It’s normal to name your car, right? I know there isn’t anything odd about it because my cousin has a Toyota Camry she calls Cammy. I have always trusted my cousin, and this is why I trust that she wouldn’t be naming automobiles unless it was a trend shared by thousands of people around the world. I mean, you do have a name for your car, don’t you?
Oddly enough, I didn’t have a name for my 2005 Jeep Liberty. If it hadn’t died a few weeks ago, I suppose I could have dubbed it Sir Drives-a-Lot in honor of its six-digit mileage. I did love him. He was a Doggie Mobile, purchased solely to transport my Labrador Retriever, Maggie, to and from the park. She stayed in the waaayyyy back, so as not to cover the car with fur.
I figured Sir Drives-a-Lot was nearing the end of his life, but I wasn’t prepared for his demise, nor the mere 24-hours I’d have to buy a new car. If I had the luxury of time in making such an important purchase, I’d be driving a new vehicle with a tan leather interior. That was my only requirement. The gray Jeep seats were fabric and absorbed every single drop of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that I managed to spill on them. Stain City. Let’s call them “Cheep seats.” Years prior, I had a car with a leather interior and really missed the way liquid rolled off and cleaned up so easily. Anyway, I ended up purchasing a 2011 Nissan Sentra with a black leather interior. When my thighs sizzle in the driver’s seat after Virginia’s hot summer sun beats on them, I will regret this purchase.
For now, though, I couldn’t care about the color of the interior. I’ve got seat warmers, baby, and I’m lovin’ winter! The latter is a feature I’ve also missed since I bought the Jeep in 2007. And I’ve got XM radio and a built-in GPS and a sunroof and an Ipod adaptor-thingy and Bluetooth capability … and … and … and life is so good and sassy! I never knew I wanted these features in a car. Never mind that I look like I’m having a middle-aged crisis driving my new used car. I’m thinking the Nissan would be better suited to a twenty-something driver, but I love Ms. Sassarella Sentra and we’re going to have some zippy kind of fun. She is off limits to AA Hubby, who pilots his vehicle like it’s a bumper car and has the dents to prove it. As he writes in his post about his and our history of cars, he doesn’t care WHAT he drives anymore, but I am of the opinion that he doesn’t care HOW he drives it. I think I’ll name his Kia Captain Krunch. I present mylifethrucars.
Week Three of the new job down, still employed. Phew. One last time: I was laid off from my last job after a mere six months. This means I am hopeful to beat that length of employment with my new job. But things got off to a rough start during my first week. Things you need to know before I break it down:
- On a good day, my job is a 50-minute drive to and fro, from Alexandria, Virginia, to College Park, Maryland.
- I haven’t shared with my new employer that I’m on the breast cancer journey.
- With regard to #2, obviously, I’ve also kept the bit about radiation treatments to myself.
- With regard to #3, I have the treatments every weekday at 7:30am and I’m in and out of the hospital in 30-45 minutes.
- With regard to #1 and #4, I had to negotiate some work hour flexibility with my new employer when I accepted their offer; I told them I had surgery in December, I’m currently having “therapy,” and must go to appointments every morning through February. Arriving at work by 9am was no guarantee until March. They had no problem with this. (I love them.)
And, now, for the first week’s, er, “break down.”
Day 1, Monday: Blue skies, zero chance of precipitation.
Day 2, Tuesday: Figuratively, cloudy with a chance of rain.
The weather was fine, but my 2005 Jeep with 103,000 miles on it (I couldn’t afford a new vehicle while unemployed!) decided to emit smoke from under its hood the moment I pulled into the parking lot at work. AA Hubby drove to the office, left his car for me to drive home later, and spent three hours driving the Jeep to our Car Guy back home. Why three hours? Because it overheated every 15 minutes, and he had to pull over to let it cool down.
Meanwhile, back at the office, I had to explain to the woman training me why I was 15 minutes late and had black grease all over my hands. I’ll tell you what I told her: “My car overheated when I pulled in. I was trying to figure out how to open my hood to see where the smoke was coming from.” Crazy New Employee Alert #1.
Day 3, Wednesday: Figuratively, downpour with poor visibility.
Because the Jeep remained in the shop, I drove AA Hubby’s car to work. I take the Inner Loop (495) because of the stop at INOVA Fairfax hospital each morning. Do you know that DC Metro is the #1 worst area to drive in the country? It just recently acquired this “prize.” Do you know that on my third day of work there was an accident on 495 that, when I finally arrived at the office, my co-workers referred to as one of the top five worst commutes they had experienced? When I say I “finally” arrived, I mean that I was an hour late. Crazy New Employee Alert #2.
Day 4, Thursday: Figuratively, a blizzard worse than Nemo.
1) Arriving at the hospital, I realized I had left my cell phone home.
2) After radiation, while changing into my work clothes, I reached into my purse for the powder that I must apply after each treatment. It had opened, and the inside of my purse was a snowy white mess.
3) It gets better. Or worse. Driving my repaired Jeep along 495, I heard “Ding! Ding! Ding!” Seatbelt buckled? Yup. Doors shut? Yup. Engine thermometer-thing-a-ma-bob pinned at HOT? Yes. Well, it wasn’t so repaired after all, now was it?
I pulled over, let the good ole’ Jeep cool down, swore at myself for forgetting my phone, and started on my merry way again. For two miles. “Ding! Ding! Ding!” I pulled over, prayed a Mack truck wouldn’t plow into me on the side of the highway, swore some more, then took off again. For one mile, before we had a horrible repeat. I inched my way off 495 and to the nearest service station.
4) The service station was so kind. They let me leave the car there until Car Guy could tow the Jeep back to the shop, and they let me use their phone to call a cab.
5) A $30 cab fare later, I arrived at work. Two hours late, and apologizing for leaving my cell phone at home and the inability to call them and let them know where [the hell] I was.
6) Oh, we’re not done yet. All the while, AA Hubby was back in Alexandria having a colonoscopy. Yes, a colonoscopy. I couldn’t actually call Car Guy because his number was on my cell phone, and I’m senile and couldn’t remember the name of his shop. Honestly, I couldn’t remember the town in which my office was located when I had to tell the cab driver where I was going. Yes, I was that frazzled. So, anyway, I sent AA Hubby this email: “Call me on my work phone when the anesthesia wears off. Hope everything “came out” okay. Jeep overheated again.”
And, that, my friends, was Crazy New Employee Alert #3.
Thankfully, my new boss was extremely understanding. Despite the alerts, there was no “Crazy New Employee” labeling. I should also mention that, through it all, I worked until 6:30 or 7:00 each night to make up for my tardiness and, fortunately, I didn’t have any problems with the evening commutes. My son gave me a ride home Thursday night, AA Hubby drove me to and fro on Friday, I bought a new (used) car on Saturday, and I just found out this past Friday that I only have three more radiation treatments!
But, the most amazing thing: this past Wednesday, my boss gave me a bouquet of flowers just to thank me for all of my hard work. She doesn’t know the half of it. Really, how incredibly nice was she to give me flowers? I think I’m welling up a little thinking about it. Future forecast: Sunny and bright.
I did it again. I didn’t mean to, it just happened, as per usual. I turned into a blogging slacker. But I’m back, and I’ve got a ton o’ stuff to blog about. Fortunately, for you, for now, I’ve pared down all the stuff into a few little bits, like sound bites. We’ll call them blog bites.
1. I got a job! No, make that: I GOT A JOB!
I gave myself an unemployment grace period from September through December of 2012 (too bad my bills didn’t get that memo) because of Excuse #2, and morphed into Super Job Hunter at the start of the New Year. I went to two libraries – yes, two – and borrowed 20+ books about writing resumes and cover letters to beef up the hundreds of versions I had drafted since my layoff in May 2012, the hundreds that had yielded only a handful of interviews. Speaking of which, I also borrowed a book about interviews and prepared the heck out of myself for any possible question that might be thrown my way. We might say I was Super Duper Job Hunter. Happily, I landed a fundraising job that’s a perfect fit, at a great nonprofit, and started it on January 28. Yep, let’s go with Super Duper.
2. I’m radiating
Outwardly, I’m radiating joy and happiness; inwardly, radiation is obliterating any breast cancer cells that might be lingering. I started treatment and just completed Week 3 out of six. Then, why would I be radiating joy and happiness? Apart from the fact that I’m the living, breathing version of Big Happy Nothing, The Blog, I didn’t need chemo. Honestly, unbeknownst to most everyone, except for AA Hubby, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ride in the Unemployment and Health departments. Wheeeeeee! Poor AA Hubby. The last month, my mood swings and manic push for a job haven’t been conducive to blogging. Generally, though, I’ve also been Super Duper at keeping things in perspective, as I should, and I continue to be happy and grateful for early detection. (I think I just experienced a mood swing in those sentences.) So, by the way, ladies and gentleman, did you remind yourself or loved ones to get those mammograms on the calendar?
3. I’m cheating on you
When I did my first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC, in May 2012, it was before my diagnosis. Honestly, my dogs were kaput at Mile 39.3, and I had no intention of ever doing the walk again. But, then, there was that diagnosis.
And there was my Avon Team Captain, a woman who has done breast cancer research for 20 years and was an invaluable resource and friend to me as I worked through tough decisions regarding my options. She puts her heart, soul and feet into the Avon Walk, and is trying to grow the team and the funds it raises each year – this year’s goal is $100,000; last year, we raised nearly $90,000.
So, to repay her kindness, support her efforts and support the cause to find a cure, I signed up to walk again this year and I volunteered to help get the word out by revamping the team’s blog. Guess what? It’s a WordPress blog! I’ve been getting it ready for an imminent launch date, and you will be the first to know about it, dear followers.
If you’d like to help my team reach our goal, you can click here and then click on the “Donate to Team” button. All team donations are equally distributed among team members, so we can each reach Avon’s individual requirement of raising $1,800 to participate.
4. I’ve got Boob Tube commitments
AA Hubby and I have been pretty busy watching TV in our spare time. (Damn you, DVR!) This is either an excuse for 1) huge chunks of my time being unavailable for blogging; 2) not having any brain cells left for blogging. The culprits:
Downton Abbey – We just finished Season One. No spoilers, please!
American Idol – I now have an inner Nicki Minaj voice that has a nickname for everyone I meet.
The Biggest Loser – I need something to do while eating bags of chips on the couch. No, really, I need inspiration for dropping 20 pounds – doctor’s orders. I hate my doctor.
Ghost Adventures – New season, new laughs! I repeat: DUDE, I do NOT have a crush on Zak Bagans. I just love this show so much! But not as much as …
Long Island Medium – I’m busy re-watching old episodes, because I need my fix before Season Four starts in March. I.Love.Theresa.Caputo. She’s so freakin’ hilarious (“freakin’,” as Theresa would say).
Say Yes to the Dress – There are children starving around the world, and these brides cry when they can’t find the perfect dress for $2,500. Er, that’s a minimum of $2,500. Why wouldn’t I be captivated by these ladies? Plus, I love to see the dads cry when their daughters show their cleavage.
Enough with the excuses. Things are looking up, and I’ve got some good stuff to post about. It’s been a long time since I worked full-time and blogged, so I’ll gladly take advice on how to manage both. Somehow, I’ve got to work in training for the 39.3 Mile walk, too. So, if you work full-time, regularly exercise and faithfully blog, please tell me how it’s done. But don’t tell me I can’t watch all those TV shows! Well, I might be able to part with Say Yes to the Dress, but Zak and Theresa stay!
Before I go, a BIG HAPPY THANKS to any followers who haven’t given up on me and are reading this post! I’ve missed and look forward to reading by blogging buddies’ posts again!
In Big Happy Nothing’s infancy, I would post from my home in Connecticut about places I’d rather be. Did I stop writing those posts because “wanderlust” is no longer my favorite word? No. Did I suddenly become extremely content sitting in a recliner in the Nutmeg State? No. Let’s not forget that I moved to Virginia. So, is there no other place I’d rather be than the Old Dominion? Ha! If you guessed “no,” your answer is cold, very, very cold. I’d prefer a warm, very, very warm climate to shake the winter weather. I’d prefer St. John, USVI.
And, if I were in St. John, I’d want to be here, aboard a charter with Island Wilson Excursions. Go here, do this. You’ll love it.
See how happy AA Hubby and I are in the photo? See the captain? That’s Captain Wilson. He’s pretty happy, too. If my job was chartering people around the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands every day, I’d also be pretty darn happy. I urge you to visit his website and book your charter TODAY. Then post about it and make me cry. Go ahead. I’ll be fine. (His business is based out of St. Thomas, so you can vacation there if you want. St. John is better, though. Just sayin’. And he’ll pick you up there!)
I’ve posted about Captain Wilson a couple of times. It’s kind of creepy. I might be a stalker. But, read the history, and tell me if you blame me (it’s his fault, really):
- AA Hubby and I vacationed with friends in St. John in May 2011. We chartered with Captain Wilson aboard Big Blue, which was owned by another boat person. He took us to swim with sea turtles!
- We left St. John and returned to the United States; Captain Wilson left the USVI – with his swimming cat, Bob – and moved to a really cold Scandinavian country (not Norway, but he is forgiven); and Big Blue moved to Florida.
- Then, Captain Wilson and Bob moved to Germany. I think they chose it for the country’s warmer climate. Or really big pretzels.
- Then, he bought Big Blue and returned to St. John to start Island Wilson Excursions in November 2012. Apparently, Germany was not warm enough and cats don’t eat pretzels. Not to mention, have you ever heard of Bavarian Sea Turtles?
- Before starting Island Wilson Excursions, Captain Wilson had a contest to rename Big Blue. Because I am such an amazing punster (allow me to erase your doubt), I won the contest with my incredibly witty entry: Deja Blue. I’m not kidding; I won the contest – click here. And, yes, you read that correctly. I won a half-day charter, too.
Sea turtles, a swimming cat, picking my entry as the winner. Totally his fault for being stalked, right? By the way, notice anything wrong with that history? One captain, one cat, and one inanimate object returned to the USVI; AA Hubby and I have not. I eagerly await the day AA Hubby and I can return and redeem that prize.
I also attribute my stalking to the fact that, apart from knowing all of the best places to drop the hook or grab a mooring in and around St. Thomas, St. John and the BVI, Captain Wilson is a great flogger, er, blogger. Island Wilson’s Excursions: The Flog has all the content and photos you’ll need to convince yourself to book that vacation and charter. Because I read it, does that make me a “flollower?” Even that sounds better than “stalker.” Click these links to Captain Wilson’s posts about the boat getting transported on a ship from Florida to St. Thomas; here you’ll read about how the ship’s hull was flooded (crazy, I know!) to load the boat, and here you’ll read about her delivery.
One more – read his post about the christening and how one must interact with Poseidon.
I’m admittedly providing too many links in this post. Skip all the reading assignments and just book your charter with Captain Wilson. Support Bob. He needs cat food. And a kitty snorkel mask. And maybe some kitty swimming trunks.
Of course, if you like reading and you’re somewhere you don’t want to be right now, make yourself a rum drink and get Click Happy with the following. Taking you away from any holiday stress is my gift to you. Chartering Deja Blue on your Caribbean vacation can be your gift to me. I’m okay living vicariously from other people’s happiness. Honestly. (I’m genuinely happy for Captain Wilson and wish him much success in 2013 and beyond. If you know anyone vacationing in his neighborhood, tell them about Island Wilson Excursions, okay?)
May 22, 2011 – Big [Blue] Happy Birthdays, Mon
Here, I write about the May 2011 birthday extravaganza in which AA Hubby and friends and I chartered with Captain Wilson not once, but twice - in the same week. People, there are pictures of sea turtles in this post!
May 23, 2011 – The Jolie Pez Project: The Jolie in the U.S. Virgin Islands
With Captain Wilson at the helm, this post recounts our BVI nautical adventures with The Jolie.
June 6, 2012 – And the Fernleaf Yarrow Award goes to …
In this post, I deem Captain Wilson my hero because of the sea turtle encounter. Plus, there’s a picture of his cat swimming! Doggy Paddle? Pfft! Bob does the Kitty Krawl.
I surprised myself during this summer’s Branson road trip with a new fondness for all things hillbilly, acquired from several of the states AA Hubby and I traveled through to and fro. But mostly from Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia! Now, I hate to speak for other folks, but I think it’s safe to say that AA Hubby shares my fondness: he [legally] bought moonshine – in our new home state of Virginia – to give as Christmas gifts to our Yankee friends up yonder in Connecticut. (Dang! I hope they don’t expect us to drink it with them!) This yielded a themed gift basket, er, bucket, and approximately 72 hours of internet searching, shopping, designing and crafting to create the following items. (Oh, there are more – you know I love puns – but I’m going easy on you.)
I hope I don’t offend anyone, but, please, if I do, hit me with some Norwegian jokes. And don’t spare the Italian jokes for AA Hubby. Then, arrest us for running stop signs with a “creative license” because I’ll be in the kitchen making some Moon Pies to toss in the bucket; AA Hubby’s already made some hot sauce and dry rub, pictured below. Yep, we made those hillbilly wine glasses, too. Maw and Paw have been busy, ya’ll! Got any cures for Pinterest withdrawal, by the way?