PFAM – Where Is Your Happy Place?

The Office cast in the third season

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I don’t know where my “Happy Place” is. I’m not sure I even have one. A fantasy I have is living in a house on the ocean, warm, sunny weather, about 75 degrees, pink lemonade in colorful plastic glasses. Unless I win the lottery, (that’s another happy place) that’s not realistically going to happen. My life is really a collection of special moments that I have had already. My go-to place now is in the past.

Those positive memories in my mind, sometimes hard to get access to, are my happy places. My happy place is watching The Office with my seventeen year old daughter lying next to me, the sound of our laughter co-mingling. Browsing in the supermarket slowly, holding on the cart and looking at every new product is fun. For me, it’s a state of mind. I’m not going to lie and say it always works because there are times when I can’t conjure up a happy place. Those are the times when I curl up in bed, hurting, safely tucked in under the covers, trying to keep my pillow cool and my body warm, my dog snoring beside me. I accept those moments too, afterall, you can’t appreciate the happy places without the unhappy ones.

Creme Brulee ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, is a happy moment as well as a maple lollipop sent from a friend that I treasured for months before I gave myself permission to lick the amber sweetness. Helping other people makes me feel good, doing a good deed. Just the other day I saw an elderly neighbor looking upset and I helped her out; she was confused and worried about a “missing”  eight year old boy; I drove her around the neighborhood as we tried to find the location of a dawdling boy who hadn’t yet made it to his neighbor’s house for his ride to camp.

Filling my bird feeder after it’s been empty for a while with sunflower seeds so that the beautiful cardinal family and finches will come back makes me happy. I get happier after they find the food when they sing and dance, chirp and flutter and sing their melodious songs to each other. At night, watching fireflies is a happy moment, every time I see a deer I gasp with joy or a gray bunny rabbit hopping across our front yard.

I wish I had a happy place that I could go to easily but I don’t; it would reassure me and help me to feel peaceful and safe. That’s not my world though, it would be simpler if I had one. So, I try different things all the time, looking at old photographs when my children were young, doodling on a notepad, having the perfect peach, listening to my favorite songs and singing out loud, clear, strong and off-key. Those things make me happy, but to be honest, I have to work at it to find them.

Does Anyone Still Care Who Jennifer Aniston Is Dating? (Pop Cop)

The cast of Friends in the first season. Front...

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Come on people, do you really still care who Jennifer Aniston is dating this month? Wait, let me guess, is it a co-star from a recent movie? Every month it seems that there are articles on who Jen is dating and who she is not dating and whether she is still friendly with Friends co-star Courtney Cox.

FRIENDS WAS OVER IN 2004! I cared about the show, I will always like the show but the actors that played the characters? So over. If we are talking a Friends reunion, I admit, you have my undivided attention and interest. Janice’s presence is absolutely required along with another rendition of Phoebe’s Smelly Cat song. Until then, don’t bother me.

I admit I was surprised when Jen and Brad broke up but after that I kind of got over myself. I was heart-broken when Tom Cruise divorced Nicole Kidman again, not my life. I watched Friends over and over with my daughter. Every single episode again and again. My daughter would actually quote from the show, use references from the show but even she went on to Charmed, Lost and The Office.

She grew up, can’t we? I don’t need to look at magazine covers about whether Jennifer is adopting a baby or not. How about the media, the paparazzi leave her alone and let her figure out her own life?  How about not photographing her anymore; it’s just not cool. It’s also old. I’m not saying she’s old, but enough already.  Courtney Cox and David Arquette are now separated, gasp! Hang on to your BFF’s ladies, they will always be around for you, husbands, boyfriends…you never know, especially in Hollywood.

One more thing, I started a blog years ago called “Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry Need To Get Over Themselves” (Halle is not known for her solid relationships either) but I decided against it. Instead, I know, I wrote this.  How about we follow around really good philanthropists or people who have made a positive difference in the world. How about People, Us Weekly, Star and all the other magazines, show us that you won’t cover Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry for a whole year. Concentrate on real people, not actors or actresses or models or rockers. Show us only good examples.  Dare you.

I know, fat chance.

P.S. If Julia Roberts ever divorces Danny Moder I may just have to give up on the sanctity of marriage..not my own of course but everyone else’s. I admire them.

Where I Go for News

Channel Sunshine

 

I would assume that MOST people would take this as “the news” so the internet might be a choice, maybe breaking headlines during one of my yummy television shows like Grey’s Anatomy or Brothers and Sisters or Modern Family or even Parenthood or….I think I’ve said enough. When I have bad days from chronic pain from my Fibromyalgia and Auto-immune disease, I tend to watch a lot of television. I know. My bad. But, I will not watch “the news.”I will not watch any channel for the news unless it is absolutely necessary. Honestly, I get too overwhelmed, too stressed, too sad and mad and I am left feeling completely helpless and extremely anxious.

Bad personal news, however, should always be prefaced by a “Honey, I need to tell you something” or “I have some bad news” even “I think you should sit down.”This should only be done IN PERSON. It makes my brain prepare myself for something that I know will be unpleasant or upsetting, generally both. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of good news going around right now. Here are more television analogies: Oprah, to me was good news. Ellen, funny, warm news, Rosie, straight shooter and wonderfully pro-children, pro-democracy, pro-truth and yes, a little pro-nutty but that’s perfectly okay with me.

Many years ago I used to watch the news at night; not a chance anymore. I couldn’t fall asleep after hearing about all the tragedies and the deaths, murders and dismemberment that the newscasters would cheerfully declare. You always find out the bad news, it’s the good news that should be broadcast. Life is too short, we know the bad stuff, that spreads quickly. Good news? That, should be on it’s own special channel, MY channel, broadcast and celebrated everywhere, every day, even every hour throughout the country, throughout ALL countries in the world. Don’t you think it would make for a better day? I do.

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Plinky: How Do You Define A Friend?

Hot Glass, Ice Cubes and Room Temp Cola causes...

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I had a best friend for years, where trust, laughter, love and an eager dining companion perfected my single world.  Her name was Katy and we met in a small apartment building in a suburb of Boston. We were the “Mary” and “Rhoda” of the 80’s. The only thing missing from our studio apartments, one above the other, was the big first initial of our names hanging on the wall, just like Mar had. We met in the tiny laundry room one day where she gave me advice about wrinkles. When she grabbed my clothes from the washing machine, and shook them out, I felt a little uncomfortable.

We had been best friends for years and when I met the boyfriend I would eventually marry, I couldn’t wait to  introduce him to my best friend.  I admit, the first meeting was a little awkward; Katy was polite yet distant. Their was no warmth as we passed vegetable lo mein and chicken with broccoli amongst the three of us.

Later, my husband and I introduced her to the man she would marry, a friend of my husband’s. Katy and Bob were both loners and somewhat eccentric but we took enormous care in matching them up. There was no doubt in my mind that they would take to each other and they did. We danced at their wedding while my husband and I waited for the toast to us the “matchmakers.” There was none. The bride and groom sat alone, away from their family and friends, secluded from their own party. No, I was not the maid of honor.

There were normal friendly disagreements, like in any friendship, yet Katy never wanted to talk things out; she hated any type of confrontation. Looking back, our friendship was at its peak when I constantly placated her. When I became a more confident, independent person she did not like it yet she wouldn’t talk about it either. This started the chilly decline and her withdrawal. All of a sudden the warmth I had initially felt became a fake veneer, breaking glass to reveal nothing but ice.

One devastating situation that I shared with her was when my husband and I were trying to have a baby and I was depressed. She was in my car when I broke down once and sobbed. Back in the late eighties and early nineties no one talked about infertility treatments, it was a hushed topic filled with shame and heartbreak.

After two and a half years of painful infertility treatments I FINALLY got good news. I got a call from the nurse in the doctor’s office telling me I was pregnant; I softly closed the door to my office, sank on the dirty carpet, and wept. We waited through the first trimester with extreme caution telling no one except for immediate family.

I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend the news! She was so special to me I didn’t want to tell her on the phone so I invited her to dinner at her favorite restaurant.  With my voice filled with emotion, my Diet Coke shaking in my cold hands, I told her that I was pregnant and she was going to be an aunt. I waited for her response with tremendous excitement. I was expecting a shout of glee, a warm hug, excitement but there was nothing but silence. Nothing.  What I did get was a frozen expression and a few tears trickling down her face. She wouldn’t even talk; I was in utter shock, deeply disappointed and confused. When I questioned her reaction all she said was “I’m fine.”

What happened later is not my story to tell and I will not share her secrets because it’s not my place.  Her husband confided in us and told too many intimate things. I told Bob that we didn’t want to be put in the middle of their drama, that he should talk to her. He didn’t. When I tried to talk to Katy she denied everything and lied to my face. I can accept a lot in a relationship but lying is absolutely abhorrent to me. Tell me it’s none of my business but do not look me in the eye and lie.

Once pregnant, she dropped me, cold. I didn’t understand. There was nothing I could do to re-establish the bond which I thought was absolutely unbreakable. For many years I tried to reconnect but she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. She made that very clear. I can’t say I didn’t have clues, I had many: the way she treated her parents and only saw them once, maybe twice a year. They were not allowed to visit her in Boston.There were many other signs, I saw the pieces of the puzzle but never put it together until now. She was emotionally damaged and people had been telling me that for years. I just couldn’t believe them, I didn’t want to believe them. My very best friend in the world, not only broke my heart but shattered it. She ended our friendship quickly and abruptly as if she was throwing an emotional grenade in our direction, then she turned and fled. Not looking back. Ever.

My Favorite Celebrity

OPRAH, ANUS. ANUS, OPRAH.

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Oprah? Ellen? BOTH!

Ellen DeGeneres

This one would have been a no-brainer until about a year ago. Oprah was my girl, I love the things she does for people. I love the book groups, love how open she is and the difference she has made in the world. But now, I also love Ellen, pretty much for the same reasons. She’s funny, she makes me feel happy after I watch her show, she’s generous. She doesn’t have a book club, nor has she opened a school in Africa but that’s fine: she makes me laugh and has a huge heart. I have to admit with the economy the way it is (horrible), unemployment and the fear of terrorist attacks, I just want to forget reality, if only for an hour or two per day. I really don’t want more drama, so I turn to Ellen (while I tape Oprah). I want comedy and sunshine and the ability to forget my own troubles and I want so desperately to laugh. Both women have changed the world with their generosity and kindness, with their honesty and with their passion. My favorite celebrity? Let’s just call her: “ELLPRAH.” The best of both wonderful, smart and generous, women. I’m proud to be a fan.

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Pop Cop: Lindsey Lohan (Get A Grip)

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I read today that the quintessential Lindsey Lohan is headed back to rehab for violating the terms of her probation. Really. If it were up to me I would  boot her skinny white ass to jail where, I think, she belongs. Forgive me for being crass but let’s take the rich, glamorous, Hollywood glitz and celebrity status out of this situation and then do the math.  Replace Lindsey Lohan’s name with an UNKNOWN drug addict from ANYWHERE:  Hawaii, Nevada, Florida, New York, a tiny crack house in Los Angeles ( you pick) and then hand down your verdict. Remove the expensive lawyers, the media frenzy and the public’s fascination for Hollywood and where does that leave you? Probably in jail, with the rest of the people who don’t have a ton of money for rich, top-notch lawyers. If this case involved an unknown, “regular” person would they too receive the “get out of jail free” card? Not in my opinion. I don’t think they would get the same number of chances when they relapsed either.

How many “do-overs” would we get for the same exact crime?  Many people have drug and alcohol addictions and I am sure its an extremely difficult thing to go through but, in my personal opinion, it was made easier for Ms. Lohan.

I’m sick of a justice system that allows a young addict like Lindsey Lohan to go back to a rehab program instead of sharing a cell in the county jail (oh right, I forgot, she had her own private cell when she was in jail.)  Where is her orange jumpsuit now? What privileges have been taken away from her? They even removed the SCRAM bracelet that detects drugs and alcohol from her fragile, famed, skinny, ankle.

What’s next for Lindsey Lohan after rehab? Perhaps a movie career, a modeling job or a talk show host for the daytime diva.  I seem to be missing the part where she is supposed to say “I am totally responsible for my actions.” I don’t know what will happen to Ms. Lohan after her stint in rehab; I have no idea, nor do I truly care. In all likelihood she will be able to work on her clothing line in rehab and will reap the financial rewards when she gets discharged.

Will Lindsey Lohan go the route of Anna Nicole Smith? It’s a possibility, I’m sure. It’s in her best interest to finally get herself clean, I’m just not sure if she can stay clean and sober. For her sake, I hope she does. She has brought this upon herself, partying to all hours of the night with her friends; touting liquor like it was her favorite lipstick. Get clean Lindsey, you’ve been given yet another chance. Don’t mess it up.

Man vs Food #3 (Because You Asked For It)

Subliminal Nachos (Add-A-Note-Festival!)

Image by Lucky Bielka via Flickr

Welcome to Ann Arbor, Michigan home to deli sandwiches, stacked burgers and the University of Michigan. ENORMOUS EATS! That shouldn’t come as a shock since my friend, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food is apparently in town. A stack of greasy burgers is just waiting for him as he tries to bite, gulp, and swallow his way through the massive blimp-style burger. The  burger comes with various toppings, fried eggs, (I kid you not) salami, bacon, cheese, anything that you can think of. But wait, it’s only  1/10 of a lb. of meat so for Adam this must qualify as health food. What? I should have known: in this show you HAVE to stack the burgers. If you didn’t, it would mean you were practically on Weight Watchers! I forgot, It’s Adam’s world, (sounds like Wayne’s World only more gross, grosser?) and there must be a law somewhere about that.  Try bacon, egg and cheese on three burgers (heart attack alert?) Two to five (yes, five) burgers is the general request. However, I believe the record is for 43 patties… I’m sorry I must have misheard. I don’t think I can believe that. There are an enormous amount of burger combinations to keep your imagination alive: grilled items such as bacon and onions, and EVERY kind of cheese. Condiments include: olives, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup. Keep eating these mountains of hamburgers, it’s guaranteed to increase your cholesterol by a good, say 200-300 points.

Then, there’s the Ann Arbor game day tradition, the Maize and Blue deli, huge, special, triple play Rueben sandwich made with two slices of thick sourdough rye, homemade Russian dressing, sauerkraut ( ugh, the smell) Swiss and Jarlsberg cheeses (as if you really needed that extra bit of Jarlsberg’s nutty flavor). Combine that with four ounces each of pastrami and corned beef and  grill, (because it’s not greasy enough.)   Adam talks with his mouth full, we expect nothing less. Yes, you did see the coleslaw fly out of his chubby mouth as he was eating, no trick photography there! And, to think,  he thought the only great rueben sandwich could be found in NY. Silly boy, as they said in SNL, you “kid the public.” Adam, keep your mind and big mouth open and you will discover all the riches of the gastronomical world, all super-sized.

Right in front of me you can see his swollen, greasy upper lip. The next  competion and challenge? Nachos: I had a small dinner so I was able to watch Man vs Food without actually gagging. I want to know this dude’s cholesterol numbers. Even mine are high and I don’t eat one percent of what this guy eats. This show is the only time I feel that I could possibly turn into a vegetarian, easily.

Next up: a 5 lb nacho challenge. Yes, read my lips, 5 POUNDS of NACHOS at Tio’s Mexican Cafe. Apparently they run on wolverine spirit ( as in school spirit) and eat like wolverines to boot. It’s game time: “Eat Adam, eat!!” At Tio’s mexican cafe, the epic 5 lb. nachos include:  blue cheese, (can he substitute?) coleslaw, pork, beef,  chicken, and cheese, (volcano style )and more cheese. First there is a giant layer of chips, and an elephant portion of refried beans. Refried, as if frying them once was not enough. This is followed by Jack and Cheddar cheese. We’re only on the first floor of the nachos tower so we need to go to the second floor which includes: more chips, beef, chicken, pulled pork, garlic and lavender (lavender? that seems so delicate for this monstrosity, I’m sure they said hamburger. After that another layer of…well everything.  It melts perfectly in the oven and is then served with gushers of sour cream, guacamole, onions, olives, tomatoes, and to top it off (TADA!) a kiddie pool of melted cheese. It looks like the kind you can get in a jar (just saying it looks like it, didn’t say it was), the ultimate in “queso.”  In 45 minutes,  Adam has to try to eat the “whole thing” in order to get into the hall of fame where he could win a T-shirt (I’m guessing extra-large) and his picture on the wall. If he loses (gasp!) he will join others in the  hall of shame. At this point I seriously hope he busts a gut, on camera, up close and personal. Before him sits 5 pounds of nachos, the ultimate challenge (aren’t all his challenges called ultimate?) There are crowds of people cheering this dodo on. Can he do it? Will he make it? Of course he does. I can rest easy tonight knowing that he made it through five lbs. of greasy nachos and came out of it a winner, a champion. Oh Adam….you have done it again. My hero. Not.

GLEE- ful

It’s Tuesday and I am happy, you could say i was gleeful. Groan, I know.  Tonight I get to watch Glee, unfortunately it’s the finale. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know what Glee is? It’s a phenomenon. It’s a very creative show for kids, teenagers and adults; for anyone who cares about music, song and dance.  I started watching this amazing television show with my daughter; I admit I wasn’t an instant fan.  After a quick break I came running back on Tuesday nights apologetically to watch it again and I haven’t stopped since. I admit it; my daughter was right and I was wrong. In our family that sentence is like gold.

Is it embarrassing for a mom to admit that she loves the show? Maybe. Those talented kids, the wonderful cast. Did you see the duet with Lea and her biological mom? Breathtaking. Yes, I bought the song from iTunes and have played it a mere 49 times so far. Unfortunately, the famous Susan Boyle who first sang the song has faded into history for me now. With all due respect, Ms. Boyle, your time for me is over, blame it all on Glee.

I am grateful and impressed that this show showcases all types of people, different races and religions, the handicapped, different sexual orientations; the characters are all fully developed; that’s rare. When I saw Coach Sue interact so sweetly with her sister I wanted to cry, it was so tender and perfect.  Glee develops each character fully, they are multi-faceted human beings not caricatures. These actors play real people, imperfect, flawed, delightful and charming people, most of all they are incredibly talented.

That’s what life is all about, we all have many pieces to ourselves. Thanks to Glee’s creators for bringing this charming show into our lives for allowing us to enter a world where it is okay to be flawed, where it is expected and accepted. Thank you for teaching us all how to grow and look at people differently, more openly. There’s beautiful music from Madonna to Les Miserables, exposing all of us to a whole new world of music,and a new way of looking at life.

Give it up for Glee.

The Cranky Defense

It’s early Monday morning and I was woken up by the screech of the buzz saws right below our bedroom window jarring me from sleep straight into a miserable, throbbing headache.  Before I even began my day the hammers pounded in my head along with the screeching of the electric saws in high decibel, extra-loud volume, like the shrieking sounds of an inconsolable child.

I am cranky because the work being done on the house is to fix a big (sic: expensive) problem that meant digging under the house, replacing wood and floor tile. Two square feet of floor tile was replaced and now I have a dark and dismal two- toned, mismatched kitchen floor and I hate it. I think it is symbolic of all that I feel.

I am miserable because neither my husband or I have a job and that scares the hell out of me. Our two teenage children are winding down their school days and will be in summer camp for 8 weeks. I am happy for them but let’s face it being in a house with your beloved spouse, 24/7 is not good even in the best of times. I tug at the collar of my shirt, to indicate present and future hyperventilating; I know he must feel the same way.

I’m cranky about many different things: that we weren’t invited to a barbeque, that we don’t quite fit in with the “in crowd” that we are in a bad place because of the economy. Little things make a difference:  I was looking forward to watching the finale of Survivor with my husband but of course, the second I opened my computer I saw who the winner was. Really? Can they not just wait 24 hours before they plaster the spoiler all over the internet?  As an act of great love and kindness I did not tell my husband who the winner was; he deserves the pleasure of surprise.

I feel ill at ease and at night, before bedtime, I try to think of  jobs to do but that just causes me to get agitated and then I can’t fall asleep. When I finally fall asleep, I sleep restlessly and have nightmares about my mother every single night. I am always angry at her and she is mean and doesn’t seem to care.

The only positive side to my crankiness is that at least I am not eating an excessive amount of food to cheer myself up.  In the past, I would have been at Mr. Donut Man ordering raspberry jelly doughnuts. Oprah and her friends would be so proud.

My health is unchanged, I have no energy and the new drug, Cellcept, used for auto immune diseases hasn’t kicked in yet. I don’t know if it will even help. My guru Dr. keeps telling me to be patient; that’s easy for him to say. He hasn’t had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and a myriad of other illnesses continuously for the last 3 years.  I am tired of being patient. I am tired of being tired.

I went for a blood test again today  at Quest Labs that hurt as the needle wiggled and skipped to find its way to my bluish-gray vein.I made the mistake of glancing over and seeing the dark red blood filling up tube after tube.  I noticed that their linoleum in the lab was identical to the dreaded beige-brown fiasco that now lives in my kitchen.

I’m lonely. I ache for my father who passed away eight years ago and I miss him, Father’s Day is looming ahead of me like the extended weather forecast for thunderous storm clouds. It’s a lengthy invitation to depression. I think the only place I should  go to is the cemetary where my father is buried. At least there, I am allowed to cry; I am allowed to mourn, and all my pent-up emotions will explode and I will place a perfectly round, white stone on his gravesite and allow myself to grieve.

Running Away: My “Rachel Green” (Friends) Moment

Friends Season 2

Image by IvanTortuga via Flickr

It’s no secret that being an adult can be very stressful at times for a variety of reasons. It could be parenting, it could be employment or unemployment,  marriage, illness or a combination of the above.  Parenting, to me, is utterly delicious but not always easy especially when you have two teenagers in High School at the same time.  Adulthood in itself can also be extremely overwhelming; you are older and things are not as easy as they used to be.  Everything is harder and more difficult however, if you live with a chronic illness. Your energy level is low, you feel weak, you feel pain, tiredness and sometimes sad and discouraged. That is the world I live in.

My husband and I had agreed to meet for lunch in the city where he was working.  I was coming from one of  many doctor appointments and feeling very discouraged. I think I had been to my  Opthamologist who had to relaser my eyes for the umpteenth time for my narrow- angled glaucoma. Or,  It could have been to see my Rheumatologist who is in charge of auto -immune diseases for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It could have been both.

We ordered our food and then I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Once I got inside I saw a big, wide open window,   leading to the street. Yes, I admit it,  I had a moment. I had a Rachel Green moment ( for those of you who don’t know the tv episode of Friends, she climbs out of the window at her wedding and runs away). For a few seconds I pictured myself climbing out that window;  I was absolutely stunned. Shocked. Eerily quiet.  For a split second I thought to myself, “I could just leave through this window and escape.”   I saw myself in  France or Italy,  eating warm, dense, freshly baked bread, pulling it apart and dunking it in olive oil.  I laid in the soft green velvet grass surrounded by leafy, gorgeous trees and rolling hills. There were wildflowers of every color, purple, yellow, pink and white.  I was alone. I was another person and, I was happy, feeling marvelous and buoyant and free. Free of illness, free of worry, I had just stepped into the colorized version of my life; I had entered into my own personal  Wizard of Oz.

No one could have been more shocked than me!  I shook my head quickly at the notion, but as I was returning to the table (and confessing to my husband) I still saw that image in my mind.  The sweetest thing was the feedback my husband gave me which was “I don’t blame you!!” I would NEVER do it,  would NEVER leave my family, but the fact that the thought popped into my mind was absolutely startling.

My husband and I finished our lunch and my husband led me to the train, the pain in my eyes like sharp, steel wires under attack, unable to see clearly and with a severe headache that pounded  the entire right side of my face. I stumbled to  Starbucks and bought a cup of coffee and a densely rich, moist,  brown sugar and molasses cookie for the ride. As  the train doors shut, I settled in, seated next to a window, in a chair facing my home and away from the city. Taking small, sugary bites from my molasses cookie I tried to relax.  My back nestled in the old, worn, smelly quilted chair. I sat quietly, listening to the  slow, chug-chug beat of the train like a song that was stuck on only one phrase, repeatedly. I sat in the train, the 2:48  that was delivering me back home.