Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lunch Encounter

The beauty of a city like Charlotte is that it has so much to offer. Shopping, restaurants, bars, breweries... you name it, the Queen City has it. New houses go up every day, the job market is promising. Plus there's plenty of green space: parks, trails, walkways, greenways. You don't really have an excuse to be a couch potato around here. Especially with events that mix the beer with the brawn.

Yet, the small town girl in me recognizes a good thing when she sees it, even if it's not an urban advantage. Case in point, I tried a new place for lunch today after reading with my CMS student. I crossed the lake over into SC with the intention of getting a smoothie. I ended up instead with a sandwich, chips and a drink... as well as a pickle and a little dab of coleslaw... which I learned come complimentary with the sammie.

When I walked in, I was instantly greeted by a woman behind the counter with a sweet smile and chomping at the bit to tell me the different breads for my sandwich and an array of drink options. Then I sat at a high top table awaiting my food. The place was not fancy, in fact, the floor looked like it could use some work. But that didn't stop a steady stream of folks from filing in, taking the time to exchange pleasantries before grabbing a bite to eat.

This simple, everyday experience made me stop and think: I wonder if there are people in CLT who've never ventured out into these smaller communities. Especially those who are from big cities. Oh sure, they go to secluded mountain towns and trendy downtown areas on the outskirts. No, what I'm talking about are these plain old places where people have lived and worked their entire lives. There are no attractions, no hot spots, no claims to fame. Just pure hospitality.

There's something to be said for the way a lunch lady's smile brightens the day. The way religious music playing off an iPod fills the room with a sense of calm. The way a dab of coleslaw tastes so damn good you wish you could've ordered a tub.

Then, you see a woman, walking away with the smoothie you should have ordered, whipped cream and all. And it's official: you're definitely coming back. For the treat, and all the feels.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


This has been one warm weekend. In fact, our air conditioner is on right now, in February! That being said, it's been a great two days to get the dogs out.

On Saturday, we went to the Riverwalk in Rock Hill along the Catawba. Problem is, everyone else did, too. So with the extra people, and Smoky's unpolished public manners, it wasn't that fun. Plus, it's a bit of a drive.

Today, we went with the sure thing: Copperhead Island. It's five minutes away with a paved loop and plenty of lake views. There we are, on the first leg of the trail, about to come off the fishing deck, when I notice Smoky has picked up something. I see fishing line coming out of his mouth and bend down to get it before he swallows, silly dog. But, oh no, it's not just fishing line. There's a hook at the end of that fishing line. And that hook is stuck through Smoky's tongue.

I'm calm at first, but as I examine further, it's not just one hook, it's got three prongs with a piece of something stuck on one of them. The reason, I'm guessing, he grabbed it in the first place. Smoky is now trying to get out the hook himself, gagging and licking and wondering why this great treat is hurting him. Then as I try to remove it, he squirms and jumps around even more, becoming most uncooperative. 

Pmo has gone ahead down the trail with the other two dogs so he doesn't have a clue what's going on behind him. Mind you, at this point, I'm still thinking I can handle the situation, so I didn't yell for him. Luckily, a couple we passed earlier on the path has made it to where I am, and they stop to help. 

The man holds Smoky's mouth open to let me get a better look at how to remove the hook. But in all the commotion, I can't tell which way to pull it, and I'm afraid I'm making it worse. I'm still holding myself together, so close to the brink of panic, when the man says, "He can't breathe." 

Now, in hindsight, I don't think this was true. However, it puts the fear of God in me and I start sobbing. Yet, I continue working on the hook. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, I get it out. Smoky returns to normal, even wagging his tail. Knowing him, he probably would have picked it up again if I had let him. And I just keep on crying. 

By this time, Pmo has come back to see what's holding me up. We both thank the man, me through the tears that just won't stop even though it's all over now, and start down the trail once more. I can't wipe my tears because my hands smell so bad I can't bring myself to put them on my face. My nose is also running, and I'm generally out of breath and just a wreck. By the time we reach the other side of the island, though, I calm down a bit and manage to use the underside of my t-shirt to wipe the mascara off my cheeks. We finish the walk, and we go home.

So that's why I started drinking beer at 2:00 this afternoon. Our youngest scared me to death, and even though I was probably doing my best to help him, it sure as hell felt like I wasn't. But Smoky seems just fine, besides the fact he now has a pierced tongue. The smell on my hands, despite washing them several times, still lingers.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Turn for the Worse

I was called into work last night on three hours sleep. The late emergency notice set me back an hour and a half from when I should have started producing an hour newscast. And it was not only the day after the Super Bowl, it was also just a few days into the ratings period. But I managed.

I was wearing a hoodie and a headband at the office because I showered quickly and got the hell out the door. Toward the end of my shift, I dropped said headband on the floor, then proceeded to accidentally step on it. So I threw it away.

I was coming down the stairs this morning after I got home and changed clothes, and my fuzzy socks hit just right on the edge of a step. I came down the rest of the way on my bum. And my hands, my arms, my elbows, my love handles... you get the picture, bruises to come, I'm sure. I sat on the landing, stunned by the pain and how quickly it all, literally, went down, then realized nothing was broken. And I got up.

That's a fine set of how-do-you-dos for a Monday if I ever heard of one.

The point is, I couldn't control any of those things. Well, the fuzzy socks may now be banned from the stairwell. And I could be more careful with my hair accessories. But in each case, the only thing I could do was react and move on. Or dwell in my bad luck that seemed to be piling upon me.

I read somewhere once that it's okay to feel the emotion in the moment when things like this happen, whatever it is: anger, frustration, sadness, etc. Recognize it, deal, then let it go. It's dwelling on the bad stuff that gets you down. And keeps you down. Plus, it's such a waste of energy. You could be doing many more worthwhile things, like sleeping. Which I'm about to do.

That's right. Just as I was writing this, my boss called to tell me I have to go in early again tonight. I have his ringtone set as a nuclear alarm, so I'm already setting myself up for an exasperated sigh and lamenting. But I had my moment of angst, thought about it a bit and now I'm heading to bed.

Why? Because there's nothing I can do about this turn of events. And I know now I can handle it as well as the next curve ball life throws at me. I couldn't have said that six months to a year ago. Here's to hoping you can also find some solace in a series of unfortunate events. It could always be worse.