Summer break and a Safeway story.

Hi crew!

It’s been a while and a half, hasn’t it? I decided I was going to take a summer break, primarily because I did the Classic Lizzie Thing in which I totally overload myself with two classes, thirteen discrete projects at work, a slew of visitors in town every weekend, and a social life that has been nothing if not overcommitted. Oh and also trying to go to the gym regularly and get a new car (my lease was up) and plan out the NEXT several months of my life. So some things had to give, and my blog was one of them. Alas! Alors! Anyway!

I’m hopping back in with a happy little moment from yesterday, involving me being a scatterbrain and the world being kinder to me than I deserve. I’ve been a bit homesick lately, after a rough month or two in general, and it was such a great reality check.

It started with a Sunday afternoon trip to my local Safeway, which is generally a mistake. I’m actually coming to think that going to my local Safeway, period, is generally a mistake (someday I’ll tell you all of my passionate love for Trader Joe’s, oh dear). Sunday afternoons at my local Safeway are overcrowded, understaffed, and always frenetic, and I am never at my best when faced with that combination of circumstances. I was also post-gym and pool on this particular Safeway trip, which meant salty hair, minimal makeup, and a “weekend T-shirt” (my designation) of the variety that really shouldn’t see the light of day. This particular “weekend T-shirt” was a just-because gift from my mother with the old Dayton’s department store logo on it. This is relevant, I promise!

After gathering all my ingredients for coconut curry chicken meatballs, Mexican corn, and a week’s worth of salad lunches, I popped the prettiest bunch of perfect white hydrangeas into my cart on a whim. The checkout lines, per usual, were minimum five people deep, so I settled in and whipped my phone out to read while I waited. The guy behind me had different ideas, and struck up a conversation:

“You’re not from Minnesota, by any chance, are you?” he said. I goggled at him, completely dumbfounded. I hadn’t said anything, so the accent hadn’t given me away. I wasn’t wearing any sports gear or anything. So I affirmed, cautiously, “I am – how on earth did you know?”

“It’s your shirt,” he continued, “it’s the Dayton’s logo. I haven’t seen that forever.” And I laughed, and we started the most pleasant conversation about where we were from, how much we missed Minnesota, et cetera. He had just been home at a family cabin on the Whitefish Chain, and he hailed from a suburb right by mine. I was having so much fun chatting with him, in fact, that as I unloaded my cart I completely neglected to grab my hydrangeas out of the child seat basket.

So I got all rung out and the cashier had already started scanning my new friend’s items, and all of a sudden as I was wheeling my cart out of the lane I spotted my flowers. In typical Lizzie form, I spazzed, offered to go to the back of the line, offered to go put them back, and all the while the cashier and bag boy are looking at me like, “what the eff, lady,” which just made me more self-conscious and embarrassed.

My Edina guy, cool as a cucumber, swooped my flowers out of my cart and said, “Don’t worry about it, let me buy your flowers.” Guys, I could feel myself turning beet-red with mortification as I dug through my purse looking for cash to offer him and came up empty-handed. And again, he goes, “It’s no big deal, it’s just a nice thing to do – let me buy a fellow Minnesotan a bouquet, seriously.” And I’m simultaneously utterly charmed and incoherent, so there was much stumbling over words and profuse thanking and bumbling around like a dork.

I’m not sure why this was such a monumental big deal to me. Maybe it’s that I’ve been a little cynical lately about humankind in general and Californians to be specific. This is not the sort of thing that happens here, and I realized that I took all of that very much for granted at home – the door-holding, the bag-carrying, the general demeanor of pleasantness and assiduity. It felt, for just a minute, like I was home and surrounded by people who cared, just a little bit, about making other people’s lives easier and happier and brighter. And that, in that moment, was not only nice, but kind of essential. So we said our goodbyes, and I headed to my car, smelling my hydrangeas all the way and feeling just a little more faith in the goodness of humanity.

Bookworm: June 2018

“The eagerness of a listener quickens the tongue of a narrator.” 
―Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

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Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes: The latest installment of the Wade and Lizzie Transcontinental Book Club - I had somehow never had to read this in school and I'm not sure why, because I'm pretty sure it's required just about everywhere. The story of a mentally handicapped man who is rendered superintelligent through surgery, with vast personal and scientific implications/complications. Pounded through it in about 3 hours - it's the kind of novel that's hard to put down, once started. 

A Life in Men, Gina Frangello: This was a lengthy, riveting novel - two stories intertwined as one, every other chapter. The "odd" chapters chronicle the story of two eighteen-year olds on an ill-fated trip to Greece; the even, the story of one of their lives with cystic fibrosis. Every so often Ms. Frangello would allude to a future event that the reader has no previous knowledge of, and every time she buried the lede like that it sucked me in a little harder. I hesitate to call this a beach read, but it was fantastic while at the same time an easy, interesting, accessible pick. 

Enjoyed: 

By the Book, Julia Sonneborn: This modern-day retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion was charming, fluffy and light - set at a California college, Anne is an English teacher whose college sweetheart becomes the president of her university. I liked it, but it didn't steal my heart like Austen's original did...of course. 

The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo: So here's my beef with this - I loved aspects of it, notably some of the turns of phrase and the writing style, but I felt like the plot was a bit thin. I'm having a sort of hard time with the whole glamorization of soulmates being an excuse for infidelity lately; I've seen it quite a bit in several of the books I've chosen and I'm just not down with it. All said and done, a good summer read but one I'm not dying to revisit. 

The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell: I got weirdly into this toward the end - the premise, that a descendant of the Brontë family is seeking her long-lost and possibly fictional inheritance, was quirky and just off-kilter enough to keep things moving. The writing got a bit repetitive at times for me, though it did spur a dive back into the Brontës' writing! 

Tolerated: 

Nothing this month - so nice! 

Re-reads: 

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë: I've always loved poor Jane, and dove back in after a: finishing "The Madwoman Upstairs" and b: getting obsessed with "Jane Eyre: The Musical" thanks to Francesca. This read-through really kicked me in the teeth - lots of feels for Jane and how disenfranchised she is by virtue of her station/appearance/status, lots of empathy for why she fell for Mr. Rochester and just in general a lot of smacking myself over the head with "DUH" moments.