Reading Between the Lines

Nick’s computer is less than functional. I smuggled over a wireless router to his condo awhile back, and, on occasion, I bring my laptop over for a play-date. Needless to say, Nick has come to be rather fond of having a laptop sitting around…and that was when his desktop was more than functional.

As last night drew to a close, Nick fished, “Do you think you’ll be coming by tomorrow night?” I put down the People crossword that I was working on—the leaf which I tore (with permission) from an old magazine in the collapsing heap of time-passers at Parks Automotive on Friday while I waited for them to tally my bill—and looked to his eager little face.

“I’m leaving my laptop here,” I offered my olive branch. I saw his immediate joy and then the fronted nonchalance. “Yes, I read through that question,” I replied with a twinkle in my eye, and he began to smirk and duck his head with feigned embarrassment at being caught.

Ah, but it is good to be needed.


Ok, so I have this thing about New Balance shoes. Ok, and I’ve had a hectic few months now. Ok, and by the end of the day my brain is mush. Ok, and pretty pictures seduce me.

It was last Thursday, the first day of the basketball tournament—oh, sweet lord, I’m starting to relay time to you in relation to sporting events….dang it, Nick!—and I worked a ten-hour day. I was all by my lonesome that night, and found my hands caressing the pages of SHAPE magazine with the hungry mind of a stoner.

I love SHAPE. Love it. Imagine my delight when February’s issue was delivered to my home! Masterful! And then March!—it happened again! You’re not nearly wide-eyed enough at this double proclamation…perhaps I’ve left out the most supernatural part: I’ve never subscribed to this magazine. I’ve never paid for it. I mean I would, and gladly, but if it’s coming for free, why?

So there I am, leafing through a bootleg issue of SHAPE, nursing on my heel the biggest blister I’ve ever seen and the most painful I’ve ever conjured, and what do I see but the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever known…or, you know, close to:

Sore feet, pillowy brain, orange shoes…like another path was even open to me. I found an online NB retailer and ordered a pair, making certain to get the orange. There was something about that orange. It just made me happy. Mmmm…orange.

Some people get funny about ordering their athletic shoes without trying them on first, and I hear ya guys, I hear ya…but I’ve worn NBs for so long that I know my size. I know my width. I knew no fear. I let the drool drip unabated from the corner of my mouth, my face spellbound in the rapture of this shoe and the idea of shock absorption it romanced in my squishy little mind.

I received them the following Monday, smuggling them from my aunts’ view, slightly embarrassed by the mental wherewithal I lacked in the presence of that NB ad. I have been that much of a patsy in commercialism since Malibu Barbie…so, I mean, it’s been a decent 8 months now. I should be more worldly, less excitable. But, then I opened the outer box of the package, and found streams of hot, white light spotlighting from the crevices of the shoebox…and my breath caught. This was it. My heel still recovering from the most painful of all blisters, I let my hands fall to the package with cherishing hands.

I parted the tissue paper and took in the radiance of the orangest shoes I’ve ever owned. Embarrassment completely forgotten, I ran to my aunts with my shoes high in the air, showing them off, letting the light refract from their shimmery parts, letting the orange glow. Even Nick thought they were an okay-looking shoe.

Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier with my shoes, I ran with them. Like, I tied them so that they encased my feet? Yeah, well, after I did that, I ran. They’re like mini trampolines strapped to my feet! I feared a time or two that the ricochet of my foot to the treadmill belt would cause an altercation between my knee and forehead.

So yes, cheaply, I saw a picture of a shoe and then bought a pair in a round trip of about five minutes. I fell for a marketting ploy. Shamelessly. And I couldn’t be happier. And, I just wrote about a pair of shoes…my mind is a sad little thing. But, “pillowy”, that sounds cuter…pillowy.

Happy Birthday, Debbie

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more self-sacrificing person than my aunt, Debbie. I hold such dear memories of this woman…and I know she’d do just about anything in her power to make my life easier. I hope she knows the reverse is true as well.

During my youth, we took family vacations to Northern Wisconsin (ie “Up North”…have to be considerate of the non Wisconsinites), I was an early bird. My father and brother were out fishing, and the women slept…except Debbie. I would sneak over from my family’s cabin to hers, where she was always sure to stock up on orange juice for the week for just such occasions. I loved my orange juice. It would be just her and me…with our respective coffee and juice, inhaling the early summer air and watching the dust motes flutter in the orange early morning sun. Soft voices and silly giggles…it was our private time, and nobody could touch it.

And when the news with Mom’s Cancer got bad, really bad, Debbie told me. “If it were me, I’d wanna know,” she’d say. Mom always worked so hard at soothing everybody that she often made things appear lighter than they were. I remember her returning home after one scan, duly breaking down with the spread of this hideous disease, and then adding lightness and reassurance to her voice as she notified her mother, sisters. She made it seem blasé, being ill, and nobody knew it better than me. Debbie kept me plugged in from 1,200 miles away, and I will always respect her for having the guts and inner fortitude to deliver such rotten tidings.

In 2003, a group of us sat in the hospital waiting room while Mom had surgery. It was a very long day, and at the conclusion, after we spent the totality of the twelve hours dry-eyed and calm, when the surgeon came to tell us that they were able to remove every visible tumor—good news—we stood up, all of us. I looked to my glassy-eyed aunt and hugged her. The way she hugged me back spoke of the power of the moment, and I was lost in her tears and couldn’t tell you for sure when my own began. My aunt has more spirit than most people will ever possess.

So it is on this day that I wish to the woman—who buys me grapes every Thursday when she shops just because she knows they’re my favorite, lets bananas rot, never lets me drink a glass of wine alone, and always lets me sneak up with a hug—a very happy birthday. The world celebrates in your loveliness today, dear aunt.


My grandmother made this delicious salad last Sunday, and I was fond of it enough to accept the remaining bit from what was prepared, something I don’t typically accept because I usually don’t get around to eating leftovers.

But it was so good.

Different, but delectable.

It sounds strange, but it had broccoli and halved grapes—green and red!—slivered almonds and pineapple. The dressing consisted of mayonnaise and a spot of reserved pineapple juice. It was a lovely balance of flavors and I found myself quite enamored. I was having dinner with Nick that night, and brought the salad for a dinner-compliment.

Nick, being a sport, spooned a portion to his plate. I knew immediately that his infatuation with the recipe was nothing compared to mine, to the point of possibly being non-existent. I fought my impulse to drop my face to his plate and finish it myself, and won as he delineated what changes to the recipe would nourish his liking of the dish.

“Well, I’d take out the broccoli and almonds,” he began, I nodded, encouraging his continuance, “and add melon or something.”

Boring. “Nick, that’s a fruit salad.”

He pseudo-winked at me and hiked up that corner of his mouth, and through his smirk he followed up, “Well, exactly.”

Brenda on Dosing

Brenda took me out to dinner last night to talk about how I was handling everything. I haven’t been home much at all, and naturally she reads daily…and I occasionally key a heavy post here…

Hi, Brenda!

I told her that I am best on the days that I double my mood-enhancing supplement. It’s an amino acid called L-Tyrosine that I originally started taking in September to help me through the winter slump….little did I know then how slumpy my winter would get! My working knowledge of supplements is staggering, and completely useless in any facet of my daily life.

I offered this piece of information shyly, not wanting my aunt to worry that I was doubling a recommended dose. I needn’t have worried. This from the aunt who, whenever she goes to the doctor and they find something off, asks, “Is there a pill I can take?” When detailing what my stress has manifested physically, Brenda generously offers, “We’ve got lots of pills here. Feel free.” Silly me. We have a pill drawer. An entire drawer in the kitchen dedicated to pills. And a cupboard that contains the pill overflow, and your run-of-the-mill OTC drugs.

So, it should have come as little surprise for Brenda to offer, in response to me taking extra amino acids, “They usually list low-end doses anyway.” Do you think this applies at all to the tolerated upper limit of sugar? Hmm.