Up up and away

I love to travel. I also love to people watch. Flying gives me the opportunity to do both.

I’ve never been one to sleep on planes. I can’t relax enough. I get too keyed in to the noise around me….people talking and moving around in their seats, papers shuffling, rifling through bags, coughing, etc. Plus I get paranoid about people watching me or doing things to me. Hey, don’t judge.

Since I don’t sleep, I’ll usually read. Most of the time that’s enough to fill the time.

That wasn’t the case on my most recent flight though. I was on a flight from Omaha to Newark and it was about 3 hours. Not terribly long, but long enough. I read for about an hour. Closed my eyes for a few minutes but to no avail. A girl’s gotta try. So, that’s when the people watching kicks in. I watch and observe and put together stories in my mind as to what their lives are like.

First there was my seat mate. Here are the deets:

  • Early 30’s and married
  • Dress is casual but hip – dark wash jeans, salmon colored button up
  • Thin build with a shaved head.
  • He is reading a book on how to grow and stretch yourself on the job.
  • Old Timex watch
  • Unfriendly – never said a word to me the whole flight
  • Germaphobe. At one point, he bumped me with his elbow while getting his book out and immediately recoiled and wiped his elbow. A bit later, when handing the stewardess some trash, his arm grazed mine twice and he visibly shifted in his chair, wiped his arm, and I think he might have shuddered.
  • But, he has B.O.

Here’s the story I made up in my head about him.

His name is Ethan. He’s married to Alisha and they have 2 little kids. He has a job where he has to travel a lot, probably a consultant of some kind, and he’s trying to climb his way up the ladder. He wife buys his clothes because she wants him to be trendy and look good at work. He’s gotten used to it. The job requires him to interact with people to get sales. That doesn’t come naturally to him. He is introverted but forces himself to be extroverted at work. All that “show” is exhausting so he only does it when he has to. He doesn’t like all the travel but it’s necessary. Airplanes are full of germs. Hotels are full of germs. At least he gets a lot of Hyatt points. Also, flying makes him nervous… and a 3 hour flight? Deodorant failure waiting to happen. He senses that he’s a little ripe so he physically moves away from me on the plane. He’s embarrassed by it. Appearance and impressions are everything. Besides, what could he have in common with a tatted up chick? It’s best to keep reading until the flight is over.


On the flight home, I sat next to a lady who wanted to talk but was socially awkward. I tried to be nice and chat some but also give her hints that I wanted some space and not to be bothered. She did not get the hints.

  • Late 40s or early 50s, married with 2 older kids (she told me this)
  • Long blonde hair, partially pulled back. It’s starting to come loose though
  • She’s wearing peach pants and a matching cardigan, with a flowered shirt underneath
  • She has a half empty cup of ice in the seat pocket, a long with a big black binder and file folder
  • She’s looking at her phone but is turned so that she is leaning against the wall and holding the phone toward me me…almost like she is filming me with it
  • She squirms a lot

Here is her story:

Her name is Ellen. She works for a transportation company doing research. She travels around the country meeting with buyers. Her husband is an accountant and works a lot…all the travel has made them estranged. Her oldest is off to college and her youngest is starting high school. She has ADHD. It’s hard for her to sit still and concentrate, especially on a long flight. She tries to do some work but gets bored. She looks to see what I’m doing (which is reading) and turns so that she can read it too. She’s also very nosy. She’s curious about me so she starts asking random questions….how long have I been married? Do I have kids? Why am I traveling? Where do I work? When I turn back to my book, she shifts in her seat and tries to sleep. She’s tired from the week away but can’t quiet her mind. She thinks about home and her family. Her son will be working or out with friends when she gets home. Her daughter probably locked in her room watching TV. Her husband will be in his home office working. No one will even notice when she returns home. She’s lonely. She thinks about next week and how she’ll be traveling again. She needs a break. She turns to me and smiles a sad, tired smile and says she is glad to be home. It sounds forced and she knows it.


I wonder what stories people make up about me? Do they think I travel a lot? Do they wonder if I’m a badass because I have a tattoo on my wrist? Do they observe me reading and not talking and assume I am quiet and introverted? Do I look like a wife and mom? Do I look like someone in technology or in management?

I guess we never know what impressions we give off to others and how accurate their assumptions are. We’ll probably never know. And how easy it is to change those impressions by simply changing what you wear, what you do, what you eat, or how you act.

Who do you want to be on your next flight?

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From Samson to Sandy – part 2

In my previous post, I told the story of how our Samson died. Losing a pet is horribly painful and it takes a lot of time to heal. I would think of him at random times – driving by a dog park, seeing someone walk a dog by the house, coming home from work and not having him greet at the door. Those moments stung a lot at first but got less and less over time.

As I mentioned before, I wanted another dog and was ready after a few months. I wanted a medium to big dog, preferably a rescue, though the specific breed didn’t matter as much. CJ however needed more time. He felt like we would be replacing Samson, which didn’t feel right.

So, I took cues from him and patiently waited.

After about a year, CJ started to feel more open and ready for another dog. We weren’t actively looking. We knew the Universe would bring us the right dog at the right time. CJ actually sat one night and talked to the Universe, asking for a dog.

A short time later, CJ went in to the dentist for a cleaning and saw a picture on the wall of 3 Labrador dogs. He commented to the receptionist that we used to have a yellow Lab and what a great dog he was. She asked if we were looking for another one and mentioned that one of the hygienists had a rescue dog that she was trying to find a home for.

A female Yellow Lab/Whippet mix named September.

CJ came home and told me. I was all for at least pursuing it but I also knew it needed to come from him. I could not force him in to this. After thinking it over for a few days, he said he wanted to find out more. We learned she was a rescue. She had been found as a puppy abandoned in a barn and was taken in by a young couple. They named her September because that’s when she was found.

The original owner got ahold of us and sent a few pics of Sandy as a puppy.

Turned out she was a rascal with a lot of energy and chewed up their stuff – including the walls of the house. My guess is that they didn’t play with her or give her a constructive outlet for her energy so she took care of it herself by finding stuff to chew on. It’s what puppies do! So they handed her off to someone else. We don’t know the full history but we know she was passed from house to house several times. We also know she was kept chained outside at a couple of them.

At the last place she was kept in a barn. She tried to escape through a window at one point and tore her shoulder up on the glass. The “man” of the house wanted to take her out back and shoot her but instead they dropped her off at the Humane Society anonymously. The Humane Society was going to put her down because of her injury until this hygienist found out about her and offered to take her home. She is the one that nursed her through the injury. However, she was single, living with her mom and had 2 dogs of her own so she couldn’t keep September long term.

That’s where we come in.

We agreed to meet them at a nearby park so we could see what her personality was like and more importantly, how she was around kids. Samson was amazing with the girls but not all dogs will stand for the way kids show their “love” to dogs…

I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her.

She seemed small to me then but only because we were used to a dog Samson’s size. She was sweet and came right up to us. She let all of us pet her, and didn’t seem bothered by the girls at all. She even licked me!

We decided that night to take her and arranged for me to pick her up after work on Friday November 11th, 2016. When I got there, she jumped right in the car and though she seemed a little nervous she didn’t try to leave.

I had a few errands to run so I took her with me to get gas and pick something up from a friend. She was great the whole time. As we would drive she just laid there. I made sure to talk to her and pet her and she really liked that. She would lick my hand or lay her head on it. Dogs have a good sense about people and I think she knew immediately that we were different from the others and this would be a good home.

When we got home she was hesitant to go inside and seemed skittish once we got her in there. She sniffed around some and then I let her outside – and she refused to come back in. I tried to call her and offered her treats but she wouldn’t budge. I tried leaving her alone thinking maybe she’d eventually get chilly and ask to come in. Nope. Finally as a last resort, I grabbed a toy they sent with her and squeaked it. She came running in and that seemed to be the magic bullet needed to open her up.

She does lover her squeaky toys!!

She ran around the house exploring and getting familiar. She let the girls pet her and she made her self comfortable on the furniture.

Sandy has been our angel and I truly believe Samson sent her to us. She is the opposite of him in a lot of ways which is just what we needed so that it didn’t feel like a replacement of Samson but rather a new addition. Where he was a bull in a China shop, she is graceful. Where he was a rascal, she is sweet. Samson was full of energy and always had to be kept busy. Sandy is content just to just be around us, though occasionally she gets a big burst of energy and will tear off around the house! When she does that we yell “Sandy’s on the run! Take cover!!”

Samson was a rescue that was passed around a lot too and he dealt with it by being distant and not getting too close. Sandy however compensated for the years of abuse by being extra loving to us – she loves to snuggle, give kisses, and wants to be constantly near us. As I write this out on the patio, she is right at my feet, close by.

There are some ways in which she is like Samson. She has a strong mouth and can destroy a “regular” toy in under 30 seconds so we have to get her the super strong ones made for tough chewers. She’s also super smart. We trained her to ring bells on the door when she needs to go outside and she is never fooled by our games when we try to trick her during catch. She’s also incredibly fast and athletic.

We do see some adverse affects of the abuse. She doesn’t like a lot of men. She’s never had any issues with CJ or my dad but does with most other men. They make her nervous and she’s been known to bite so we have to put her upstairs when we have guests over. She also doesn’t get along well with other dogs. We found out early on that she hates to be confined in any type of space. She will not go in a kennel nor is she comfortable in a room with the door closed – even if one of us is with her. Clearly that’s from the years of being chained up and locked in the shed.

But other than that, she’s perfect.

That’s the story of our Sandy. She is the most loving and well behaved dog. We’ve never had problems with her chewing our things, having accidents, being aggressive or anything like that. She’s been wonderful and we couldn’t have asked for a better follow-up to Samson.

She is also a good example, showing that despite being bullied, abused and treated as less than, she still has an amazing capacity to love. That’s a lesson we could all learn.

I hope we have many more years with this sweet girl. Samson knew we needed a fur kid that would give our hearts the love and care that they needed and he found us the right dog for the job.

From Samson to Sandy – Part 1

Even though I’ve mentioned Sandy, and talk a little bit about her on the “Family” page, I’ve never shared her full story. Nor have I shared about how Samson died. I know death isn’t a very pleasant topic but it wouldn’t be right to introduce Sandy without first closing the book on Samson.

As I’ve shared in the various Samson Stories , he was a one of a kind dog. He was handsome, energetic, strong, stubborn, OCD, emotionally unavailable, exceptionally smart (too smart for his own good), so-so in the loyalty department, mischievious, and playful.

[Wow, he sounds like a bad ex-husband.]

Boy did I love him.

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He lived to be 9 years old. Toward the end he had put on some weight and slowed down considerably. We thought the lack of playfulness and energy was attributed to his age and increased stature. That is until Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.

I knew something wasn’t right. He had stopped eating and was isolating himself. If you know anything about dogs, you know that is not a good sign. So after the long holiday weekend, we took him in to the Vet. They did blood work and X-rays and decided to keep him there for observation – or at least until he would start eating again.

They gave him some pain medicine and finally he started eating. However, they also determined that his increased size probably wasn’t due to overeating but instead was likely a tumor of some sort. A big one. There was no way to know if it was cancerous without opening him up. We thought about it and decided surgery was the best route. If the tumor was benign, they would cut it out and he’d be home again in no time. If it was cancerous then we’d likely have to put him down as there are very few times when they can do anything for a dog with cancer.

Next came another hard decision. By this time it was Friday and we had to decide if we wanted him to stay at the Vet’s office over the weekend so they could keep an eye on him or if we wanted to take him home and then back on Monday. However, there was a slight risk that the tumor could rupture if he moved the wrong way and he would internally bleed to death. I wanted him home because I missed him so much but I also didn’t like the idea of putting his life at risk. I would never forgive myself if we brought him home for our own selfish reasons and then something happened and we couldn’t save him. So we opted for him to stay at the clinic.

Saturday morning we took the girls to see Samson and we all spent some time petting and loving on him. He had more pep in his step but still wasn’t quite himself.

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Monday was the day of the surgery and I wanted to see him again before they operated. This time CJ and I went alone. I knew there was a very real possibility that this could be the last time I saw him so I didn’t want to miss out on any opportunity to snuggle one more time.

He was about the same as he had been on Saturday. I wanted him to come sit by me and let me snuggle with him but he wouldn’t do that. He kept getting up and wandering away. I told him how much I loved him. I felt a strong urge to just keep saying it over and over so he would really know.

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At one point, I grabbed a hold of his face and kissed his nose. I looked in to his eyes and he looked right back. Samson was not one to do that. He generally looked away. That’s just how he was. But this time he held my gaze and I felt like he was telling me good-bye and that it was going to be ok. He then gave me a lick, turned and walked toward the door to leave the room. We said one final good-bye and left.

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Now the hard part came – waiting to hear back from the doctor on what they discovered. We were hanging around the house, killing time and but neither of us could concentrate. Finally the call came – the tumor was filling his spleen, spilled out in to his abdomen and was also in his liver. There was no way they could cut it out and it was likely cancerous. So we could have them sew him up and bring him home for a few more days until the cancer took him on its own or we could have them put him down, while he was already on the table and asleep. We chose to put him to sleep. It was not an easy decision but yet it was really the only one.

He died on June 1, 2015.

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In a matter of a week we had gone from one big happy family to losing our fur baby. We cried off and on the entire day. We held each other. We called our families. We told the girls but they didn’t really understand (Isabella was 5 and Cora was 2). At one point in the afternoon, the girls were napping and CJ went out to the store. Alone, I found one of his favorite blankets, took it outside and laid down in his “spot” of the yard and cried. It was a beautiful afternoon and laying on the grass in the sun, I felt him there with me. I talked to him in my mind telling him how much I loved him and missed him. That we’d never forget him.

I was out there for about an hour. By the end I felt a sense of peace and though I still mourned for him for months to come, I was much more at ease.

We later buried his ashes in that same spot in the yard.

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Fast forward days, weeks, months and life goes on. I struggled for a long time over the decision to leave him at the vet’s office over that last weekend. I felt so guilty that his last day’s on Earth were spent in a cage at the doctor’s, all alone. I know there were risks with bringing him home and we made the best decision we could but I really felt like we let him down on that one. I’ve mostly let that go but every once in a while still feel a pang of guilt over it.

We got used to a new life without him and began to talk about getting another dog. I was ready but CJ was not. He and Samson were best buddies and it was especially hard on him being home all day, in the empty dog-less house. I didn’t want to push him to do anything too soon so we just waited for the Universe to present us the right dog at the right time.

Then came a fateful dental appointment in the Fall of 2016.

[...to be continued!]

30 Day Challenge

I can be a creature of habit. I find something that works and I stick with it. Last week I talked about my “spot” in the gym locker room where I get ready and how much it annoys me when someone messes with it.

I also have a spot in the garage.

See, I’ve parked in this spot nearly everyday for 5 years. Its the perfect spot for me.

It’s in the parking garage so it’s protected. Its close to the entrance that leads to the gym. It’s on the end of the row so I can park far over and still have room to load my bags in the passenger side. I always pull through so it’s easier when I leave at night.

Yet there are days when I pull in to the garage, turn the corner and see another car there. It upsets me. It angers me.

Don’t move my cheese!!

One day a guy pulled in to that spot right in front of me! I was so angry I glared as I was turning my car in to the spot behind him and I hit the pillar.

Guess I showed him.

The other day I was watching a video by Jenny Evans, a motivational speaker and author. In it she talked about breaking out of habits and routines in order to get creative juices flowing. At the end, she offered up a challenge: for the next 30 days, find as many opportunities as possible to try something new or do something different. It could be taking a different route to work or eating at a new restaurant or even traveling some place you’re never been. Heck it could be as simple as using a bathroom on a different floor. No matter how big or small, any change in habit or routine can lead to growth. So I’m trying it for the month of June.

Today, on June 1st, I treated myself to a pedicure. Something I haven’t done in years. I took a different way home too.

And biggest of all? I parked in a different place this morning.

That’s right. I parked one stall over from the usual. It may seem small and insignificant to some but it was big for me. Especially because I was doing it on my own and not because I was forced to.

I’m excited to see what other changes come and how the overall challenge will impact me. I plan to keep a journal so I can record my experiences and note feelings that coincide. I’ll share the results here!

What can you do to break out of old habits?

Night Crawler

There are many unspoken rules in life. Don’t interrupt people when they’re talking. Don’t ask a women if she’s pregnant when you’re not sure. Always answer the question, “Does this make me look fat?” by saying no.

There are also certain rules of etiquette that people just know. Especially when it comes to the gym.

Pick up after yourself.

Wipe down the equipment.

Use ear buds when listening to music.

Don’t count your reps out loud.

Don’t be a loud breather.

Did I mention pick up after yourself?

To me that’s the easiest and most basic of them all. When you get something out, put it away. Weights. Mats. Your ego. Whatever.

The gym I go to is at work. It’s an awesome perk we have and I feel very lucky that I have a convenient and cheap place to get a workout in. It’s also nice that they teach fitness classes in our gym, have personal trainers available, and have all the latest equipment. I’m spoiled and really have nothing to complain about.

Well, maybe one thing.

I arrive at the gym every morning around 5:30 am. Lately there has been a lot of stuff lying around or left behind. Monday I came in and found this waiting for me in the locker room.

Someone’s wet and gross dirty towel lying on the table. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve found something left behind on my, er, this table.

[Sidenote: I’ve been working out and showering here nearly every morning for the last 5 years. I always use this table. Everyone knows that’s my spot and they all stay clear of it in the mornings. Kind of a sign of respect. I’m a creature of habit that way. When I establish something that works for me, I want to keep it. If someone else sets up camp there it just throws me all off but more on that in a later post.]

Anyway, I head out to the gym and in to the fitness room to find this:

3 pieces of equipment left out on the floor of the room. Perhaps this person was so wiped out after their workout that they simply had no energy left to put away the box and Bosu ball. Or maybe they tried to jump on that tall box and fell, hurting themselves so bad that they just couldn’t clean up.

Let’s fast forward through the week. Here is what I found in the locker room on Tuesday.

Towel is still there and now with the addition of a pair of socks. There are 2 problems here.

1. There are smelly used socks on my, er, the table. Next to the spot where I will be getting dressed and ready.

2. The fact that the towel is still there means that the cleaning lady left it behind. Which then leads me to wonder what else she didn’t clean in there. Its not like this is someone’s personal towel from home and she didn’t want to disturb it. Its clearly a gym towel because it’s white and cheap.

Sticking with the locker room, here’s Wednesday.

Dirty towel on the table? Yup.

Smelly socks? Check.

Oh whats this? A new addition! A second towel and on the floor!!

Thursday:

A water bottle! Also, items are now starting to migrate to my, er, this side of the table. Not a good trend.

The towel has now moved to the bench. Was this the sloppy persons doing or the cleaning lady. And again I wonder, if the cleaning lady can move it here, why can’t she move it to the hamper?

Oh, and what’s this? A half empty (or is it half full?) glass of water on the counter.

And finally, Friday.

Everything’s back on my, uh, the table and still on my side. This is getting ridiculous.

The gym was no better. Here’s what I walked in to each day of the week. I found it like this…

And this.

Oh, and this.

Here’s another one.

After weeks of this nonsense we have given the person who leaves stuff out in the gym a nickname – The Night Crawler. Why? Because obviously this person works out at night. And only a wormy sort of person wouldn’t pick up after themselves.

Let’s take a minute to psychoanalyze this person. First of all I think Night Crawler and Sloppy Locker Room Lady (SLRL) are the same person. Looking at the size of the weights left out (15 lb. steel bell, 15 lb. dumbbells, a light barbell) Night Crawler is likely a woman (or a really weak dude….but I’m going with a chick). My guess is a single woman who has the time and availability to exercise at night. Probably a millennial who either still lives at home with her parents or has a really messy apartment. Also likely is that Night Crawler has never belonged to another gym because I doubt other gyms that are staffed 24×7 would put up with this nonsense.

Is it stereotyping too much to predict Night Crawler is named Ella or Madison or something like that?

So now what? I could write an aggressive note on the mirror (“Pick up your stuff!”). Put a nice sign up (“Please be considerate of others and put away all equipment.”). I could come up with a fun poem (“Roses are red, violets are blue. If you can get it out, you can put it away too!”). I actually thought about reaching out to security and asking them to check the security camera recordings.

Or I could just deal. I don’t deal well when it comes to others being rude and disrespectful. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. But it’s also not worth losing my serenity over.

So, I’ll continue to ignore and get ready around the crap left in the locker room, and put away the equipment left out in the gym. And I’ll hope that Ella or Madison learns the unspoken rules of life and the gym.

Because if I should run in to her someday and ask if this outfit makes me look fat, she better say no.