2018-07-17 MFA Day 3 – Best Day Yet

Yesterday was the best day yet. It actually started the night before when I gave myself permission to have some wine, and some more wine, and eventually ended up on the back patio of the lodge with the other drinkers talking until the night grew thin and the bugs grew thick. I shouldn’t say “talking”, because as it is, I was mostly listening. I’m the quiet one people are always eyeing sideways curious about but don’t ask because someone else more boisterous is telling a story.

I love to hear the stories. All at once around midnight, the outside became too much and people made their exit (the small number of us who were left). I went to my room and decided not to think too much for my head already hurt from the wine and I knew trouble sleeping would be ahead of me if I didn’t take my Xanax. So I did. Then I slept that uneasy sleep you get from mixing meds and wine and when 5:30AM arrived and I awoke, I was glad for getting up.

That doesn’t sound like the start to a good day, but it really was. It meant I had enough time to do the things I wanted to do, plus I miraculously didn’t have a headache and that was a welcome change from the day before. I braved breakfast for the first time since I’ve been here and sat next to Margret and we caught up and it was good… enjoyable even.

That was followed by workshop, which of course was great, and a full day of lectures and readings. All of it was top-notch. I even had a decent time at lunch, sitting with the play writes and asking questions about things other than writing and their careers. I figured that as long as I keep asking questions, nobody would be asking me questions and then I wouldn’t have to answer. A good trick yes??

The afternoon was more of the same with events but as it happens, there were no evening events planned so the last lecture ending at about 4:30 or 5 meant that, aside from dinner, I had no-where else to be. That was my queto make my escape. It’s great here.. but overwhelming. And I have the luxury of living close enough that I can just go home (provided there is enough of a gap in time). So I did that.

And OMG the Universe was on a roll for my drive home. Every song was better than the last and so appropriate for the moment and building in intensity until there was a grand crescendo just as I pulled into my neighborhood. Was it just my emotions, or did it really happen like that. I want to rewind all the way back to the beginning and write down every song to create some sort of a playlist. Damn you know it’s good when you are driving on the highway by yourself both laughing and crying and singing out loud to no one. Yeah, it was like that.

When I arrived home, I had chores to do. Water the plants, gather some things I forgot, eat dinner, print my reading for today. And in the quiet solitude of my house, I was able to speed through these tasks with enough quickness that I had time at the end of it all to go visit Jim. Now theres the real crescendo. We had about an hour and a half together, which didn’t feel like quite enough, but I knew I couldn’t stay the night so I had to leave at about 9.

Returning to the Lodge, I really needed to get back into the right frame of mind. I had disconnected and needed to re-connect with my purpose here. I went over workshop materials for today, practiced my reading, decided NOT to seek out the late night drinking crowd, and of course wrote some more poetry. Feeling super satisfied with my day, I went to sleep. It truly was the best day yet.

Ready for the Repeat!
~Miss SugarCookie

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2018-07-02 Traditions and Change

I’ve arrive to the gym late today, determined to get some steps in before heading “home” to do more work. It looks like some of the other usual suspects are also getting a late start… the Man in Black (in white today), one of the Steves, and a person I *think* might be Bird Girl but I can’t be sure since she’s not running in street clothes. Perhaps she’s made it this far in the year and committed now with actual workout cloths. Or maybe it’s just not her. /shrug

It’s a holiday week but really doesn’t feel like it. Aside the temporary feeling of the city being under attack in the evenings, the 4th remains a very anti-holiday day/time for me. When I was married, it was a big deal. The biggest. Bigger than Christmas at our house. We were party central.

Family came, friends came, and neighbors joined in eventually too. We had a tradition of driving south into Missouri where there were bigger, better fireworks (at that time not legal in Nebraska or Iowa). Hours were spent planning the food, games, and wiring up the “grand finale”. It was sort of out of control actually, but it was what it was.

I had to let go of that in the separation and divorce. It meant so much to my ex that in the decree he had rights for the holiday every year, so the kids would never be deprived of the party or hanging with their many cousins. In exchange I got custody of Halloween and I was totally ok with the deal.

I missed the gathering but not the prep and fireworks. I was happy to fly solo for the day and use the time to reflect on my own life and I started my own tradition.. my annual bike ride. For nine years now, I’ve saddled up on my bike and had a great solo ride. It’s evolved over time, and taken on more tradition, such as the drinking and stop in Bellevue for snacks, and a goal to make it to the Missouri River from my house.

I tried year after year to get all the way there and always turned back because of one reason or another. Either I got too late a start, or I wasn’t sure how much longer, it ran out of motivation. The keystone trail and Bellevue loop are long and never ending. Last year was the first year I made it all the way to the river.

Oh, I still had a late start as usual and the trail hasn’t gotten any shorter, but I was super determined. I didn’t care if I was riding back in the dark. Not only did I ride back in the dark, but I was also missing lights on my bike and drunk. I totally missed the spot in the trail where I should have switched to the one that comes closer to my house and I ended up in Ralston just as their giant fireworks display let out. I had to book it home on surface streets among bad traffic and crowds (not to mention the killer hills on 72nd street). It was a mess, but I still felt great cuz I finally achieved my goal.

Above all, my day of self reflection still yielded the same result. A conclusion that I have made the right choices in my life and I’m truly at peace with all of it. That included both ending my marriage and ending now also the choice to end my relationship with Matt.

Funny I was with Matt for 5 years and he never went with me. Maybe he asked and I said no, because I wanted my solo time (seems likely), but if so he never pressed about it. I remember one year he even helped me fix a flat in my bike and instead of going to my house that year I rode to his after and we went to pepper jacks because it was the only place we could find that was still open late on the holiday.

This year will be different. I’ve told Jim about my tradition and he suggested that I hang with him and his kids and do fireworks with them instead. He mentioned it a few times now and as it stands today, we’ll be doing this at my house instead of his. That means no bike ride on the 4th and I’m really ok with that. I hit my goal last year and have nothing left to prove to the universe. My life has changed so much in the last 4 months and I’m more than ok with that. I’m fabulous.

I still want to do that ride, probably on the 5th, but we’ll see what the weather is like. My tradition has changed over time and change is good. Perhaps the new tradition is hanging with my new favorite people and then going solo when he takes his kids on their annual camping trip. Whatever it is, I have a feeling it’s going to be great.

Rolling with It,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-29 The Railcar Cheeseburger and Other Random Unrelated Drama.. 4 🍔👍🏻

Yesterday I met one of my former coworkers for a happy hour drink at a place called the Railcar. I probably meet up with Her about once every six weeks or so. We first met at my last job and as fate would have it, we started on the exact same day in 2012. We were on different teams but got it off pretty much right away.

She was very much my confidant, for both work related rants and personal issues. Toward the end of my relationship with Matt she was the one who said something that I took to heart. One afternoon I had had a lunch Meetup with him where my already broken heart was crushed into a thousand small shards because I said “I love you” and he walked away leaving me unrequited. It was such a stabbing pain and I cried my eyes out all the way back to the office. Arriving back to work, Sam and I crossed paths at the front doors. She recognized my state (trying to pull that shit in and get it back together) and she said to me “..you deserve better. You deserve someone who can’t wait to talk to you everyday, someone who is excited to see you..” There was more to it, but in my delicate state, that’s all I remembered and it finally sank in.

That was a turning point for me. A huge step forward acknowledging the truth in her words. Of course now I know how it feels, to have a person who wants me like that in my life. It’s glorious.

Anyway, Sam outlasted me at that job but in the end it was very much the same end to the same story. They use you until they loose you. Endless human capital out there in the world apparently, but a terrible way to operate. Her story is not mine to tell but I can say this much… she’s worlds happier where she is now. And what’s more, the weight of the world and the fate of the company is no longer hanging in the balance and depending on the success of pushing past limits week in and week out. We do our jobs well and then we clock out. Get in and get out and leave the drama in the cube.

Well Hell – is this a post about my life struggles or a cheeseburger review or what?😜 Getting to the point now…

So we met at Railcar to do our regular catch up session and tell the stories of the day. It was good. I’ve had their Happy hour cheeseburger before and have been remiss in actually writing about it. What I can say is that it’s one worth repeating.

It’s a little smaller than a normal restaurant burger. It’s bigger than a slider but not nearly the size of that half pound beast I had at Garbos. It’s because it’s their happy hour special and just a slightly smaller version of their dinner entree offering..

THE RAILCAR WAGYU BURGER
red top farms ground short rib, bacon apple jam, red onion, romaine lettuce, brie cheese, garlic aioli

One thing I would comment on right away is that it is really tough to grill a smaller party and get it right. So easy to overcook, but this one is spot on. The only change I requested from the standard was swapping cheeses. I had cheddar instead of Gouda. Typically I would say hold the lettuce too but since this is not my first Rodeo at the Railcar, I know they don’t overdo it like they do at some places. Some places pile on the lettuce like they think you wanted a salad instead of beef. Either that or there’s not a lot of substance and they are making the burger look bigger using a giant stack of green. Totally unnecessary. Railcar gets that. There’s just enough lettuce to add some fresh texture and crunch and it serves as an excellent topping to hold onto the sauce, which is quite tasty in its own right. A little sweet and a little savory… nothing at all akin to ketchup and mustard which is a good thing.

The cheese was melty and the bun was slightly toasted. My only complaint would be that it could use a slightly larger portion of cheese. Being a happy hour treat it’s served solo so at some point I’ll have to try the full entree. In any case, it’s a solid 4 and I’ll definitely be back for more.

(I’d go back again anyway since this spot is a regular meet-up location for Sam and I). 😊

Until Next Bite,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-28 Back to Good

Back to reality means back to the basics. Achieving balance and focus is key. My day yearerday was inspiring, and as the day unfolded, I was reminded time and again of the truths around me. What’s important and what is good.

It started with some nice reflecting on current events and how I really have learned some lessons and how that has helped me make better choices. I had lunch with my mom and as always, it gave me a perspective on some of my potential futures. Learning lessons from our own life experiences is good, but if we can learn from others, that’s priceless. My conversation with her lead me to a few conclusions and if I can course correct to avoid her same pitfalls and mistakes, so much the better.

I also had several conversations with my boss and with each one I felt better about not making it to Cali. In another week or two my missing it and any negative thoughts about it in people’s minds will dissolve and whatever priority thing is now the target will be in the spotlight. That’s the nature of things. Good or bad, the significance of it softens the more that time passes.

I worked through the afternoon because hey, the reality is that I still have to pay my bills. But I took a break in the middle to turn my attention briefly to something I’ve been missing.. poetry. I realize now that at the end of the semester I was so overwhelmed with stuff that as soon as all the requirements were met, the cadence I had had with writing, reading, and editing came to a complete halt. It was a break I desperately needed, so I could focus on other things, but that break has gone on too long.

It’s time to dive back in and I started by editing one of my last submissions of the semester based on my mentors comments. I decided to post that one to my main poetry blog. It’s actually such a satisfying thing to do. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it or likes it. It’s like putting a peice of myself out into the space of the universe and letting it float free.

After work I took my kids to the pool and we only stayed a little while but it was fun. One of those lessons I was referring to earlier has to do with life and relationships and the passing of time. In a few short years, my kids will be grown and gone and I need to enjoy every moment I can with them. It’s more important than any work I will ever do.

After the pool we had a nice dinner together and despite their constant teenage bickering with each other, everyone was in good spirits. At dinner I decided to pop the cork of a half full bottle of white wine I had in the refrigerator.

I drank a glass at dinner, and another as I tackled another work task, and another as I sat on my back patio talking with Jim. That conversation was moved inside as the bugs started to bite and then up to the bedroom as I got sleepy. Before too much longer we were saying our “goodnights” and I was turning out the light.

There’s just something about falling asleep completely content and satisfied with life. It was a good day and i’m extremely happy to wake refreshed and do it all again.

Day After Day,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-23 Key West Day 4 – Meeting Hemminway

Don’t blink or you might miss it. The days of vacation seem to fly so fast. Why is it normal life goes so slow sometimes, but when times are good it’s all just sand slipping through an hour glass? Oh what will be will be I guess. I just want to have enough time to write a little bit so I can remember all of it in days and weeks and years to come.

The first few days of this trip were action packed for sure with lots of scheduled activities. The last couple have been a little more chill and impromptu. I’ve said before that Key West has a lot of history to offer, one of those things involved one of the most decorated US writers of all time, Ernest Hemminway. I didn’t have to say a thing about this to JS, he knew I would want to visit the house that he lived in which is now a national treasure.

I’ll admit going in all I really knew was that he was a celebrated writer, and not a whole lot more about his life. Now I do. We took the tour and thus got the full story from our tour guide. His life was fascinating and also tragic. Most of his prize wining novels were loosely based on people, places, and events of his own life.

He was a romantic, married 4 times, lived mostly in Florida (the Key West house) and Paris, and suffered as individual with bi-polar and several other physical ailments that he had his whole adult life. One of those injuries kept him from being drafted during the First World War yet he still volunteered and ended up getting wounded from shrapnel in his legs.

The end of his marriages and beginning of the next was a pattern of having affairs and being caught. His wife would ask for a divorce and within a few weeks he would be married again. In touring his house it was clear that he loved boats and being in the water. One typed note I read was a letter to a friend confessing he was broke and needed to make a certain amount from his current writing endeavor to cover the cost of the boat he had his eye on.

Another pattern of behavior with the wives was that each was richer than the last. He married into money and most of what we were touring was bought and paid for by the families of his wife. Besides his legacy of writing, he had 3 children (all boys) who have had a number of children of their own.

When the Hemingways sold the house it was bought by a woman who had the mind to keep everything “as-is” and that’s how we are still today able to see what his writing studio looked like including original furniature and typewriters. I got emotional seeing that. It was like an amazing pilgrimage for an aspiring writer to experience. Among the treasures preserved for future generations is something else he had an affinity for.. his six-toed cats.

He had a fascination with the six toed cat and had been given one at some point. He had other cats and they had litters and to this day the same line is being kept in the house. At present, there are 56 cats on the premises and each female is permitted to have one litter of kittens before being fixed. All are given famous peoples names in keeping with the tradition he started, naming them after some his favorite people, who were actors and actresses. Most of them have the six-toe trait. On the tour they were in almost every room of the house. Just laying around on the tables and chairs living a life of luxury.

The tour guide explained how they were cared for and how every night part of her job is helping to round them all up and get them to the kitty-cat condos which are in the back yard. People asked if they ever wandered off to which she replied, “no, they have it so good they never go missing”. If they wander off property, they always come back. That’s a lesson People, recognize when you have a good thing and don’t mess with it.

Hemingway lived a full life, and I can see how all the drama could lend itself to inspiration. At what cost though? What I did not know before the tour was that his mental suffering eventually led to depression and subsequently shock therapy treatment. He was only in his sixties when he ended his own life with a gunshot to the head. There’s another lesson there which I just don’t have the words for right now…

***

After that tour we did the lighthouse tour across the street and I was somewhat brought back to the reality of the day. Hey, did I mention it’s effing hot in Florida? Just walking around in that heat for an hour wears a person out and neither of us felt like more sight-seeing after that.

That afternoon we cooled off in the comfort of our AC before venturing out again to get my other vacation destination “must”.. a Key West Cheeseburger. Of course the area is teeming with fresh seafood and I’d already had several crab cakes, but my time on the island would not be complete without some cheeseburger experience. That deserves a post all its own so I’m going to save that one for later, but trust me when I say it was good.

So good in fact that I ate every last bit and ended up not being so hungry for dinner at the fancy place we had reservations for. Among all the days touring and eating was a fair bit of day drinking. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted and ready to finish the night off with one last cold one back at the condo. We sat on our patio watching a storm roll by in the distance. It was a nice ending to an incredible and satisfying day.

At every turn Jim has been making sure my every need has been met. I mean, all I had to do was say I wanted to find the best Cheeseburger on the island and he was immediately researching how to make that a reality. I feel a bit like those spoiled Hemminway cats. I know a good thing and intend to stick around… for as long as life will allow.

Feeling is Believing,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-21 Key West Day 2

We’ve already done so much here I can hardly believe we’re only in the middle of day 2. Yesterday we went on a glass bottom boat tour around the see and it was about 45 minutes out, 30 tooling around out on the aqua water and 45 back. What can I say about Florida so far?… it’s hot and the sun is brutal.

When we arrived back at port we walked around that very touristy part of town and stopped in a few places to have a drink. One of those places was Captain Tony’s which had live music and hundreds of dollar bills stapled to the walls and ceiling (it also had a bunch of bras hanging from the ceiling too). We sat for a bit and talked and then moved on down the street. I’m not much for shopping so just walking around and talking was nice. We It’s a very interesting area with lots of rich history. In the evening we had dinner reservations for a really nice place.

We had crab cakes and oysters for apps and I had rated my crab cake at lunch the day before at a six out of 10. This one was a solid 8. It’s about the crab and the way it is prepared, but also about the sauce. A good sauce can elevate any dish a few points and is absolutely necessary to hit the top. Cheeseburgers might be my main jam, but crab cakes are on my top three list. If I go somewhere they have these things, I’m commanded internally to order them. The third thing on that list is a Reuben sandwich. If I ever go somewhere and they have all three, then I know I am in trouble.

The name of this place was Prime – and I knew JS would be getting the surf and turf and I didn’t really feel the need to have a steak also so I elected to have order the pork chop with mashed potatoes instead. Again it was the sauce that made it what it was. At dinner we had more great conversation and I ended getting a little teary confessing my feelings. Not that the alcohol had anything to do with that but I had had a few more drinks with dinner and they were not made for a lightweight like me. I know he feels the same as me because I can see it in his eyes. He reciprocated my affections and we finished our meal and walked hand in hand around the docks. It was wonderful. Everything with him has been wonderful. He has gone above and beyond to make this trip really special and has done a great job planning everything.

When we got back to our condo, I was still really tipsy and insisted that we get in our swim suits and head out to the pool. We grabbed another cold drink from the fridge and did just that. By this time, the sun was long set and it was dark save for the lights around the pool area. We were the only ones around and swam back and forth for a little bit. I suppose I was just trying to get the most out of the day as I could, because that’s just who I am. I didn’t want the day to end. I know I will never have an opportunity to re-live the day, so I didn’t want to waste a minute.

I don’t even know what time it was when we decided to head back inside, but it eventually seemed like the right thing to do. Of course we had a little bit of sexy time and then both fell fast asleep for the night after that. A very full day indeed.

Today has already topped yesterday which is tough to imagine. I definitely intend to write all about it because I never want to forget all the things, but we are soon to be headed out to explore a different area of town soon.

Loving Every Minute,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-20 Sunrise in Key West

Today I am waking up in Key West Florida. Yesterday at this time, I still didn’t know where I was traveling and so far it’s been an incredible adventure. You know you are on to something when even the longest travel day turns out to be an amazing experience. JS has spared no expense to make sure of it. Just being together through the “fun” that is air travel made it not as bad.

First thing in the morning we had a three hour flight to Miami which was delayed by about 45 minutes due to a thunderstorm in the area. When we arrived in Miami it feels like we walked like 5 miles to get our bags and get to the rental car. After that, we drove for 3.5 hours to get to our final destination with just a few stops along the way.

We drove through all the Keys to get to the very last one.. Key West. I had heard of the Keys but never researched much. Some of the drive was across bridges that connect the islands and on the map, it looks like you are just driving out on the ocean. We got out of the car a couple of times to check out different things. The first time it was to see a monument to a hurricane that hit the area in 1937. The second time it was just to get out of the car and take some pics of the vanishing horizon. At one point, you could look out at the ocean and the sky and not tell when one ended and the other began. I’d never seen anything like that before in my life. While we were stopped we also climbed down to the water on some giant rocks and saw the biggest iguana I have ever seen in my life (including at the zoo). There he was, just basking on the rocks. He ran away when we got close to take a pic of course, but it was neat.

When we arrived we got settled in and had a quick rest to recover from our travels. Our condo is just a few blocks from the southern most point in the US and it is absolutely spectacular here. After that, we got back in the car to head to a fish market in town for drinks and a late lunch. I had a crab cake sandwich and a tiny little bottle of Rose. The town itself is very quaint and all the houses and businesses are nice. The buildings have a sort of Caribbean feel (lots of white) and of course there is a ton of lush vegetation and it’s quite tropical.

We went to the grocery and got supplies for the condo and then drove around at sunset looking for a good vantage point.

When we arrived back at our home away from home we had a few more drinks on the patio overlooking the water (which is when we realized we forgot bug spray). JS cooked a late dinner and we settled into the couch for a relaxin evening. It was truly a full day and a great start to what I can now call our Florida getaway.

It’s 7AM here now and the sun is up. He’s planned a fun day for us today which includes a glass bottom boat ride. I can’t even describe how lucky I feel to have met him. We’re going to have such amazing adventures together. First thing is first though – back to bed! 😉❤️

Loving Life,
~Miss SugarCookie