Sonya’s Elegy

One of my co-workers at my full-time job unexpectedly died last week. I didn’t know Sonya well – 46, major heart attack – but I remember her lively presence on the train and when I first started my job, she was the AA for the IT department. For the three months that my cube was on the second floor, she lit the office. When my department moved up to the third floor, I only saw her on the train when I was going to Philadelphia. Ms. Ernestine wanted me to write a poem that she could give to Sonya’s mother. Here is my go at it.

 

Sonya’s Elegy

Red and yellow leaves cover the train tracks,
howling wind groans and howls, a sudden cold silence.
A week ago, the green leaves burst in laughter,
music and dance filled the train;
laughter about the upcoming weekend-
DJing, endless scratching of records
from sun down, the moon lighting the sky,
her amber eyes reflect the stars,
her voice, a seranade of summer.

One night, sound held in the city’s landscape
drowned in August, partygoers hum,
car horn’s in a cacophony, yelling a symphony,
she has her friend by her side,
wild laughter as they wait for the train,
while all of Philadelphia slept.
Those crazy kids in the twilight,
the train lights the way.

I never thought there would be a day
where her laughter ceased,
her friends an empty shadow
as they wait for the train;
summer subsides into autumn,
green turns to gold, gold to bare,
I see you singing,
wandering, adventuring,
taking hold of the shooting star,
I can see you forever in the cityscape.
Red and yellow leaves cover the train tracks,
you are the wind wrapping me in warmth.

Thankful Saturday 7 September 2019

I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy this weekend and today I had work at the library. I finished an hour early so I could go food shopping before I had to get back to puppy at 2:30. As I was waiting for the community bus, Aunt Marie saw me sitting in wait. She called out to me and asked if I needed a ride.

Aunt Marie is my great aunt, she took me to Wegmans and we went grocery shopping together. We bonded while shopping and I also ran into an old college mate. I haven’t seen Steve in seven years, he recognized me right away and we caught up for a bit. That was nice too. After, Aunt Marie dropped me off at home and said, “it was a pleasure shopping with you! If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s fun roaming around with you!” I’m verklempt and thankful.

Aunt Kathy didn’t go GF grocery shopping for me, but that’s okay. At 6, I snuck out to the mall and had a delicious pho dinner. I always eat half, so I wrapped the rest. I decided to visit Jack at his job, we caught up, he brewed me some tea, and gave me a discount on an ounce of delicious tea because he knows my situation. After I paid and had to get back to puppy, he came out and gave me a big hug. It was a nice evening, even for an hour out. It was inexpensive – $10 for the pho, $4 for the tea, and my spirits are lifted. I am also thankful for Jack.

Thankful Thursday 5 September 2019

Happy September! After some hot and humid days, the temperatures have dropped and autumn is in the air! Woohoo! I’m also feeling better, now it’s just my dreaded allergies. Tis the season!

I’m thankful that mom is giving me her old laptop. Last weekend she bought a new one and said I’m free to wipe it, then install Windows 10 (she has Windows 7). This weekend while I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy, I’ll be a techie. I’m looking forward to having a “new” functioning computer. Mom’s excited about her new computer too.

I’m thankful I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy this weekend and I’m thankful that I’ll be catsitting for Terry on 19 October and over Christmas/Hanukkah. They know my predicament and they want to help out a little by offering me small jobs. I don’t want to be given money, I want to work for it, and they both have needs too. They both trust me and I take good care of their furbabies. I’m verklempt about these opportunities.

I’m thankful for my two jobs, friends, and family. I’m thankful for therapy and my counselor. This is the season where I get triggered; 7 November will mark six years and 2019 has the same days as 2013. 7 November was a Thursday in 2013 and it’s a Thursday this year. I started triggering a bit earlier this year and in the three sessions I have left, we’ll be working through these triggers. I’m thankful that there is help out there.

What are you thankful for?

A Special Happiness Box Initiative Newsletter: A Hot, Sultry, & Special Summer 2019

I’m rethinking how I write the Happiness Box Initiative’s newsletter. At the end of the season, I often write recaps and what I hope to achieve in the upcoming season. Not every season is as special as this summer was, but maybe going forward, I’ll write specials from time to time.

One goal I had this year was trying something new each day. I had a theory that by getting out of my comfort zone and defying some fears, not only could I learn about myself but I could build some joy. As Wraith healed this summer and boy did I make sure he kept protected from the sun, I had a great summer filled with new experiences, adventure, and catching up with Anna.

Be loud and be proud! June ushered in Pride Month and I took time to celebrate the LBGTQIA community. I reached out about something that has been plaguing me since 2013 and with the help of the community, I am addressing the deep seeded feelings. I tested healthy in June and at the end of July, I reached out to counselling services. I’ve been in counseling since the end of July.

The Happiness Box Project has helped and apparently, despite everything that has happened to me, I am a strong woman and I am coping well. I am halfway through the sessions and I’m sad that in three weeks, they will be done and I will have to find a new therapist. I am learning about myself through these sessions and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m 30 and a decade wiser than I was in my 20s, but I’m noticing changes in how I am conducting myself now.

Mom discovered the debt I am in and while she is helping me with my budgeting, I know this isn’t what the change is. I have discovered that we are who we are. I believe our 20s are a time of discovering ourselves and in our 30s, we begin to sort through what worked or didn’t work for us, and we begin to see that our core never really changes from when were young. I believe we mature, but the messages from our souls remain the same.

While I would like to live in New York City or Baltimore for a year before Canada,I never really had the desire to leave my parents or Nan. I wanted to be here for them and I want to stay in King of Prussia until I get on my feet; I also want to help mom financially after dad retires. Deep down I think that’s why I never really went far away to college, I was here through Nan’s sickness and death. I helped and I’m glad I was here. I want to be present for my parents in their old age, I want to care for them. I guess deep down, I’ve always done what the little voice in my soul has told me. Although I changed religions, family is still important to me; wherever I move to, I know when my parents become elderly and ill, I will either move back or I’ll move them in with me. I don’t want them to live in a nursing home, unless they require care I can’t give and it would be too much for a home health agency to handle.

I guess my obsessions with crafting and money are who I am too. I remember having these obsessions as a child and they grew in my 20s; although I am in debt, I watch my money like crazy, but I am also sentimental and want to document everything in my life. I also never liked driving or riding a bike, I discovered that when I was 8 when Daniel placed me in the driver’s seat, I froze on the road and panicked. It was early morning and no one was out driving, but the idea of being behind the wheel scared me. Riding a bike scared me too, I was always afraid of accidents and dying, I guess I associated driving with that too. Besides roller skates, I can’t be on wheels, even go-carts. I learned how to drive in my early 20s, but failed the test nine times and decided I am not a driver. I would not continue with the tests and I will just have to live near transit; I’ve always loved riding buses and trains, that was no big deal to me.

Be you. Listen to your soul and do what is best for you. There are still days I struggle with these concepts, but through therapy and learning to listen to myself more in the third decade of my life, I will continue to be wonderful, fabulous me. I will listen and value the beautiful lessons this life has to offer.

30 June 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City. This summer I spent two nights in New York City, my first time ever doing so. I usually take day trips to New York City, but I wanted to stay a few days in Brighton Beach. I decided to visit the Stonewall Inn while on vacation.

On 16 July 2019, I visited the Stonewall Inn, where I met Sammy. I was enjoying a Shirley Temple and he asked if he could sit next to me. I never turn people away, as it’s an opportunity to meet someone new, and we began chatting. I told him I was visiting from King of Prussia, he told me he was looking at a job opportunity there and asked me how I liked King of Prussia. I said, “it’s not my favourite place, but if you have an opportunity, take it!”

Sammy treated me to Polish the Queen, which was my first time watching a drag show. I loved Fifi Dubois and their performances of showtunes. The way they performed “All That Jazz” from Chicago, I can’t stop listening! I want to rent Chicago for the autumn and make a day out of it. Toxic Shock was also interesting and after the show, I randomly met them at CVS. We were both waiting in line and they were from Pennsylvania too! They were from New Hope.

I finally uploaded the videos to YouTube and I want to share them with you:

 

Brighton Beach was an interesting experience and I loved beach. The water was so clear that I could see fish swimming and crabs scurrying in the sand. Water was also cold – it felt like I was taking a polar plunge in July! Brighton Beach also didn’t have rough waves and was perfect for swimming.

On the first day at the beach, I met the family sitting next to me. The father saw me struggling with my sunscreen, asked if I needed help, and had one of his sons apply it to my back and Wraith, especially Wraith. Later, they invited me over to their spot for lunch and dominoes. Juan Carlos, the father, brought me back lamb and the other guys had gyros. I was also given a bottle of water – these guys were very kind.

I felt like I was in Russia while visiting Brighton Beach – all the shops were in Russian – only knowing “yes”, “no”, “please”, and  “thank you”, I was at a disadvantage – however, to my advantage, I learned a little Russian and customs while on my trip and I tried borscht for the first time! It was delicious and I might have to try warm borscht this autumn.

Before I left Brighton Beach on Wednesday morning, a man was sitting at the kitchen table at Alex’s Air BNB – I knew Alex had other guests, but I was a bit standoffish. When Oliver spoke to me in English, we chatted for 45 minutes. A NGO worker from Belgium, he was on holiday with his daughters. We connected on Instagram and we still keep in touch. That is one reason why I love staying at Air BNBs and staying at Alex’s apartment gave me an opportunity to meet new people (and he had a black cat, Simba, which gave me a taste of home).

I spent the last three days of my vacation in Asbury Park, my favourite beach in New Jersey. I loved the Air BNB I stayed in near Bradley Beach; John and Jim were awesome hosts and I felt at home. They were hospitable and made sure I was safe, had water, and were fun to chat with. They love Broadway and I enjoyed chatting New York shows with Jim. Asbury Park was fun in general, and met a few bands while visiting.

I turned 30 on July 4th and celebrated with family and my friend, James. Marsha had to work that day, but we met up a month later for a belated celebration. Maddie and Max were in attendance and it was nice to see them before they moved to the Pacific Northwest for Max’s job. My birthday was quiet; I had a fun birthday weekend ahead with Anna, her cousin, and friends from Tower City.

Ah, birthday weekend. Anna visited from South Carolina and this was my first time seeing her since 2009. I met up with Anna and her cousin, Luke, on the fifth and had drinks (non-alcoholic Shirley Temple for me!) at Woody’s. Amber, one of Anna’s and Luke’s friends from Tower City, met up with us later and we had a delicious dinner at Banh Mi and Bottles—I absolutely love phǫ. The next day, Anna, Luke, Amber, Ally, and I enjoyed the day at Dorney Park sailing the pool waves, sliding down water slides, hanging upside down on rollercoasters (I passed and watched belongings) and carouselfies. The day was filled with laughter too. It was so nice seeing Anna again and meeting Luke, Amber, and Ally—I can’t wait to see them again! It was a fun weekend and a precursor to a trip planned for ten days after my birthday: New York City and Asbury Park.

While I was away, I met up with Doug at Bare Burger in Brooklyn and had a chance to see him before he moved to London. I’m glad we had time in our schedules to meet up with one another, that made the whole trip.

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While I didn’t go roller skating that much this summer, apparently it was the year for theme parks. I went to Luna Park in Coney Island for the first time and I loved the experience. I loved how I could pay for the rides I wanted to ride and that the rides were old fashioned, so they were enjoyable. I went to Knoebels with the Browns in August and Knoebels was another old amusement park in Elysburg, PA. I spent most of the day at the water park, but I did enjoy the train and haunted house. These were unforgettable experiences filled with laughter; it’s okay that I didn’t skate that much this summer.

Sammy also moved to King of Prussia and I ran into him one afternoon on the bus. I hope to spend more time with him this autumn and see if a friendship blossoms. Also, since I am saving money, I had Marsha over for lunch and movie in mid-August; we hope to make lunch/movie Sunday a monthly event. I plan on nurturing my close friendships not only through the autumn, but throughout my life. Friendship is important, just like family.

I can’t wait to see how the lessons I learned this summer will serve me for the remainder of 2019.

Tastes of the End of Summer: GF Strawberry Galette

Last month, Gluten Free on a Shoestring sent me a recipe for a strawberry galette. I ended up buying the tapioca starch and coarse sugar, but never got around to making it.

I decided to make the GF Strawberry Galette today, on second to last day of summer. I thought it was a perfect send off to Summer 2019. Here is the recipe: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/rustic-strawberry-tart/

However, since I used Trader Joe’s GF pie crust, it was small and I used a pound of strawberries, 1 Tablespoon of tapioca flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt. The galette turned out deliciously and mom said she wants to make whipped cream for it tomorrow.

Walking the Manayunk Trail

While I’m not 100% yet, I decided to walk the Manayunk Trail yesterday. I didn’t feel like paying for the train, it was a gorgeous day, and I missed walking since my illness. The weather was gorgeous and so was the scenery. I love the way nature looks in late August through late September, right before the leaves change. Of course, I also love when the leaves change too. I felt at peace.

Although I brought my rollerskates, I decided not to go. I coughed a lot after my walk and I knew roller skating wouldn’t be good for my lungs right now. The rink also closes on Labour Day, Monday, to get ready for ice skating. I know the rink is torn up, as is true at the close of every season, and since I’m not 100%, I didn’t want to fall. It has been a weird summer because I didn’t skate a lot… I missed July and most of August. The weather was hot and rainy, when it wasn’t rainy, it was just too hot to skate. I’m looking forward to ice skating.

Thankful Thursday 29 August 2019

Ah, the last Thursday in August and we are marching towards Autumn, one of my favourite times of year!

I’m still battling my cold – can’t smell or taste anything, but I still have an appetite. I’ve been eating, but mostly tea and soup, plus solids. I can’t wait to get back to normal!

This elderly gentleman I ride the train with asked me how I was this morning. I said I was the same and he gave me a bag of fisherman’s friend lozenges. He said they will cure what ails me and they are strong! They have helped and I’m grateful.

Yesterday was my 13th anniversary at the library and I’m such a lucky person. I won the final summer raffle again. I’m thankful for the people I’ve worked with for the past 13 years.

The top photo is from last year, bottom from yesterday.

I heard from Rachel! I can’t make the improv group during the week, but hopefully they have weekend meetups. I’m so glad i heard from her! I also saw Jack on Tuesday and he gave me his number. Can’t wait to see where both acquaintances turn into. I’m grateful for these opportunities!

I am also thankful for my parents, family and friends. What are you thankful for?