2019-09-29 Austin Day 2 and 3 and Done

It’s really been more than a day, but a full itinerary doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflection or writing.

Saturday we had a girls spa day followed by an evening out with a group of 5 of us. Steph couldn’t make it up from Galveston because she was not feeling well so that was kind of a bummer. We had a good day though.

We started the day with brunch out. The spa was in the same shopping plaza so that was a nice brief walk under an overcast sky. In the afternoon their was rain and thunder and it would have been a good time for a nap but I couldn’t quite calm my brain enough for that and settled on doing my mid-term summaries for school instead.

Then as evening approached we all got dressed up (including pink hair this time) and then headed back out for dinner and drinks at the galleria. I had a tipsy bit too much and just rolled with the crew to a cocktail/boutique bar. That’s a thing. It’s a combo place with different setups for tables and chairs and decor and art and it’s all for sale. Not like you buy your chair and take it home with you, but it’s all stuff they sell that you can order. Wild right?!

I don’t need any thing, so it was just about the cocktails and conversation. That was good. Then we coasted home. The boys were our designated drivers and when we arrived home Rebecca poured us another and we sat out on the back patio. I was sure I was going to wake just sick, but I didn’t. Amazing.

I did, however, not get very much sleep (about 5.5 hours according to Fitbit) and am feeling just exhausted now. Today has been the most chill day yet, but something about knowing I am leaving causes a situation where I just can’t relax.

I’m on the first plane now, waiting to take off and feel like I could just fall asleep. I may just close my eyes and see what happens.

***

One flight down and one to go and I’m just wiped out. The good news is that I’m being picked up at techie airport and don’t have to walk to find my car and drive. I’m also in pretty good shape for my day tomorrow so I should get great sleep tonight. It was a quick trip but I’m glad to be heading for my own bed… and seeing Jim and the kids.

I don’t see a lot of travel in my near future and after discussions with my peeps I apparently have more wedding planning to do soon to stay on top of things. I don’t even want to think about that right now though. Right now.. I’m all about just getting my ass on this last plane and getting home.

That pretty much sums things up. ✅✅✅

Until next time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-28 Austin Day 1 – Chillin in 90 Degree Heat

Yesterday was a very chill day with fam and a mostly normal Friday routine. I’m on holiday but they still have work and kids that go to school and activities to manage.

In the morning I had a fair amount of time to walk and think and then when Rebecca hit her stopping point with work we took to the neighborhood streets to do more walking and catching up.

She took the afternoon off and we met up with our other friend at her house on Lake Travis. Technically, she explained, their house is on a wide channel of the river that forms the lake, but the channel is so wide, it doesn’t resemble a river at all. It’s an incredible view from their back patio and we sat and had a drink and just talked.

Then the three of us went to this place called “The Reserve” which is also on the “lake”, which is kind of like a resort/local club/pool with restaurants and a bar and pools for kids and adults and a lazy river. We walked the lazy river for a couple of hours, with more drinks when the bar opened up. With school back in session the place was practically deserted. Apparently this is the last weekend it will be open which seems incredible to me. It’s still so, so hot.. if I had a membership I would keep going there well into the fall. But I guess these temps are atypical this time of year even for Texas.

I got pretty tipsy by the time we were wrapping up the session at the pool and was just coasting with whatever was planned next. That turned out to be dinner back at the house with the kids and more chill conversation on the back patio after the sun went down.

There were no clouds and the sky was so clear. Both Saturn and Jupiter were in view but no Orion’s Belt or dipper I could see There was very little moon so there were more starts visible and being this south of town it’s approaching the darkness possible as you drive west in Nebraska. There’s the faint glow of a band across the sky and I know, it’s the light from clusters of stars We can’t see. You have to be so many miles away from civilization with no moon and clear skies, like in the Badlands, to see those stars.

To see a sky that is more stars than sky. The light of some of those stars are only echoes of light that used to exist. In the time it takes to travel to our eyes, the star may have met it’s last day. It’s such a wild thing to think about. And the perspective of that can shift your thinking. I know it changes mine.

I went to bed fairly early again, exhausted from the long day of relaxation and conversation. My head was actually pounding and I was afraid the pain of it would spill over into my sleep and the next day. Today, I’m going to try for a little less drinking and a little more of everything else. 🙂

XOXO, ❤️

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-26 The In-Between Place 🌍 ☀️ 💚

It’s no secret I don’t care for air travel, but something about a solitary journey through the sky changes my mind. Not about the flying, but a shift of thought, deeper, more clear. Brighter perhaps.

Lifting off the ground I’m physically detached from the me that exists on the ground. The mother, daughter, lover, friend, student ceases to exist. Suspended briefly in not existing. Unburdened. This freedom from ties to a life creates within me a space where other things bloom.

If I was on the ground, I might call this a daydream of sorts but here, in the air, the definition of it eludes me. I like not having a word which means how I feel right now. That too, is freedom. Freedom from words and definition and rules that govern language. It’s just me here with nonsense and it’s ok because there is no we or him or her or them or us, except us, in this in-between place.

I can wonder about the river, overflowing and how beautiful it looks from here and how magnificent it is to see whole cottonwood trees swallowed in it. From here it’s a child napping. It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s a marvelous gift from Mother Nature. And I can wander around this, like the river and splay my mind in so many directions and it doesn’t have to mean anything. Tragedy doesn’t have to be tragedy. Pain and loss can be sweet cotton candy rolling across the sky.

There’s no consequence of thought in this suspended dimension. This existence is a wide angle lens. Here, I may even be able to admit that I do believe in God. Or not-God. Or the infinite formulations of atoms and sub-atomic particles that travel between God’s not-dimensions, like bees communicating in their bee language, beyond our comprehension. What secrets and predictions they must have.

And with this lens, I can see the earth from space, a tiny blue orb, tied to the sun, like I am tied to it by a man made word – gravity. And I can see her shine In the glow of the sun, with her cancer eradicated. In Remission for a time, let’s call it, a man-made ice age.

A beautiful planet, magnificent and overgrown with new life now that the human beings have all gone. The particles of their souls dispersed to other universes and so she turns. A pirouette around the sun that is no longer a sun because the language of man has been extinguished too.

The whales have their songs again and such joy in the freedom to roam. The birds, too, rejoice in song, and none lament the end of an era. The river swells and turns into another nameless ocean and in it, the most beautiful coral not-man has ever seen!

***

That’s probably enough nonsense and not-thought for now. I will be returning soon, to the good ground and the reality of language and people and communication and, yes, responsibility. Though, I’m going to try my best not to worry about all those ties too much while I’m in Texas. I’ll exist, but I probably won’t be as tuned-in as I normally am.

Peace and love,

🌏🐝☀️💚🐳🌺

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-31 NYC Wrap-Up 🍎

Final thoughts and stats on NYC:

1. Four Gallons of Milk consumed by the crew, plus a dozen eggs, 8 bags of microwave popcorn, 3 packages of cookies, two containers of strawberries, 6 salmon fillets, one and a half loaves of bread, One 3 pound bag of oranges, 3 boxes of crackers, and one Big Apple.

2. 24+ glasses and 10+ plates to wash every damn day (seriously, can’t people use the same glass twice?!?)

3. 80808 steps walked in 6 days (13466 average per day).

4. Average of 6 hours of sleep per night.

5. Too many sub-par cheeseburgers, slices of thin crust pizza, and hot dogs to mention.

6. 6 trips on the subway. Only once did we get on the wrong one and had to nav to the right one.

7. about 6 über rides, one that made us all afraid for our lives and also want to throw up the contents of our empty stomachs.

8. One panic attack (by yours truly).

9. Five 90+ degree days, with rain occurring overnight only once.

10. 765 Pokemon caught (by Z and C and I) and many, many battles won and lost.

11. 8 trips to Times Square, 5 to the corner grocery, 3 to Dunkin, 2 to Gotham Pizza, and 1 to Hells Kitchen in Hells Kitchen.

12. Not enough time to do everything but very, very glad to be back home.

That is enough. Time to get back to business as usual.

Peace Out,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-30 NYC Day 5 – A Girl and Her Limits

Nothing like trying to remember exactly what life was like 48 hours and 1,241 miles ago, especially when traveling has created a haze around everything. Where was I at again? Oh yeah, New York City. It was a Monday in the year 2019 and I was just a girl traveling with her family and trying to do every last damn thing… which pushed me to my limit.

Our first stop that Monday was to the new One World Trade Center. The time was 9:30AM. We had tickets to go up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor and experience NYC from the highest point in the city. From there, you can walk 365 degrees around and see for miles in all directions. Their slogan, “See Forever” feels spot on. You can see to the edges of earth where it starts to curve under. The advertised “experience” included a bunch of electronic nonsense — iPads, video clips, and interactive displays. As if being shot up 100 floors in less than 45 seconds and pondering life from such a height wasn’t good enough. Guess I’m just a simple girl.

The second stop of the day was a short walk from the new trade center. It was the memorial site and museum for the original buildings that were destroyed on 9/11. All of the 16 acres of land where the original seven buildings stood has been reconfigured into new buildings, a green space, and a memorial and museum. We did a 1 hour guided tour and also walked around the area above ground where the twin towers stood.

Those two locations have now been transformed into a pair of water features where the water descends into the middle past where the eye can see and the stone on the perimeter of the pools has the names of all persons who lost their lives etched in it. That was quite touching and the tour even more so. Our guide did a great job walking us through the museum and relaying information about the day, the towers, the structural collapse of the buildings, stories of people involved in escaping, rescue, recovery, and clean up in the months to follow.

I learned a great deal of new information and was moved to tears watching video of the bringing down and “laying to rest” one of the great concrete columns. The city has done a fantastic job with the space and it was time well spent.

Our third stop of the day, and last ticketed attraction, was the cruise out to the Statue of Liberty and trek up inside the statue. This was also memorable, but for very different reasons. This, “pilgrimage”, if you will, is a thing that most tourists who visit NYC do. An icon of the city and of our nations history, it is one of the most toured sites in the country. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people piling onto the cruise ships which departed about every 20 minutes. It was a massive moving crowd of human bodies on and off and through three different airport like security checkpoints. If they were going for the “huddled masses” effect, they were successful.

We had also not eaten since breakfast (and some of us don’t eat breakfast) so we also had the pleasure of being packed into the food court for what was arguably the worst cheeseburger I have ever had. Let’s make that official – Crown Cafe Cheeseburger, a solid 1 (terrible) on a 5 point scale. TO be fair, Jim had the “New York burger” and said it was delicious. There were lots of cooks on the grill and perhaps our line cook was having an off day. To make matters worse, our tickets to go up in the statue were for 3PM and we were pressed for time and had to eat in about 5 minutes.

We gobbled the food, headed for the statue at a good clip, and then proceeded to climb the 215 steps that are inside the pedestal of the statue. Bear in mind, by this time of the day the heat was at its peak and there was a heat advisory on the island. I got to the top of the pedestal, quite winded, where you can walk outside and look. I took my time walking around and would have taken longer, but the rest of the crew were impatient to go up to the crown. They only allow a few folks a day up there and we bought our tickets months ago.

They let us through the roped-off section to the stairs that led up into the top of the pedestal where the statue is secured to the base. That is as far as I got. The next stairs to climb were a tight spiral that wound around the center of the statue. When I say tight, I mean narrow and steep, and confining. Once you commit to going up, there is no going back down. You have to get all the way to the top before you can descend down the other side of the spiral. I got about 20 steps up and a panic came over me. I felt trapped and hot and dizzy and nauseous. I went back down those 20 steps and waited at that level, alone, while the rest of our crew went up and came back down.

That is the first time in my life I was not able to do something because of a panic. I’ve been afraid of things before – rollercoasters, public speaking, driving up and around cliffs on mountainsides, scuba diving, snorkeling – and at no time have I ever let that fear get the best of me. It’s just all in the head, you know. You have to push past it and things always turn out just fine. This was different though. This felt less like a mental block and more like an actual physical limitation. As I stood there alone I briefly tried to talk myself into heading up and then, upon realizing it was not going to happen, I instead tried to reason out why my body was reacting the way it was.

All I could think is that it must have been the perfect storm to create such a commotion inside. The heat, the emotional draining from seeing the 911 memorial, the being packed on a rocky boat, the pounding food into an empty stomach, the physical exhaustion from climbing the first set of stairs, the lack of a break in-between hikes around the island and up. All of these things culminated in my having a meltdown at the base of the steps that led up to the crown. All these things were responsible, I told myself, and not just a simple fear of being trapped. It couldn’t be just that. I sat down and wept. It was the second time I cried that day and would not be the last.

When Jim and the kids came back down, we all descended the rest of the stairs together and once back inside the air-conditioned lower level, both Jim and Z took me aside separately to ask me what happened. I still couldn’t say anything more than “I just couldn’t do it”. Z put her arm around me and gave me a light squeeze. Then Jim did the same. That’s when the tears came again. I just wanted to be done, and magically transported back to the apartment, back to a cool place to rest. There was no magic, of course and It would take about 2 more hot, sweaty, physically and emotionally draining hours to get back home.

***

That evening would be our last in the City. I didn’t want to waste it and was quite sick of “vendor and cafe” food. The area we were located is called “Hells Kitchen” which is named partially because the area is so densely packed with exceptional restaurants. We had only been at a sit down place twice the entire trip and that was a damn shame. It was mostly easier to satisfy the kids needs by eating a quick slice a pizza or hot dog or hamburger on the go.

So after our recovery Jim and I went out to a real restaurant, just him and I. I wanted to go to the “Hell’s Kitchen” restaurant which was literally less than a block from our apartment. It was Mexican food and a margarita sounded like the perfect refreshing start of the evening. It was.

We had a great meal and got a buzz on over our tacos and nachos. It felt like a normal night out at home. It also gave me the pep I needed to venture out, one last time, to Times Square with Z. Everyone else was over it, but realizing that it was our last opportunity, we went for it.

Jim stayed back with the boys so it was a girls only night out. We hit the Disney store and one of a dozen “I ❤️ NYC” souvenir stores. We stopped in at the McDonald’s to get her fries and a soda, “dinner of champions” in the heart of Manhattan. We sat at a table between the streets and giant electronic billboards. We caught some more Pokémon and laughed a lot and then wandered back, carefully avoiding the group of mini-mouses and other cartoon characters. It was a great night and a good end to our Big adventure in the Big Apple.

There’s more to write (and remember) as always. Words that go forever and curve under the edges of the earth. But even the longest day has to end sometime and this one is quickly fading into the haze.

Next Stop.. Nebraska!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-29 NYC Day 4 – An Afternoon at Coney Island

Sunday was a day we didn’t book anything and really kind of left open so we could either rest and recover or do something else that folks were in the mood for. For the current crew, this meant a little of both. Two of our four kids really wanted to experience Coney Island while the other two wanted to veg at home base. I really wanted to stick close to home and maybe go back to Central Park or the MET but it was Z who initially had done the research and decided that Coney Island was something to see so I really needed to support that and make sure we followed through.

It was another sweltering day, highs in the 90s, and not only is there very little indoor space on the boardwalk for relief from the heat, there was also practically no shade where one could hide from the sun. It took about an hour to get from where we were in Manhattan to the southern tip of Brooklyn where the “park” is. We walked up and down the boardwalk by the beach and bought ride tickets. I used to be a fan of thrill rides, but as I get up in years, the appeal is waning. Still, Z loves rollercoasters and fast drops and anything that makes your heart beat irregularly and puts your stomach in your throat and I wanted her to have fun so we rode together.

We waited in line for rides for an average about 20 minutes a ride, and really only rode like 5 or 6 things. We waited in line at Nathan’s for hot dogs for about 45 minutes which was incredibly painful and then at the beach rest rooms (the only public restroom I found all around the park) for abut 30 minutes. The whole afternoon was spent waiting in the hot sun for this and that and I kept thinking, I’m getting too old for this. The kids had fun though and when the sun started to go down, it cooled off considerably. Of course then the lines got longer. We were going to ride one more ride, but the wait probably would have exceeded an hour, so we called it done. In hind site, we should have waited until later in the day to go, but we didn’t really know what to expect.

I’m sure there was a lot that we missed, which was clear as we were on our way out of the park. There were several more blocks farther away from the beach that we never explored. There were older rides, like the ferris wheel which we were sure were not a part of the park we bought ride tickets from (which was called “Luna Park”). Still, the kids were satisfied so we were satisfied.

Arriving back at our apartment, we chilled out for a while, then went down the block for food, and then Z and I walked a little more playing PokemonGo. Oh to be a teenager with that much energy. It wore me out. I also knew we had an early day on Monday (and a lot of activities booked) so I wanted to get to sleep at a decent time.

At this point, things just moved so fast through the end of the trip, there was very little time to sit down and reflect and write on the day’s activities. No more sleeping in for the kids, no more relaxing mornings walking to the local grocery and planning out the day.

No Time to Waste,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-28 NYC Day 3 – Have Subway Ticket Will Travel

Much like the two previous days, we let the kids sleep in and only really got started with our day when everyone was up and ready. Yesterday was a hot one here in the big city and so after Z and I returned for our walk around the current blocks and reported that that it was quite unbearable, we delayed our departure even further. The agenda could wait for the sun to dip down a little so as to provide shade from the towering buildings that are impossibly everywhere.

All this to say, we did not leave our apartment until about 3:30 in the afternoon. This seems like wasting a day, but it still feels like we did a heck of a lot of stuff.

We walked to the subway, yellow line, and got on at 49th street headed south toward China Town and Little Italy. Arriving at the nearest stop, we departed and walked several more blocks on Canal street to where Google Maps said was the central spot. I kept thinking Google Maps was wrong. For sure most businesses were clearly Chinese and the lettering everywhere was a giveaway, but it did not have the “feel” I was expecting.

I’ve been to China Town in San Fran and so I guess that is more what I was expecting, lanterns strung across the streets and lots of little shops with souvenirs. There were lots of shops, and food markets, and restaurants, but we didn’t really stop to check them out. Well, the boys went into a fish market to see what that was like. We got enough of a smell from it from the outside and didn’t go in.

Little Italy is adjacent to Chinatown and we had passed it on our way, so we doubled back to explore that area. That was more like what I expected. Some of the streets were blocked off and were for pedestrian traffic only. There were gobs of people walking everywhere and we just walked among the crowd taking it all in. The goal before we left that area was to have a nice meal.

We walked to a place called Lombardos which is famous for something I guess but when we arrived the line was out the door and we had 4 teenagers growing more hangry by the minute. No joke. Both sets of siblings were at each other something quite fierce and the wait would have been a disaster.

Instead we doubled back again and found a place called Grotta Azzurra Ristorante. It was a sit down place where we were given a large table in the middle of the restaurant and spent over an hour and a half on a lovely meal. I had red wine and the chicken parmesan and the kids split a pepperoni pizza and had sodas. It was delicious. It was also nice to sit in the AC for that long.

After that we headed straight for the subway again with the plan being to head back north and past the stop which would be our exit for home base and get off on 77th street instead. A short distance from that stop was the Met (or Metropolitan Museum of Art) on 5th avenue, just inside the east side of Central Park. I don’t remember that from the Central Park tour we took on Thursday so that leads me to believe that the park is just way bigger than I think it is.

The Met itself is, of course, huge, and we arrived late in the day. We only had about 2 hours to wander the endless rooms of history. It’s more than just an art gallery, it’s a record of the people and cultures from so many eras of human kind. The cool things that we saw were numerous and after such a long day of a lot of walking, I’m sure that there is a lot that we missed just because of our short attention spans. Our group split up there and Jim and his half went one way and me and mine went another. Later in the evening when we came back together we compared notes and found that there really was, indeed, quite a lot that we had each missed. Our tickets are good through Monday so perhaps we will go back.

After all that adventure, we successfully avoided a repeat of what happened the previous night, which was teenagers complaining at 9 and 10 and 11PM that they were bored. Instead, they were all so tired they just wanted to be left alone in their rooms.

If I’m accounting everything, which I am attempting to do, I will also note that Miss Z complained that her head hurt during the day today and though she crashed out and went to sleep at about 9:30, she was up again close to 11PM with a migraine and it was a bad one. She got sick and I stayed up with her until just past 1am. Poor, sweet thing.

I myself can’t sleep much past 7 so it was a short night for me. We’ll see how everyone feels today about our first trip out of Manhattan. If there has been enough recovery, we’re headed back south and into Brooklyn. I want to see and do as much as possible, but it is just past 9AM now and I’m already feeling like I need a nap. Perhaps I should try and go back to bed.

Day turns into Night turns into Day,

~Miss SugarCookie