A Belated Birthday Celebration Involving Second-Hand Clothes, a Stoned Clerk Named Ryan, and Several Doggies

Celebrating your birthday after the fact can be glorious for the simple fact that it usually involves mother’s guilt. And mother’s guilt is a powerful force to behold.

So it was that after my week-long convalescence – a week where no celebration, nay, no smiles, were deemed possible – Daughter was treated to a Belated Birthday Celebration which included a trip to our favorite consignment shop, stopping at our favorite coffee/sandwich shop where our clerk may or may not have been stoned, eating lunch with five pooches, one of whom wore a tutu, and arriving back home at that perfect moment when you know — when there is no doubt — that magic is real.

The day was a beautiful one. Before we left, Daughter held up two CDs for review. She always lets me choose our travel music. I’ve yet to come across a CD of hers I don’t like, as her music leans toward alternative and quirky, and that suits me. I point at one: “Tallahassee” by The Mountain Goats.

“Good choice,” she says. Three songs later, we’re at the consignment shop, A Second Look.

I love this place. Just about everything you can think of is at this store: clothing, jewelry, housewares, home furnishings, electronics… I once bought a pink-checkered chicken at this place. I didn’t know I needed a pink-checkered chicken until I found it there. That’s how great this store is.

Pink checkered chicken

Another great thing: the longer items are there, the deeper their discount. Big signs throughout the store give you the day’s sale:

Items Dated before 1/28: 25% off
Items Dated before 1/4: 50% off
Items Dated before 12/21: 75% off

Sometimes you get lucky and find several “must-haves” at a deep discount. Other times you find squat. But it’s the thrill of the hunt, that what matters. That’s why you go.

For this trip, Daughter only found one item she could not live without, but oh what a find: a metallic snakeskin print scarf!

As for me, I found two cropped pants that fit me perfectly, even though they were mislabeled as “6” when I’m clearly still a “4” (*yesIamsoshutup*). I also found two lovely comfy shirts, perfect for lounging around the house in the evening sans bra. You can never have too many of those.

Our purchases competed, it was time for lunch. Fortunately we didn’t have far to go, because our favorite lunch spot is right in front of A Second Look. It’s called 32nd Shea, because it’s on the corner of 32nd Street & Shea. Clever, right?

And get this: it’s in a remodeled Fotomat. Remember those old drive-thru spots where they’d develop your pictures? That’s where this place is.

32nd Shea

You place your order at the register, a huge chalkboard above displays the menu. Ryan takes our order. He’s leaning on the counter at an angle, typing everything we say onto the screen. With each item he says, “You got it.”

“We’re gonna split the Veggie-Tarian sandwich.”
“You got it.”
Daughter adds, “I’ll have a tall iced coffee with rosemary syrup honey.”
“You got it.”
I say, “And I’ll have a large tropical iced green tea.”
“You got it. Do you want soup or chips with the sandwich?”
“Um…” We look at each other, Daughter shrugs, I say, “Chips.”
“You got it. Do you wanna eat outside or in?”
“You got it. Remind me of your name again?”
“Christi. You got it.”

We find a table on the patio and take our seats. Daughter comments on Ryan. “I love him,” she says. “He was so tired he could barely stand up straight.”

“I thought he was stoned,” I say.

“Even better,” she decides. “And I love how he says, ‘remind me of your name.’ I bet he says that to every customer. Remind me of your name? We’ve never met, good sir!”

She decides to write a short skit for her play-writing class featuring Ryan, the stoned sandwich shop clerk. As she makes notes on her phone, I survey the other customers on the patio. It’s a full house, people and pooches alike.

Forgot to mention: 32nd Shea is dog-friendly.

We dined with no less than five pooches: a German Shepherd behind me, a Golden Retriever to my left, a Mixed Breed with a worried expression, a Shih Tzu in a Tutu, and on my right was one of those dogs with the long ass name. The King Charles Cavalier Bowling on the Green Spaniel (or something like that).

Behind Daughter, the group with Worried Mutt was involved in some sort of project. They took up two tables: a tall long table where they sat, as well as a short round one where they piled all their magazines. For they had heaps and heaps of magazines.

Patio at 32nd Shea

There were about four or five women at the long table. Really I’m not sure how many because people were wandering to and fro with abandon. In amongst their cups of coffee and lunch orders were glue sticks, poster board, construction paper, and other arts and crafts paraphernalia. I’ve no idea what they were doing, but it seemed to be causing great stress for their Worried Mutt.

Do you suppose they were doing it wrong? Or maybe they were going about it too slowly, and Worried Mutt feared they’d be late for their afternoon crochet lesson? Honestly, it was so hard to tell, and sadly, I did not get a chance to interview the dog and find out.

And while it could have been my imagination, the Golden Retriever seemed concerned on Worried Mutt’s behalf too. Though that’s just the way of Goldens. They are a caring breed, taking the whole world on their shoulders, trying so hard to alleviate our burden. I happen to know our current political divisions trouble Goldens excessively. They are doing all they can to help, wagging their tails so energetically, but look deep into their caring eyes and you’ll see. They are troubled.

One breed you will never find troubled, not one iota troubled, is the King Charles of Upper Bucklebury and Bob’s Your Uncle Spaniel. I swear, the pooch who was dining on my right could barely make the effort to raise his head, much less worry over our sad political state. And why should he? His companion, a woman who exuded wealth from every pore, kept him on her lap the entire time and only stopped patting him long enough to offer him a morsel from her BLT. I’m telling ya, that dog’s got it good.

Meanwhile, the Shih Tzu in the Tutu made its way through the lunch crowd, visiting table after table, acting with great certainty that all would be charmed by their presence. For indeed, we were.

Its person, an older woman wearing a fanny pack (Daughter says all owners of Shih Tzus are old; it’s like a law) referred to the dog in the third person: “Do we want to say hello to the people? Let’s say hello!”

So they did. They said hello.

Dog wearing tutu

I said hello back. It was the polite thing to do.

The only one who seemed displeased by the Shih Tzu in the Tutu was the German Shepherd. It was… how shall I put it?… it was as though he considered it a personal affront that there should even be a Shih Tzu in a Tutu. He maintained his dignity, of course. Was careful not to show the slightest amount of agitation. But even so. You could tell.

Our sandwich was wonderful, by the way, as were the drinks. We lingered as long as we could. Honestly, I was hoping an unveiling of the arts and crafts project was imminent, but alas, it was not to be. On our way home we made two stops, one to pick up the necessary ingredients for strawberry shortcake, and the other to pick up dry cleaning (hey, it was just one block over, okay?).

And now we come to the most special event of the day — in point of fact, it is the entire purpose of my writing — when we pulled into the driveway and I shut off the car.

You know how it is when the song you’re listening to ends at the exact moment your ride is over? You put the car in park and… duuummmm… the song ends? It feels like you’ve attained perfection. As though everything came into place and magic is in the air. Well, that’s the way it was for us, only it was the last note of the last song on the whole CD!

Total MAGIC!

It exists people, it really exists! All you have to do is look around and view the world with fresh eyes.

And maybe look into the eyes of a Golden Retriever while you’re at it. Lord knows it can’t hurt.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 3.25.34 PM.pngNote: No Goldens were troubled in the making of this blog post.

Timeline of a Near Fatal Illness, AKA Bronchitis, *CoughCough*

Note: Every other blogger might be blogging about Love and Valentine’s Day and chocolates and warm and fuzzy and smootchy stuff like that there. I’m not, cause I’m sick. Your pity is appreciated.

Day One – Friday

Unlike most weekends, I actually have plans for this one. Saturday morning is the VNSA book sale. All year this charitable organization receives donations of used books, cds, movies – scads of stuff – enough to fill to abundance the exhibit building at the Arizona Fairgrounds. It’s every bit as much fun as you can imagine.


Also happening, Husband returns home from a five-day visit with his family.

Friday afternoon, approximately 12:27 pm, Mountain Standard Time, I cough.

It is the first of many coughs.

Day Two – Saturday

My sleep was fitful, full of strange dreams involving angry people, lost pets, and Gene Wilder on the beach with a metal detector. In the morning I take my temperature: 100.4.

I stare at it. The thermometer is an old one. Have we ever changed the batteries? Damn thing is broken.

I think all this while coughing.

This is a terrible time to be sick. Which begs the question, is there a good time to be sick?

“Oh, I see I’ve nothing planned for the second week of June. Say Universe, how ‘bout we reschedule for then, yeah?”

I do not go to the book sale. I go back to bed, wake up at 4:30 pm, Husband is home.

“You don’t look good,” he says.

“Nice to see you, too,” I say.

Day Three – Sunday

Morning temp: 101.2.

Husband says we have a transportation issue, so it works out well I’m sick and won’t need the car.

So glad this is working out for everyone.

Why is there illness in the world? Why is there suffering? I should write about this. A deep, profound piece. People will be enthralled. I’ll bring comfort to millions

Reminds me of a Bible class we had a few years back, the woman leading it looked like she walked off the pages of a Coldwater Creek catalog. There was a visitor to our church, a Southern Baptist from Georgia. She was an old college friend of one of our members.

We were studying the book of Job, and I said how I had a class on it (it was a month-long course at a Lutheran school). The professor said if you take the first part of Job and the last part and put them together, you’ll notice they’re the same style and sound like a parable. Most scholars believe that’s what it was, a story people told about being faithful in bad times and God rewarding them because of it. But something about it must have bothered the writer of Job, so he split it into two parts and added his poetry in the middle, with Job’s friends voicing the conventional “wisdom” and Job questioning it, pointing out flaws in their arguments. And isn’t it great, I added, that we have something like this in the Bible? It’s like saying, hey, it’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to get angry and question things. God can take it.

The woman from Georgia… well, you would have thought I had horns sprouting from my head. “What the Bible says is exactly what it means and if it says there was a man named Job, then that’s good enough for me! Everything happened just as it says! I don’t know what you teach around here, but at MY church, we speak the truth!”

After the class was over, I heard her ask her friend, “Who is that woman?”

“Oh her? She’s our minister’s wife.”

Am I rambling? I feel like I’m rambling.

Day Four – Monday

Morning temp: 101.5

The earliest the doctor can see me is 1:15. I soldier on, brave in the face of this treacherous, vile malady. Patiently awaiting my time, hoping hospitalization does not prove necessary.

He’s new to the practice: a Dr. Berkowitz, a lean man with salt-and-pepper hair.

Isn’t that always the case? When you look your worst, you get the best looking doctor?

He gives my scourge a name: Bronchitis.

How terribly common. I was hoping for something with a little more heft. Scarlet fever, perhaps. Malaria. Bubonic plague.

On the office wall is a drawing of the respiratory system. A picture of healthy bronchial tubes and ones like mine.

Bronchial tubes

How lovely.

He writes a prescription for antibiotics, Husband drives me to Costco. I must look worse than I thought. As the woman at the pharmacy counter writes down my information, she looks at me and says, “I’ll put urgent on this.”

Dear me.

Day Five – Tuesday

Morning temp: 99.6

Daughter’s birthday. You know your kids are getting older when one of the items they request is bedsheets. We also gave her good quality markers for her drawings, and a small voice recorder for when she’s working over something she’s writing while pacing outside (a common occurrence at our house). She loves the recorder and plans on calling it Diane. (Daughter is a Twin Peaks fan.)

We have no cake for her, no plans on going out, no special meal. What sort of mother gets sick on her daughter’s birthday? A terrible one.

Due to incessant coughing, my stomach now feels like I’ve done several hundred sit-ups. Wouldn’t be so bad if I actually got a flat tummy out of it. Not likely, as the only thing that sounds good right now is pancakes. As I eat my so-so pancakes, I listen to the latest podcast from This American Life.

Bad move. It’s on Real-life Rom-Coms. I’m not what you’d call an overly sentimental gal, but… well, give me a fever and tell me a story of a guy screaming into his cell-phone, “ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU” and running like a madman down Ludlow Street in New York?… soon I’m a blubbering idiot, sobbing away, teardrops falling into the maple syrup.

Day Six – Wednesday

Morning temp: 99.0

Valentine’s Day.

Aw, crap. Not only am I sick on Valentine’s Day (albeit improving), I wrote a post about being sick on Valentine’s Day. Probably looking like crap while I did it.

What kind of blogger posts about her illness on Valentine’s Day?

A sick one.


Tell ya what, do you want something lovey dovey sweet to listen to? Try this American Life podcast.

Only don’t do it while eating pancakes.