Yesterday was rough. I was a few minutes early so I had time before work to think. My stomach hadn't been feeling the greatest before I got there so I wondered what the day would be like. Long and boring was my eventual answer. I ended up asking if I could leave before the store closed and was granted permission. My youngest sister called while I was on break, after I sold the living room furniture I had I bought some patio furniture and asked if she would be interested in the chairs that went with the set. She was calling to see if I wanted them back or what she should do with them if I didn't. My sisters and I are such different people it's sometimes hard to believe that we have the same parents or grew up in the same house.

My youngest sister is the girly girl in my family. She does not like sports, she hates to cook, she is extremely dutiful, and there are many times when I'm envious of her ability to make herself do the right thing simply because that's what is expected of her. She's very quiet, she's humble, she works very hard at her job, and people pile more and more work on her since she's so capable. She gets frustrated at work, but she's not the type to lash out or get angry so she goes along as best she can. She works for the county where I live, she's been in so many departments I'm not sure where she's at now, but she's always involved in some form of determining who is eligible for economic support from the government. 

Somehow the conversation turned to the bunk beds I had recently acquired. My sister is one of the few people who can tell me the things she does while making me understand that the attack is personal, but she really doesn't want me to feel bad while being critical of my lifestyle or decisions. I thought the bunk beds would be an answer to some of our storage needs. It's a very nice set, but we're not using them so I want to get rid of them along with the chairs she has. Yesterday she said she would come over if she had a place to sit, this is untrue and I countered with the fact that I had plenty of places to sit which is actually a verifiable fact.

My sister said she didn't want to sit on the floor, I said that people in Japan sat on the floor all the time. I told her she could have the bunk beds if she was so enamored, she asked how come we weren't using them and I said we just weren't. They were up, but I had asked my daughter to put the rest of drawers in after I did the first couple, and they're still sitting on the floor beside the window. My sister can't understand how the three of us prefer to sleep on the floor instead of beds, but this is what we do and it works for us. I had a bed that I liked, but once I found out how much better my back felt when I slept on the floor I decided to get rid of that too.

During the call my sister said I was probably systematically getting rid of everything I owned and I replied that my method was better than jamming every possession known to man in a very small apartment. My place is actually a decent size, but I like space and loathe clutter so it seems small to me because I want to look out on an expanse of room that doesn't have anything in it. This truly makes me very happy and I'm always searching for the person who will come over and help me get rid of at least half of what I own because I know that I have just begun testing the limits of what we can do without while maintaining a high quality of life.

I'm not sure why this next topic was on my mind before I went to bed last night. Saturday was busy at work. One of the guys I work with brought a customer over when he couldn't find an item he was looking for, I've known this customer and his family for a while, it took me a while to match him and his wife up with their two children, I had a funny conversation with a friend of mine about them, finally she figured out who I was talking about, I can't remember why they became a topic of conversation, they are regulars and well liked as far as I can tell. One of the most interesting things about them is listening to one of their sons talk about his music.

One of the guys I dated after I got divorced was a scout who works for a Major League Baseball team. He had a temper and would get worked up whenever he saw injustice which he often did. He had a lot of great stories, we're still friends, and I wish him all the best in the world because he reached out at a time when I was at my lowest. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my grandfather's death, the day after that is the day that my other grandfather passed away last December. I have a niece who was born on the 16th, I always remember the day that she was born because she was ten days early, and I was worried about her before she arrived.

I also remember the night before her younger sister was born because my sister turned off postseason baseball at a crucial moment before the game ended. I get that she wasn't feeling well and women in labor should be granted compassion and tolerance, but my brother-in-law and I had been watching the game, and there was no reason why she couldn't have let us finish watching since the girls were in bed and we were headed there ourselves. Maybe someday I'll figure out why we don't get along, either we are too different or too much alike, maybe it's a little of both. She wants to tell me what to do and I can't understand the things she does. Our worlds rarely collide and sometimes I feel bad I don't see my nieces more often, especially the younger two because I really love them dearly.

To get back to the customers at work, my scouting friend gave me a lot of insight into how to judge talent. He recognized it wherever he went, he would get sent ahead of the team to evaluate pitchers and hitters, he worked with players at every level of the game and one day we had a discussion about different types of people and raw talent. I know that the couple that comes in regularly has a virtuoso on their hands, and I want to encourage him, but not because he needs people to tell him to practice, his parents have to tell him to stop practicing. Several years ago I was talking to a former German professor of mine about focus and he said the kids that get too hung up on one area of their life often have emotional problems.

I thought that was a very interesting insight and I filed it away for future reference. My youngest daughter went through a gymnastics phase like that and I still consider it a parenting fail that I could never manage to get more classes for her. Like this other kid we didn't have to tell her what to do. She drove herself to compete and perform. Today she has issues with her spine, it's nothing super serious, but it does concern me, and there's not a lot I can do about it or with her because she doesn't think it's a problem, and neither does her father. She's very intense, both of my children are, and that worries me because I can see future problems associated with the ability to get lost in one thing for hours on end, and screens aren't always the healthiest time munchers in our lives.

One thing I really miss about living in a house is yard work and snow removal. I never dreamed I would be saying that, but it forced me to get outside and there's just something about being able to look out on an expanse of grass and trees while listening to insects buzzing and birds chirping. I'm going to cry when that house gets sold, mostly because I recognize the loss of that undeveloped potential. Parenting is a topic I rarely write about, but it's one of the closest to my heart. My youngest wants more traditional parents and I'm afraid she's never going to have them. She dislikes change and it's practically my middle name because I like to shake things up, and sometimes I'm too ready to pitch a system that wasn't fatally flawed and just needed some tweaking.

I find some irony in the fact that my oldest daughter and I both work at grocery stores, but food is still such a struggle and an issue for us. I know that I can make meals, but this goes way back to me being a kid and experiencing all the tension and fights that I went through when my parents were still married. Yes we were sitting down together as a family, no, it wasn't an experience that brought us closer together. I fought constantly with their father about meals. It seemed like we should be able to gather around the table at least once a day, but, I think he viewed it as a way for me to control him, and maybe there was some truth to it.

Looking back I think we were both stubborn and immature. I wanted my way, he wanted his, my children are stubborn and sensitive to power struggles and control issues. I've had to let a lot of things go, and today I'm grateful for one of my friends at work who sent me the video on letting people who no longer want to be a part of my life, go. I can't let the girls go until they are older. I don't know how to compromise and meet them in the middle. Their father and I created a toxic home environment and since I tend to be a very all or nothing person, I'm finding it very difficult years later to be the parent I want to be. There are things I do well, but for the most part I'm not very happy with where we're at despite my improved relationship with Jill.

Her dad understands intellectually that she has celiac disease. One of the few things we agreed upon when we were at Children's Hospital with her was that we weren't going to have her scoped. There are three factors necessary for an official diagnosis; improvement on a gluten free diet, positive test results, and a scope that reveals intestinal damage. Her GI doctor tried to make us feel like crappy parents when we told him we didn't think this was necessary. He insisted that it was a safe procedure, but we both knew it was a money maker and wouldn't change anything we did at home. She had family history, her pediatrician had written the orders for a gluten and dairy free diet at school, and I can't have it so wheat wasn't coming back into the house even if she was completely healthy.

One of the worst things as a parent is knowing that there is a preventable problem in your child's life. I won't get into what happens when people who can't digest gluten eat it, but there is a whole host of problems involved with it and the gluten free diet is just the very beginning of it. I work at a health food store, yet I am surrounded by food that could hurt or kill me. It gets down to microscopic particles of food and if you don't live this lifestyle, you will probably view people like me as freaks. You never know what can be on someone's hands so if your cashier is a wheat eater you could be in big trouble after they touch your fruits and vegetables. 

Shellfish is fairly easy to avoid, I won't even touch the packaging because I've gotten sick from minimal contact. I don't eat many foods at work and I'm taking a chance every time I order a juice or smoothie because crumbs are everywhere, and that's all it will take to make me very ill. I don't use the silverware, eat off of the plates, drink out of cups or mugs that other people have used, as soon as a surface is contaminated, that's it for me. It causes all sorts of problems for me, but I still hear people who dismiss the gluten free diet as a fad. For many it is, for me, it is a necessity, and a permanent way of life. There's no cure, you live in a world of varying degrees of pain, isolated from any and every social event where the people around you are enjoying things you would dearly love to be eating.

More than probably anyone else in their lives I understand that my children just want to be normal kids. They don't want to have to decline a slice of pizza, bring their own food, dishes, silverware, and beverages places, they want to grab part of a sub, eat regular spaghetti, sprinkle cheese on things, eat banana bread, and live in a house where their mom makes potatoes and buys ketchup. It's very easy to let fear and food overwhelm and take over, there are no compromises when it comes to food allergies and intolerances. No matter how much they protest, I can see the damage. Their dad refuses to run a gluten free household and my anger at him is deep and unforgiving because he is putting his comfort above their safety and I know what their lives are like much better than he does.

The only factors I can control are the ones at my place. I really can't believe I put up with his ridiculousness for so long. I fully understand how expensive and inconvenient it is to live this life. Last year about this time I had the bad rash on both elbows. I remember thinking it was eczema when it first started and recognizing it wasn't as soon as it started spreading. I still don't know how I managed, I have the scars from it on my arms, and I'm fortunate that I discovered what the rash was although I still don't know where the hidden source of gluten was because I never voluntarily ingest it. It was also right around this time that I had my first allergic reaction at my new job. Fortunately it wasn't life threatening although it very easily could have been.

One of the things that makes me so good at my job is I get the people who come in scared out of their minds and searching for an entirely new way to live their lives. You don't have a choice when you have food allergies, or you do, but death isn't usually the option most people choose. In a way I'm more fortunate than my daughter whose allergies are less severe than my own. I can't eat those foods and get away with them. I can't wash dishes that were used, sometimes I can't even be in the same room as certain foods which I've had to learn the hard way. Food is a very serious topic in my life, it's almost always on my mind at some level, but I also try hard to not let it consume me.

All of this is leading up to my gratitude for the people who get it, one of them being my manager. Because I have a potato allergy she insists that people take the scoops we use in the bulk spice area upstairs immediately to wash them. Saturday afternoon I had a good conversation with that customer who is trying to avoid certain foods because his wife can't have them. That's true love to me. He's voluntarily giving up things he could have in his life for her. He doesn't have to do this, he could have the foods when he is out, but he chooses to do this for her and his children, and that's the kind of person I want to call attention to because he's never going to insist on getting that credit himself.

The little things are the big things in my life. This is why I so appreciate anyone who is extra kind to the difficult people. Sometimes we don't want to be difficult. We would much rather be able to go through the store and grab whatever off the shelves. We don't want to have to worry incessantly about cross contamination or how many people are touching surfaces that we're going to be eating. It's a very real danger, but it doesn't seem scary to others who can pick up a fork and eat whatever. I'm grateful to people who take care when they pack my groceries and I almost never have anyone else do it for me because it is super scary to me. In a sense you're putting your life, health, and safety into their hands. If they just touched a bag of shrimp, that could get onto an apple, or pear, and kill me.

Maybe it sounds silly to get excited about a bag of exquisitely packed groceries, but when food, processes, and procedures, are so much a part of your life, you learn to recognize the things that separate the good from the great from the truly artistic, and in my world, it is an art form because a lot of people cost our store extra time, money, and resources because they don't understand the myriad complicated nuances of packing groceries. I'm not as good as I would like to be although I'm sure I would get better with practice. It's actually fun for me, but I know it would get old fast if that was my actual job. I feel for people who are confined to such a small space for hours at a time, it doesn't seem right or fair to me, but I'm paradoxically grateful they're in my life.

I'm exhausted and I haven't even gotten to work yet. I want more recognition for the people who don't get what I think they deserve. My manager does things the right way. She has high standards, like the people who know how to arrange assorted items in an eye pleasing and space saving manner. I admire the bar raisers and I strive to be one myself. You can go too far with anything, but you can also thank those who positively impact the bottom line at work because they can think in a way that others don't. The highlight of my day on Saturday was coming home and seeing all of the labels lined up so I could read them when I set my bag down to unpack it. I try to bag groceries so people can read the label on the front, I never thought about the items inside, that was cool to me.

Today I'm going to call my PT and see if I can get in earlier than next week. Something is wrong with my knee and ankle. Ever since I fell down the stairs the structures around that bone hurt when I over do it and they shouldn't. It's painful, upsetting, tiring, and I'm happy I got as much sleep as I did because I wasn't sure I would get any when I went to bed last night. My stomach hurts so I don't think I'm going to eat breakfast, this is always dicey because that might lead to blood sugar issues, but I'm really not sure food is the smartest option right now. I know my boss will let me leave early if I need to, but I hate doing that to her. Life goes on, and so will I, today I feel like it's going to be tough, but I can manage and thrive. It's always nice to have Jill around, just her being here helps.

Much love, 


P.S. I'm going to be okay, but I want more than that. Today I need hugs, rest, and pain relief. Hopefully those are on my agenda today and you'll get what you need as well. I'm already pretty nauseated, I don't know why I have so much trouble figuring these types of things out at times. I really thought I was coming down with something when my stomach hurt, it took me hours to realize my leg was bothering me and that makes me feel really stupid even though I know it shouldn't. My therapist sent me a text yesterday, hearing from her made my day, can't wait to see her later on this week...


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