Category Archives: You've Been Linked!

Sometimes, Cancer Isn’t Cured with Stitches

Yesterday I found out that a young woman who I was introduced to via social networking shortly after I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma had passed away from her cancer. She was only 40 and left behind a husband and two young sons, and her name is Dawn.

While my mole was simply removed with a wide-margin surgery, her treatment was to take out a couple of her lymph nodes in her groin to biopsy them as well along with the mole removal. Dawn’s treatment was considered successful after her second lymph node surgery, CT and PET scans in the winter of 2009, a full year before my diagnosis and treatment. She was instructed to get a mole check every three months; I went in every six.

Last February when she told her doctor she’d been having pain, he proactively ordered a scan even though she’d been given the all clear by her dermatologist. That’s when they discovered her cancer had returned. Then after some chemo treatment, they performed surgery just three weeks ago and basically found the tumors were inoperable. Last week she came home and began “planning visitations and playlists“.

Her story is both frightening similar and altogether different from mine. I don’t compare my situation her hers to bring attention to myself, but as a simple reminder to that I don’t believe that fate has anything to do with how our lives turn out. It’s simply luck, whether good or bad. I didn’t “deserve” getting cancer, and Dawn certainly didn’t “deserve” to die. A roll of dice has left me cancer-free (as far as I know), but her death has shaken me to the quick. In another six months, my diagnosis could be as equally dire. Like her, I look back on past symptoms (the severe breast pain; the bone-melting fatigue) and wonder if the doctors really did weigh in my past diagnosis.

I don’t want to harp on you, my friends, the seriousness and dangers of tanning, whether by bed or sun, but if my story of survival doesn’t convince you that you need to be sun-conscious, I hope that Dawn’s life and her legacy does.

I didn’t just throw my panties on stage…


Having friends in the computer can really pay off. Olivia Drab scored me an autographed pantyliner. Not just any pantyliner. An Always Pantyliner. The Cadillac of Pantyliners. Trust me on this.

And not just any autograph. An autograph from Jenny Lawson. And who is Jenny Lawson? The Bloggess.

Olivia updated on Facebook how she was in line to have The Bloggess sign her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and I excitedly (and half-jokingly) begged her to get an autograph for me as well since I know I would personally never have the opportunity. I suggested she hand her a pantyliner or something for Jenny to sign. So she did. When handed the pantyliner, Jenny said, “That is so AWESOME!”

No, Jenny, YOU are awesome (and so is Olivia Drab, of course!).

Let’s Pretend This DID Happen!



Distress Signal

I received this message from a friend today and am paraphrasing it here.

This is an emergency post. I am writing because my dear friend’s husband was diagnosed with leukemia today. I am reaching out to you all because I know you have dealt either with cancer, infertility or both, and some of you have fairly extensive networks.

Her husband begins chemo on October 25 (this Tuesday). They need to find a sperm bank they can go to on Monday in the DC area. Please, if you have any leads to reputable places AND ideas about the questions she and her husband should ask, email them to me here: thismamasaid (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment.

I’ve also sent a message to Mel at Stirrup Queens as I plan to use all the resources I have at my hand to help.

The 2011 Family Vacation

A drive with two younger children will make you appreciate the smaller things in life. Like handheld gaming devices, smart phones, and DVD players with wireless headphones. I’ll admit that this past weekend’s trip to Denver and back is making me seriously rethink our Disney World trip in February. Sparring Partner and I have been to Colorado a handful of times and we find it both inspiring and rejuvenating. The scenery is never boring, even in the very eastern part of Colorado where the only thing to break up the horizon might be a small oil rig or a farm of wind generators. We thought that Doodicus might enjoy the adventure. We imagined him awestruck by seeing the mountains for the first time. We did not foresee what seemed to be his endless whining and complaining, including the statement, “This is lame!” Ah, the age of 9… We pressed on making the most of the trip. Our hotel in downtown Denver was perfect in both accommodations and view.

We were a five minute walk from the 16th Street Mall where the four of us enjoyed a handsome cab ride at dusk.

Sparring Partner and Doodicus attended what was our son’s first professional baseball game at Coors Stadium. While they were at the park, I met up with an amazing blogger from the area, Lori Lavender Luz. Many topics were brought up while none were finished thanks to one pee break, one poop break (false alarm) and a teary breakdown after taking a thunk to the forehead. I’m referring to Aitch on all three interruptions, by the way. I was further honored when she said that after mentioning to Melissa Ford she was meeting with me that Mel told her to tell me “Hi!” I forgot (or maybe that was the first potty break request) to return the greeting, so “Hellooo!!” to Mel if she’s still reading.

During our trip if we weren’t driving or eating, we were checking out the pool of whatever hotel we were staying in. The pools (I accidentally typed “poos”, which is ironic) were sub par at best. One had the free-weight equipment right next to the pool, including the exercise balls, which was made into an improved beach ball by a group of drunk youth. Another pool was totally grody to the point you couldn’t see the bottom and the chlorine levels were so high, we choked on the fumes. And for some reason, I can’t remember the third…whatever. It sucked, too.

One of the best parts of the trip was Garden of the Gods. It was the only site the kids asked to see again, so we actually went back the next day when everyone was wearing shoes instead of flip-flops and I wasn’t wearing white pants.

On our last full day, we took the cog wheel railway up Pike’s Peak. When I researched ticket prices, I thought they were a tad high, but after all was said and done, they were worth the $40 per adult (children’s are lower). I was surprised when Aitch fell asleep literally in my arms on the way up. The gentle swaying of the train, the ceaseless noise and the fresh air did her in.

(Still 2,000 more feet to go until we reached the top)

The day couldn’t have been better for a trip up the mountain. It was above 80 when we left the station and 50 at the peak (windchill around 40-something), but clear and relatively calm. The next morning as we were leaving Colorado Springs, you couldn’t even see the mountain range.

Doodicus enjoyed a couple donuts at the top and some photo opportunities with his dad as I was inside the gift shop (tourist trap) trying to make Aitch happy after she woke up cold and in unfamiliar surroundings. She was easily appeased with a stuffed fox that she dressed up in her bracelets all the way back down the mountain, which is when she also discovered a hole in one of its seams (cheap touristy crap!).

Aitch did really well on the entire vacation, only asking to go home the day before we actually did. At the last hotel we stayed at, I slept with her. I was already awake when the next morning I got to watch her come out of her slumber. She opened her eyes, saw me and smiled. Then she reached out her little arms and pulled me in for a kiss. Seriously, that girl heals me in so many ways. Potty training started almost suddenly the weekend before and even though we traveled long distances with her in a diaper, she wore underwear most of the time (with the exception of bedtime) without incident.

Doodicus liked the rock scrambling and the arcade at the travel center in Grand Island. What can I say? He’s nine-teen going on four. I was thankful for the meds which kept me from clubbing him with a rock when he made the “this is lame” statement.

We found most everyone to be friendly and warm, and not just staff. Something those here in Nebraska who spew the most about “Midwestern Values” should take note of. It’s beautiful out there. I strongly recommend you make a trip to the Colorado Springs area.








Viva La Columbia

I have been very fortunate over the years to have formed bonds with dozens of bloggers. Many no longer actively blog but we keep in touch via Facebook or Twitter (and now G+). I’ve even had the honor of meeting a few, including the only blogger I know that admits living in North Dakota.

You might know her, too. Her name is Erin. She use to write at Viva La Columbia, documenting the adoption of her two sons from Columbia. After she brought home her second son, her personal story got a little too complicated, even to blog about, so she stopped writing. Sadly, she later told me that she and her husband divorced.

Off and on over the next couple of years we’d touch base with each other, and eventually she started dating a very sweet man who doted on the boys. And then?

Well, eight months ago she sent me a shocker of a message. After years of dealing with PCOS and infertility, which led to the adoptions, she was pregnant for the first time!

I would now like to congratulate Erin, who gave birth to a beautiful boy earlier this week. My heart swells with joy for my friend who is now raising three amazing sons with the help of a loving partner!

NIAW – Repressed

A high-school friend of Sparring Partner’s and her husband came to visit us over the weekend. We don’t hear from them often as she’s often jet-setting around the globe, but a few weeks ago during a long phone conversation she admitted to SP that they had gone to our very own reproductive endocrinologist for a donor egg cycle as well as an attempt at a subsequent frozen embryo transfer. She did not get pregnant. Dee (let’s call her Dee, shall we?) asked if at a later date she could pick my brain about it, and of course I’m always up for a good brain-picking.

While they were visiting the topic did turn to infertility and going through treatments. We compared notes and swapped horror stories about progesterone in oil (PIO) shots. I shared the time I had hit a vein (or something) with the needle and blood shot out of the hole on my ass; she shared how she had to have an infected subcutaneous mass, which was most likely due to her PIO shots, surgically removed from her ass. She won that “Which Sucks More” contest. We went on to compare costs, the number of eggs retrieved and transferred, protocol, etc., etc. Dee and her husband are now considering adoption and overseas surrogacy.

After they left, Sparring Partner told me that our conversation had brought up a lot of unpleasant memories for him. Things he admits he had forgotten about. Was glad to have forgotten. I can’t say I blame him.

These are not things I think about every day. Not any more, and for that you have no idea how relieved we both are. My life revolved around infertility and miscarriages from November 2004 until July 2008, just a little over four years. For some, a very short time; for others? An unimaginable waste of time and energy. Reading posts from my old blog always brings back very painful memories. Some so painful, I wonder how in the world could I have forgotten them until the moment I read those words again. Forgotten is probably not the best word for it: Repressed is more accurate, don’t you think?

I read very few infertility blogs now. When my friend Serenity wrote about an anonymous commenter suggesting she should be happy with what she’s already got (paraphrased in regards to secondary infertility (SIF)), I got my rage on. I remember tackling that topic so many times and reading her words once again brought out all those feelings I had repressed. I dug again in my archives and stumbled into one of my posts that actually was never published on my blog, but through a blog that no longer exists, created by Dawn Friedman. To create the link, I have now published it on my old blog (which if you still have in your reader, you’ve already seen). I would really love for you to go read it as I think it’s one of my better posts when it comes to SIF.

Dee’s visit coincided with this week being National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), April 24 – 30, 2011. I don’t advocate myself as much as I use to when it comes to infertility, and in many ways I regret that because the camaraderie and support from my fellow IF bloggers was (and still is!) second to none. However, at some point, I’ve both consciously and subconsciously made decisions that distance myself in order to protect what is left of my sanity. New worries and concerns (a son with ADHD and possibly ODD) (cancer) (eventually a child who needs to know her donor story) replace what has been archived. But I will always – ALWAYS – make myself available for questions, conversations, and debate when it comes to infertility and miscarriage issues.

I am grateful that I don’t have to deal with infertility issues every day like I did in the “good ole’ days”, but I am more grateful that when they do come up, I can offer a shoulder, words of encouragement, and most importantly when it comes to infertility – an ear to just listen.

Little Blogger On The Prairie*

Since I moved from my old blog to this one, I have been cautious about exposing too much of my previous identification. Once burned, twice raped by those in your real life who want to be up in your biz…and all that. Now that I haven’t been around the bitches from where I worked because 1) I don’t work there anymore; and 2) Stalker took a job in The Metro and hauled her whore-ass out of town, I am once again considering welcoming other people from IRL back here, especially those I am friends with on Facebook.

And then I go back to that “once burned” thought and I rein myself in. I guess I’ll wait a little bit longer before I update my old blog with a post that I can now be found here.

Instead, I am comfortable enough to share where I blog from (no, I’m not referring to the laptop I prop on one knee while I sit in my rocking chair situated in the living room), but where geographically, which is Nebraska, US of A. I know. Most of you probably already knew that, but hey, a blogger past her prime can still dream that she can pick up a new reader now and then.

While I have found an incredible sense of camaraderie through the community of blogging, I have to admit that not having a chance to actually get together with a fellow bloggers is one of the detriments to being a blogger in a what is considered a very rural part of the country where people generally still don’t have a clue as to what a blog is! I am pea-green with envy of those of you who mention spontaneous luncheons with another blogger who lives across town. You have no idea how lucky you are.

I’ve tried at different times to find other bloggers in Nebraska. Currently, I know less than a handful who do. So I’m putting out feelers once again for people who maintain a personal blog. I’ve found a syndicated blog, that networks in Omaha (obviously), but only a couple of the contributors have their own blog. I’m not a big follower of community blogs for a variety of reasons, one being rather petty: the truncating of posts. I know, I know. Bloggers, especially pros, don’t want their content stolen and it gives them a more accurate way to collect stats…whatever. I don’t like it.

So I’m collecting a list of Nebraska bloggers. I’m not particular about topics, but prefer to find “personal blogs”, not “Here’s what’s going on in the Capital Building today!” or “Today’s Spring Game for the Huskers was cancelled due to a blizzard!” (which, dudes, we totally had a blizzard today complete with an accumulation of around 8″ and ice and drifts and shit!) (however, I have no idea if the game was cancelled, nor do I care). So if you know of a blogger who lives in Nebraska or you ARE a blogger in Nebraska, shout it out. I’m going to start a new page with the links. Maybe someday this will lead to a CornFab or at the minimum, a spontaneous luncheon with a fellow Nebraskan blogger.

* This is the name of an actual blog. HOWEVER, this person not only has her blog as private, but she’s in Illinois. ILLINOIS! Please. That is so not on the prairie.

Do Good

Mrs. Soup’s husband continues to have some progress following the stroke he had ten days ago. She updated her blog recently with what has been going on with Ryan. They were able to break their lease without penalty so that Mrs. Soup and her daughter could move back in temporarily with her parents while Ryan continues to heal.

Mrs. Soup also included in her update information on where donations can be made towards their family’s medical expenses. If you wish to help, charitable contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank under the name Ryan and Katherine Campbell (Oregon). Maybe you are looking to do something outside the norm of exchanging white elephant gifts with your co-workers at your office party…

Finally, Katie, a friend and photographer is forwarding all December’s proceeds from her Etsy store to the Campbells. If you’d rather have a gift for a family or friend to unwrap this season, maybe a print from Katie’s store, Bird’s Eye View. Below is just a peek into Katie’s talents:

16 of 30: It’s not NaBloPoMo without at least one meme!

There’s always room for memes during NaBloPoMo, especially when I haven’t been able to keep up. A NOTABLE blog post requires time, research, thought, editing, rewriting….

I’m not good at any of those.

Zandrafrom The Anc Farm, who puts up with me and has for a couple of years, has tagged me with an interview-style meme. No, you cannot skip to the end to see if I tagged you next. Cheater.

1. What is one TV show you make a point of watching every week?

I use to try to watch Glee, House, Lie to Me and CSI: Las Vegas but I honestly don’t know where my day goes. Right now I could be watching the DVRed programs, but nooooo! I’m doing this meme instead!!

2. Did you wear braces?

No, but I did wear a retainer for a few weeks. Yes, just weeks because I couldn’t stand the damn thing. It hurt and I once caught my tongue in the wire. With all the money I’m going to win in the lottery, I would like to get my teeth straightened and whitened. After I have all that plastic surgery I’ve been wishing for.

3. How many cars have you owned?

Solo, I’ve owned three: my first was a 1973 Plymouth Duster that I bought from the gay couple who lived next door to my studio apartment when I lived in Wichita. They were good guys, but not the best mechanics. The second car I bought was a 1986 Ford Tempo, 2-door. I flirted with the salesman who took me to lunch during the test drive in which he did the driving. You see, it was a 5-speed manual and I didn’t know how to drive a stick. It’s a friggin miracle I didn’t kill anyone driving between Omaha (where I bought it) and Lincoln (where I lived at the time). And then the first NEW car I ever owned as a single-person was the 1996 Dodge Neon. I thought I was pretty hot shit driving my smiling, black Neon around town. Since getting married? I’ve had four vehicles that were my main rides, all Toyotas.

4. I’m coming to your house for dinner, what will you serve me?

As long as I know you’re coming, I would definitely be prepared. Normally, it would be something that’s universally tolerated, like lasagna; however Tara is a vegetarian. Around here (“here” as in Cattle Country), a vegetarian would starve to death (except when sweet corn is in season), or do what my friend does when she visits and go through McDonalds and order a cheeseburger, hold the patty. So then I’d have to defer to my sister who lives in The Capital and is also a vegetarian for what makes for a satisfying dinner. We once tried to grill portobello burgers for her but I don’t she was impressed…unlike me, she’s too polite to actually tell us they sucked.

5. Other than anything having to do with family, name something for which you are thankful.

I am, and always will be, eternally grateful for every single person I’ve “met” through blogging, even the ones who are no longer around. The blogging community is like a hand-made crazy quilt: every stitch and patch just adds to the overall color and warmth I can wrap around me when I need a hug. Cheesy, no?

Now, let me see. My victims taggees will be

And my questions:

  1. If you were gifted $5,000 tax-free and you had to spend it (not save it), what would you spend it on?
  2. How many times have you moved in your lifetime?
  3. Have you ever been so angry, you hit someone or at least felt like hitting someone (or something)?
  4. What’s your favorite article of clothing or pair of shoes and why?
  5. Are you hanging lights this holiday and if so, when is the turn-on and turn-off dates?

SUNDAY Day 5 and Last of Boston

Sunday was my last full day in Boston. It was also Father’s Day. And my wedding anniversary. Lucky Number 13.  I was missing home intensely. CousinP had extended an invitation to his sister’s home in Lexington for brunch. His parents, Sparring Partner’s aunt and uncle, as well as his siblings and their respective families would all be there. Some I had met before, coincidently enough, either at our wedding or in subsequent visits to Boston in the past for family events. Everyone was very kind, but I still couldn’t help but feel like a third wheel even in a house full of people.

One of Sparring Partner’s cousins had her son there who was about the same age as Aitch. Seeing him made me miss Aitch more than I had in the previous days. CousinP and I were the last relatives to leave so I returned to the hotel sometime early afternoon.

I had made plans in the afternoon to meet with Karen, who blogged briefly about her secondary infertility a couple years ago. I suggested she meet me at the hotel. In the meantime, Pamplemousse dropped by my room with some wine. It wasn’t long before Head Banger, Millie and E. stopped by as well. Millie, the genius and a seasoned traveler, carried a baby monitor with her to listen for L.E. who napped in the room next to mine. When Karen arrived at the hotel, I asked her to come up to my room (*wink wink nudge nudge*) so I could make introductions before heading out on our own.

It goes without saying – but I will anyway – that once again we made our way to Faneuil Hall. We decided to eat at Tia’s, which is where I had had lunch with CousinP. Since we were sitting outside, we were able to take in the beautiful and sometimes bizarre views, including what appeared to be a teenager taking his toddler sister for a walk on a leash while he texted.

Oh, but the arbor was pretty...


Is that...a scrunchie??!

Karen and I occupied the table at Tia’s for quite a while just talking about everything and nothing. It was a relaxing way to wrap up my vacation. We thought we’d top off the evening with nightcap at one of the Cheers franchise bars located in Faneuil Marketplace. The place was quiet, with a handful of tables occupied. We were asked by what we could only assume was the “hostess” if we were eating or just drinks. When we responded that we were there for just cocktails and that we wanted to be seated outside, she motioned towards three tables in a corner and told us those were the only tables available to ilk like us, and that we would have to place our orders at the bar as they didn’t provide service.  

Oh, yes, she did! OK, she didn’t say “ilk” but the implication was there. Of course, when we sidled up to the bar, we couldn’t even order immediately because the bartender was off doing who knows what and the bar-back was…well, bar-backing. Needless to say, we only had one drink each and by then it was getting late and Karen still had an hour trip home.

My flight home didn’t leave until noon on Monday, but I have recurring nightmares (whether I’m traveling or not) about being late for a flight due to packing issues so I made sure to pack up what I could when I arrived back at my hotel. Due to nerves, I was up again fairly early the next morning to finish packing.

Millie had generously offered to drive me in their rental car to the airport, and suggested I knock on her door about 10:00 a.m., but with me up and about and with nothing to do, I went to the Pamplemousse’s door and knocked quietly. And then I had to knock again and again and because I don’t take No for an answer, I knocked yet again, louder. Finally Head Banger came to the door and ushered me in to find P still in bed. We cuddled for a bit before I made my way back down to Millie’s door and got her out of bed, too. Yes, I’m an asshole.

A few minutes later, we were all standing by the rental car and I was hugging Pamplemousse good-bye, missing her already. She and Millie were staying in Boston for a few more days to take in more of the sites. Millie then dropped me off at the airport where more hugs and good-byes were exchanged.

My flight out of Boston was just a shuttle to LaGuardia in New York, which if you can, avoid. I had to leave the airport’s terminal and take a shuttle bus to an adjacent terminal and thereby go through checking-in and security all over again. If my layover had been only an hour, I wouldn’t have made it. It was dumpy, crowded and without a coffee shop in sight! Thankfully my flight from Chicago to the local airport was maggot-free and now I just had to make the two hour drive home.

My first stop once on my home stomping grounds? Runza. Sweet, sweet Runza. How I missed your home-made burgers and crinkle fries! And Pepsi!!

A fabulous trip all-in-all. I actually feel a bit empowered now that I’ve traveled like a big girl across the country by myself. I also know that if Sparring Partner pulls the stick out of his ass long enough to take a trip with me, it will difficult to convince me not to stay in the general area of Faneuil Hall.

There are many wonderful things about living in the Corn Belt, but one of the major downsides is that all the wonderful people I met on my trip would be hard-pressed to actually make plans to visit me here. It’s beautiful, but as for sites to see and things to do? Not so much. Maybe Carhenge? Or the Zoo? Maybe the College World Series? An afternoon’s drive to Mt. Rushmore perchance?? Better to just plan on sitting on our deck with a drink or four and fend off body-snatching mosquitoes and take in the amazing sunset. I’ll even serve your drinks and not make you sit at a segregated table.

SATURDAY Day 4 of Boston

My trip is officially on the second half by Saturday and I can hardly believe how the time has flown. That morning Millie, Pamplemousse and I headed to Faneuil Hall once again to meet up with Mary Ellen. Another brief walk to the harbor, and we found ourselves seated at a table outside of Legal Seafood chatting up a storm. We only spoke briefly about the blogs we read and I found it interesting how the blogging degrees of separation had brought us together in some common reads, and yet many blogs were discussed that I have never read.

I left the girls in the early afternoon to go meet Delenn and her children at the Museum of Fine Arts. This is where I owe Millie for holding my hand in the T station and assuring me that getting to the Museum would be a snap. As I sat in my seat, swaying with the motion of the train, I initially worried about missing my stop. But as I had been assured several times in the past, it really was a stressless trip.

Once I met up with Delenn and her son, M. and daughter, W., I let them lead the way to their favorite displays. I could have spent an entire day taking in the beautiful paintings and ancient sculptures, not to mention the amazing Egyptian mummies. The closest museum to where I live is two hours away plus Sparring Partner has just as much interest in going through galleries as he does in having his entire body waxed.

Delenn's son, M.

After some quiet moments in an outdoor garden, it was time for me to get back to my hotel. Unfortunately, I was so distracted by my surroundings that I failed to get a picture of Delenn and myself together. I felt like an ass. She also gave me some words of advice and encouragement in taking the T to the station close to the hotel, and with that I was once again transported safely to my destination.

Staying in a hotel so close to a major tourist attraction has some serious advantages so it’s probably pretty obvious by now that my next hook-up took place once again at Faneuil Hall. This time with Diana. She agreed to have supper with me at Sel de la Terre close to the Long Wharf. We spent a great deal of time there just talking (and talking and giggling and talking and giggling some more!) before I suggested we head to the North End for dessert. Sorry, but la Terre’s selections of after dinner treats were less than desirable, including their sweet corn ice cream. Ewwwww.

It was dark by the time we reached the North End and utterly PACKED with people! The line at Mike’s Pastry was easily 20 – if not 30 – people deep outside the door so I settled for a Twix bar. I know. Pathetic, right? It didn’t matter. It was all about the company kept. And Saturday? I had excellent company!

FRIDAY – Day 3 (Part 2 of 2)

I had just found myself in the arms of a stranger when we last left off. Pamplemousse was one of the hundreds of bloggers who I have met on-line that I never, ever thought I would have a chance to meet I-R-L (In Real Life). She’s the reason I was determined to make this trip. While there are others from over the sea I (and of course, state-side) would love to someday meet in person, I knew I had to do what I could to meet Pamplemousse now as the likelihood of me ever getting out of the country later is less than nil.

But here she was! Standing with a glass of wine and a big grin on her face in front of a couple seated in the lobby. My first thought when I looked at the couple was, “Oh my god! Millie dyed her hair blonde!” but when Pamplemousse walked me to a table in the lounge where another couple was seated, I realized (with relief) that Millie hadn’t dyed her hair. I had just assumed the first couple was Millie and her husband, but it’s just because P is so outgoing and friendly that she had struck up a conversation with the anonymous couple.

Millie was sitting at one of the small tables and across from her was Pamplemousse’s husband, who we will call Head Banger, a nickname I was guessing he had been dubbed in the past by Millie. If it hadn’t been for the fact I was severely hydrated, I might have peed my pants right there and then in excited. But as it were, I was so parched that when P passed me a cold glass tinkling with ice I threw it back and took a gulp before realizing it was wine from the hotel’s happy hour they had saved for me. Heat exhaustion and wine? Not the best combo, but hell, you only live once right?

We decided to refresh ourselves and then go out for supper. Pamplemousse followed me into my room (we were all staying on the same floor) and before I could warn her I had stripped off my sweaty shirt and replaced it with a fresh one. Yes, I flashed someone I had only met less than an hour before. It goes without saying that I’m both cheap and easy.

Once we had all reconvened in the lobby, we asked where we could find a good Italian restaurant (as Head Banger was craving pizza and where else would one assume you could get excellent pizza…or at least where could *I* assume to get excellent pizza), which the concierge recommended Bricco’s in the North End. They even called and scheduled reservations for us with enough lag time for us to walk leisurely from the hotel. It was then that I also got to meet Millie’s husband, E., and their adorable 10mos old daughter, L.E., who up till then had taken the time we were in the lounge to relax in their room. 

The walk to the North End was brief and we found Bricco’s easily enough. Since we were very early, we continued down the street and took in some of the sites and then doubled back around as we were soon closing the gap on our 8:30 reservation. The host told us they weren’t quite ready yet, but it wouldn’t be long. Unfortunately, he told us that in three different editions with the third time at around 8:50. Either Millie or Pamplemousse spotted another Italian restaurant, Lucca’s, across the street (let’s face it, though: they are ALL Italian) and I volunteered to run over to see if they had an opening, which thankfully they did.

While the food was good, there wasn’t a single pizza option on the menu. I think what we all enjoyed the most was L.E.’s sweet disposition even with as late as it was getting and being around strange faces and strange surroundings. We all got to witness a first: her first taste of garlic bread, which she gummed happily as if eating with a rapt audience was an everyday occurence.

By the end of the night when we all settled into our rooms, even if I was to leave the next day, my trip would have been well worth the angst. Would you believe that Millie and Pamplemousse wanted to spend even more time with me? That or they were playing a really cruel joke on me.

FRIDAY – Day 3 of Boston (Part 1 of 2)

You know, this would have been a whole lot easier if you all had just met me in Boston. Make a note of this particular point the next time I travel to see some bloggers, mmkay?

CousinP who I thought was going to be invisible once I made it to Boston actually called me every day to either make sure I was doing OK or to make some tentative plans for some activity or another. Friday morning I met CousinP down at Faneuil Hall and had a little walk amongst the shops and then over to Long Wharf. It was just a relaxed morning that passed pretty quickly so we took a break by having lunch at Tia’s and people-watched in the comfort of a warm breeze while sitting in the cool shade.

We followed up lunch with a stroll through the Haymarket. It was like walking through a living, breathing cornucopia but not just in the colors and smells of the produce, but in the blends of cultures and languages. I found it strangely beautiful in its organized chaos and didn’t get as wrenched up as I normally do in a tight crowd.

I mentioned to CousinP that I had hoped to take in one of the infamous Boston Duck Boat Tours, which in other trips to Boston Sparring Partner had scoffed. He hates playing tourist. Phooey on him. Once my ticket was secured, CousinP drove me to one of the start points of the tour and shortly after I climbed aboard one of the massive amphibious vehicles. I admit I was disappointed that of all the colors and patterns I had seen driving back and forth on the streets, the all-over brown was less than inspiring. Why, yes, I am petty. At least I scored a window seat, but since I was traveling solo, I had to share the second seat next to me with a stranger. STRANGE-r in every sense.

The tour ended at the same place it began, which in this instance was the Prudential Center. CousinP had only a couple of minutes during the time he dropped me off to try to explain what line on The T I needed to catch to get back to station closest to the hotel. Unfortunately, when I entered the station I was immediately overwhelmed because nothing seemed to jive with what CousinP had told me so I exited the station and figured that there was probably another close by (please, I can hear all of you who have traveled The T in the past laughing hysterically at my ignorance, so try to reign in the guffaws).

I decided to walk in what I had hoped was the general direction that led to the center of the Financial District where Faneuil Hall, and my hotel, could be found. If nothing else, I could flag down a taxi and be done with it. However, I soon found that flagging a taxi is only a possibility if you SEE a taxi. So I kept walking. The sights were familiar as we had passed them during the tour. I was getting hot and thirsty, but I kept walking.

And walking.

And walking.

And it kept getting hotter.

And hotter.

I was never so thankful than to see Boston Common and then to find myself walking in the Public Gardens. The same path I had taken with Serenity and Heather. I had avoided all the sidewalk vendors until then when I finally approached one to purchase a gator ade, which she was out of. I walked away with a large bottle of water, and while all I wanted to do was just sit on one of the benches and take a rest, I knew that if I did, my feet would hurt even more. So I just kept walking.

When I found myself within 15 minutes of the hotel, I received a phone call. It was Pamplemousse. She and Millie were at the hotel, enjoying the complimentary Wine Happy Hour and wondering where I was. I told her I would be there shortly, and with a new sense of purpose I plodded on in the heat.

I finally passed through the revolving doors of the hotel and literally into the arms of Pamplemousse who pulled me in for a hug even before my eyes had a chance to adjust to the dimmer lighting of the hotel.  There I was, being hugged quite soundly by a perfect stranger. Perfect, and no longer a stranger. The inspiration for the entire trip was standing in front of me with a huge smile on her face, just for me!