.  That started a whole slew of flailings-about in my personal and professional life.

I am DEFINITELY not ready to talk coherently or constructively about the current political situation (just ask anyone who has talked to me about our current political situation) but I bring it up because it has been weighing on my mind and heart and diverting precious brain resources from writing anywhere about anything.

That’s all I got today.  Hope you are well.  Thanks for understanding.

Untitled #1, an artist’s starting point

A new month! A blank slate! An untarnished beginning!

Will I stick to my goals? Oh goodness no. But what will derail me? The fact that daylight will dwindle to about 23 minutes and send me to a spiral of depression and pajamas? Or will I get so stressed about finances that I spend double our grocery budget on wine? Perhaps I will take a jolly “belly like a bowl full of jelly” literally and consume my weight in those cheap holiday sugar cookies that come in sacks.

Ah! The possibilities! So much fuckery to look forward to!

I’ve re-read some Christopher Moore recently. Is there anyone who uses the word fuckery more than him?

Before you ask, nope. I did not sign up for NaBloPoMo. I am also not participating in NaNoWriMo or Movember. (In fact “tweeze” is on my November habit tracker. Take that upper lip and uni-brow!  And chin. And any mole anywhere on my body.)

I don’t know what I’m doing. Which is usually true, regardless of the month or point into which we have traversed it.

Today I decided to go old school with that cluelessness. And really, what is more old school than blogging? (Besides making up words like “cluelessness”.)

Pretty much all about hygiene for November. Probably won’t have time to blog with all my hand washing and flossing

Oh Hai

I haz a blog. But no pictures. I wrote this about two weeks ago and still haven’t had time to go through the pictures…

The short version* of my hike:

It started out great, then it was two days of rain where I did too many miles because it’s never fun to stop and enjoy a view in the rain. I ended up with a few blisters, two very painful and one infected.

Since skin is skin, and I’m prone to those types of infections, I was prepared with antibiotics packed in my emergency gear. Day 4 it was very easy to road walk a few miles to a motel room right across the street from a great restaurant.

I stayed there all of day 5, resting and popping pills. (The restaurant supposedly has a full bar. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t drink. Not even once. THAT’S how committed I was to getting better and continuing the hike.)
I drew a circle in permanent marker around the angry redness on my foot and by the next morning most of the red was gone and the swelling had reduced greatly.

Day 6 was pretty awesome; not too hard miles and I treated myself to a campsite at Gooseberry Falls State Park so I had access to water, bathrooms, and trash cans. It’s very surreal to be a backpacking camper among car campers though.

Day 7 kind of lagged. The antibiotic best for me (given the type of infection I get and other medications I take) is probably the only antibiotic ever prescribed that requires an EMPTY stomach. And I had to take it 4 times a day for peak effectiveness. The first and last doses of a day weren’t too difficult, but as I tried to hike, fuel, and medicate during the day it was tricky. I was also in a good bit of pain from walking on blisters, infection or no.

I rallied that afternoon by meeting some cool kids (probably in their mid to late twenties) and hanging with them for a bit. I had another reservation for Day 8 at Tettegouche State Park and we were too far away on the trail for me to make it so I left them and camped solo at a beaver pond complete with active beaver making a dam. That was pretty cool.

Day 8 started OK, had some high points of some really great views, and then hit a huge low point that evening. A miscalculation plus poor trail signage meant I was mentally prepared to be done hiking around 6pm yet it was 7:30pm before I got to my cabin.

When I got to my cabin – a rustic walk-in only site – the park staff had been nice enough to open it for me, but they forgot to leave me the key. Which is also the only way to get into the bathroom and shower facilities.
I had been counting on the shower to clean my feet and to wash my clothes. It was yet another mental setback. There was no phone service, although there was a landline courtesy phone outside the shower house. I tried calling the office but they were closed for the night.

I made the best of it with pump water and a basin I’m pretty sure was meant to wash dishes and not feet. It was set to be the coldest night since I started hiking and I was inside, with a wood stove. It had rained the night before so I used more emergency supplies (fire tinder) to get the place FIERCELY warm (I had to open the windows after a few hours!) and set my tent up to dry. Things could have definitely been worse.

Luckily I didn’t need to take a sh*t during the night, so I made do with watering the grass outside my cabin. In the morning, I left the office a message and a park ranger came down with the key, coffee, a certificate for a night’s stay, and many apologies.

So in many ways Day 9 started quite well. I showered, got to wash my hands with soap after a good flush, and got an extra caffeine buzz. I also was shocked at how short the spur trail seemed walking back OUT to the Superior Hiking Trail. It seemed 5 miles long the night before.

Unfortunately I hadn’t slept well the night in the cabin. I kept getting up to regulate the temperature (more wood, open windows, close windows, more wood?) and my mind just wouldn’t shut off. I also was having a more and more difficult time eating. Dinner was about the only meal I could complete.

The antibiotics, while requiring an empty stomach for absorption, weren’t any more delicate on my stomach than those taken with a meal. I would get horrible chemically burbs about a ½ hour after a dose and feel very queasy.
Basically, my stamina was shot. After I took the wrong turn at a fork, I sat down to re-orientate myself, figure the way back to the trail, and call a shuttle.

Originally I thought I might get a shuttle just a little further north up the trail, to a lodge where I had a food box waiting. I could spend a night or two and try to get back on the trail. But the more I texted back and forth the shuttle service, the more it made sense financially and physically to get back to my car, go home, get better, and come back to finish another time.

I had originally planned to spend 15 days on the trail. So I was short by a little less than a week. It’s unlikely I could have finished in the time planned, although I was technically only one day behind my schedule. I was very aware that it was taking me longer and longer to cover less and less miles. And I was in pain while I did it. (I have yet to speak to my doctor. I can just hear her, “You have the antibiotics so you don’t die. Not so you can continue to try and kill yourself.”)

If anyone wonders if I was sad to quit this hike, the answer is no. Yes, it’s discouraging to have made some small mistakes in the beginning (I knew I was hiking too many miles before my feet acclimated to all day hiking) and have it cost me the trip. But since I could not go back and change the past, looking at the situation I was in and how I was feeling, I know I gave it my best and I was very happy to quit. It was the right decision for me.

It was also the right decision because many of the mental reasons I yearned for this hike were satisfied. I turned off my email for over a week. I pretty much ignored social media. I did not have to juggle two jobs plus a foster dog plus a regular household. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other. It’s an incredibility freeing sensation. One that I have missed and was glad to feel again.

I plan to go back in October. Maybe to finish it all. Maybe just to do another section. We’ll see.

*Daily write ups of my itinerary and some reviews will be forthcoming as time (HAH!) permits. (I actually have lots written, but all in first draft fits and starts as I find a moment or two.)

Drive

I pulled into a private drive. I only realized after the fact it was private; I thought I was pulling into the business next door’s double drive. But the snow was too bad. It couldn’t be helped. I had decided quick enough to act, but not quick enough to pull over correctly.

The yelling commenced.

“Where are you headed?!”

“Woodruff!”

“I’m going to Saint Germain!”

“We’ll take it!”

And so I ended up with two passengers on my drive to work.

My Facebook memories told me that two years ago we had a huge snow that day. So I was trying to be a little more stoic about the current wet, slushy mess. For the most part, this spring has been easy. And snow was all but gone.

But that day there was snow. And two guys walking down the road in it.

Their names were Jamie and Rob. I didn’t ask. We exchanged that unimportant info when the ride was over.

Rob, in a suit made for riding snow mobiles, sat in the back and pretty much said nothing. Jamie was lankier, had a black eye, and more talkative. The black eye was from his son. The talk was the usual hitchhiker banter.

The walk was because of jail.

This did not surprise me. The county jail is in our city and I picked these guys on the typical “The Walk of Shame” out of town.

Jamie admitted to it pretty much as soon as I got the car back in drive. “Had a fight with my son. Have one of those breathalyzer tests to start my car. Got so mad I had a few drinks, blew into it, and told them to come pick me up.”
Now I did not know his name, but I knew “his” story.

“Hey, I’m here to drive, not to judge.”

And so I drove. We passed two bad wrecks. I couldn’t take my eyes off the road but Jamie reported the second one was horrible – car was totaled after swerving off the road, down a ditch, and into a huge stand of pines. At least they didn’t go in the river.

Picking up hitchhikers is something I decided to do after I’d been a hitchhiker. When you are a hitchhiker, you have stories of the angels on wheels that save you from miles of road walking. These aren’t the stories of hitchhiking shown on after school specials. For good reason, I suppose. But I like the idea of being that angel on wheels for someone. I like the idea of filling up my hitchhiking karma bank for the day when once again I need a hospital or a meal or a hotel room that is miles down the road.

I apologized to the gentlemen that I couldn’t take them further. I had to work. They nodded and understood. Jamie let slip that Woodruff wasn’t their final destination. But if they got there, they could get to Minocqua. And if they got to Minocqua, someone was always going back and forth from “The Res” and would pick them up.

This falsification could have been because of the length of the drive or because they wished to curtail prejudice against the tribe. Either way, it reminded me sometimes it’s good to lie to strangers. No one is making you tell the truth to every person you pass on the street. They weren’t applying for a job or asking me on a date. I wasn’t there to judge, just drive.

After we arrived at my work space, we exchanged names briefly while getting out of the car. I shook Jamie’s hand. They said thanks, but were already halfway across the parking lot before I got my purse out of the trunk. They had miles to go before they slept.

I went ahead and locked the doors of my car, and the door to the office after I was inside. I wasn’t there to judge, but I did a bit anyway. I told myself I was only being smart; protecting myself against the possibility that picking up two guys fresh out of jail wasn’t the smartest move in the world.

It’s really easy to think that in my hitchhiking, that is not a thumb I will have to stick out. That I could not land in trouble with no one to help me but passing cars full of strangers. I hitchhike because I want to get into a town from a hiking trail or vice versa. My hitches are about conveniences, not requirements.

But really, no one is that far from it. The mighty fall, and the less mighty only need to stumble. One too many drinks…one too many arguments…one too many mistakes…and anyone, including me, could be out there with a thumb up hoping someone else won’t judge and just drive.

How ’bout a little old fashioned, drink-in-one-hand-type-with-the-other, stream of consciousness blog?

Except that it is 10:30am as I type this. Sadly, the drink is water.

I did drink last night*. Thursday night drinking is pretty unheard of these days, as I would like to lose some weight so I am carrying less while I hike. (Side note: after becoming a long-distance hiker, I can no longer lose weight hiking. I will probably shed a few pounds on the Superior Hiking Trail, but nothing significant. The body, it adapts. Just like it adapts to Thursday drinking.)

I decided to have a drink even though it was Thursday because it was WARM and SPRING IS HERE and I wanted to CELEBRATE.

As opposed to when I decide to have a drink because it is COLD and DREARY and I want to HIDE.

I drink less these days not only because of the calories, but because I have reached an age and experience level of drinking where I can drink copious amounts and not be hung over, but as soon as I’m past 1 drink I can kiss sleep goodbye.

I woke up at 3:30am, with the lights on, absolutely panicked that I am going to die someday.

This is a panic I have had frequently throughout my life. I used to calm myself down by pointing out how young I am. Now that that argument is moot, I try to point out how many people in my life (past and present) would STILL say I am young and even if I only live to my father’s age (I do plan to outlive him. Sorry Dad) that is 24 more years of life and that is a super long and many family members that have lived into their eighties or beyond saw death in a very different light, welcomed it a bit, and in one case (Gma) complained weekly that IT HAD NOT SHOWN UP YET AND THIS MORTAL COIL IS TIRING SHUFFLE OFF ALREADY.**

This morning, I used the calming technique of, “Are you shitting me that this is really how I am going spend 3:30am? It is too damn early for this.” Then I grabbed my phone and played a new game I am addicted to for an hour. I will not tell you the game for it is clearly made for twelve-year-olds and it is embarrassing how much I love it. But I managed to collect enough sweets to get unlimited energy for an hour and while it may not be the best start to a day, it certainly was better than panicking about death.

Then I sat up in bed and did some guided meditation.

I have not had time or room for yoga lately. I miss it, although I am still at a body size where I get frustrated over the limitations and modifications I have to make (boobs and Eagle Arms do not mix). For about two months I kept putting yoga on “the list” and it just wasn’t getting done. Time to be honest about what I can and can’t accomplish within 24 hours (23 hours if you take off for playing “Pearl’s Peril”***) and decided to try meditation apps with 10 minute guided sessions to provide some of benefit I felt from yoga that I don’t get from other forms of exercise.

So far…sigh. I desperately wish I could be one of those truly granola go-with-the-flow people. But I think using “desperately” in that sentence indicts how much against my natural personality that is.

Supposedly these sorts of things…mindfulness, calmness, gratefulness, meditation…can be learned. So I continue. Even though half the time “meditation” means “close my eyes until a cat jumps up and scares the shit out of me.”

*I wrote this Friday and forgot to publish.

**Ask me how that “less caps lock” resolution is going.

***If you are an adult that plays this game, I am NOT insinuating you are immature or have bad taste in games. I am insinuating you need to come visit and drink some not-water with me.

Planning a Hike

I have been planning a 3-week hike for myself in May.  That’s been keeping me somewhat busy and away from writing.  I say “somewhat” because the planning is only monopolizing half of my time.  The other half is devoted to daydreaming about it and/or having nightmares about what might go wrong.

Superior Hiking Trail

photo credit Superior Hiking Trail Association

I am planning to thru hike the Superior Hiking Trail.  While the trail extends 350 miles, only about 300 of it is considered part of a “thru hike”.  The last 50 are in the city of Duluth and then further south in a state park where there is no overnight camping.

I would ideally like to start at the north terminus (near the Canadian Border) and hike south.  That way if I have time, it would be easy to add as many southern miles as possible before my return date.

But May* is not the ideal to hike in northern Minnesota.  There could still be snow up north.  In a different year, there definitely could be.  Thanks to El Nino, this winter has been mild and I am not delusional for thinking the snow will be gone.  It is the mud and the rivers and creeks gorged with spring melt that I have to be concerned about.

So I will start at Martin Rd in Duluth and hike north.  That gives the north end a few more days to dry out as I hike towards it.  If I have time (and energy) in the end, I may stop in Duluth and hike a bit more south before going home.

I will blog this hike, although I’m still not sure of the format or how frequently I’ll post.  Probably more frequently than I did in March!  April TBD.

*Why am I hiking in May?  Because Memorial Day is the start of our busy season.  There will be a lull in late October/early November before the holiday shopping.  Last year Tom and I managed to close the shop and get away for few days then.  Maybe we will do so again this year.  But I am concerned that I will be too exhausted from our season and/or something else will come up that will keep me from hiking.  So I am sacrificing the “perfect” hike, for a hike.  Which is perfect to me.