Tonight I went to my aunt and uncle’s house to have dinner and hang out. I was supposed to pick up an order of Chinese food for us but I ended up leaving my apartment much too early because I accounted for traffic and there wasn’t any. I went straight to their house and as soon as I arrived I remembered they have a dog now. They’ve probably had the dog for a while by now but I don’t see them often and it’s still new to me. I was wearing a white sweater and just got my nose pierced the day before and was worried about one or both of them getting messed up. Nothing happened though – the dog is a good dog. All dogs are good dogs, I just like cats better because they’re smaller and don’t lick as much. After a while my aunt and I went out to pick up the food. I drove, which felt weird because I almost never drive members of my family anywhere.
There was a car parked in the way of the exit at the restaurant. We wondered why they did that, and saw it was a real parking space. I waited while my aunt went inside and watched a minivan parked at the car wash across the street. The back door was open, showing a girl sitting cross-legged while her brother break danced in front of her. The owner of the badly-parked car beside me returned and drove away. Another car pulled in almost immediately. My aunt returned with the food and I told her about the kids and cars. I remembered the way back by myself and did not need her to direct me. I did need a confirmation on the correct road, though.
I got Szechuan chicken, which I had somehow gone my entire life without ever ordering before. The restaurant used water chestnuts and baby carrots, which I do not like. They also used bok choy, which I do like. I had to ask someone what it was. My aunt and uncle ordered an egg roll for me even though I didn’t ask for one, which was super cool. While we ate, we talked about movies we’d seen. I learned that they hadn’t actually seen Hobo with a Shotgun, which I’d tried to watch a few years ago but turned off because it was too gruesome. I heard them talking about it at Christmas one year and thought they’d seen it. I was freaked out for a day or two after seeing the movie, even though I know it was just a movie and I only watched about 30 minutes of it.
I had eaten my leftover Moe’s for lunch and didn’t know what I wanted for dinner. I didn’t want to go out and get something since I had pasta, chicken breast, and pesto at home, but I didn’t want to make chicken pesto pasta. I also still had goat cheese left. The ciabatta rolls were hard as a rock by then, and completely inedible. I thought about what a sandwich out of two frozen blueberry waffles would taste like, then decided to do it. It ended up not being flavorful enough.
I took a photo and thought about putting it on Instagram. I looked for some potential hashtags and then decided against it. I think I texted the photo to someone, but I can’t remember. It’s not like me to make weird sandwiches, even though that one wasn’t all that weird. I felt like someone who might be interesting, but only compared to someone who’s sort of boring. I did well playing along with Jeopardy that night, as I had every night of the Teen Tournament.
I decided to get Moe’s after being dropped off at my car since I would be passing through the part of town where it was. Actually, there is another one on the same road I live on, but it is pretty far away and may not even be the closer one. I prefer Chipotle, but was in the mood for queso. I looked at the menu that was posted on the wall and was immediately annoyed. It had kitschy item names based on movie and TV references like “Earmuffs” and “Art Vandalay” (which is actually spelled “Vandelay” on Seinfeld), but didn’t describe what the items were or what they contained. I ordered a chicken bowl for carry out and was glad not to be corrected on the name.
A woman and her son got in line behind me and asked me where the nearest cheesecake restaurant was. I wondered if she meant the nearest Cheesecake Factory or the nearest bakery that sold cheesecakes. I was tired and didn’t feel like getting clarification, so I told her the mall had the nearest Cheesecake Factory. She looked back at her son and told him they weren’t going all the way over there. I agreed it was far away and told her that there are only like three Cheesecake Factories even in the whole state. She and her son left without ordering.
I had to wait to get shredded cheese because they had to refill the container. While I was waiting, I asked for some spicy ranch. The guy put way too much, and it was painful to watch. I had a lot of time for thoughts while he was squeezing the ranch onto my bowl, as it felt like it lasted much longer than it probably did. I told myself, “He’ll stop soon. He won’t keep going. I should stop him. I should’ve told him I only wanted a little bit. Oh well, I’m sure he’ll stop soon. Oh my God, that’s so much. This isn’t going to reheat well. Oh finally.” The cheese came and he didn’t put any on, so I stood on my tiptoes over the sneeze guard and asked about it. I did not get any queso.
At the counter, the cashier asked me if I got the Earmuffs. I said, “I don’t know what that means.” She asked, “Chicken bowl?” and I said, “Oh, yes.” She gave me the receipt to sign and the pen I picked up did not work. I tried to get the ink to flow by scribbling at the top and tore the paper. The cashier gave me a bag of chips and pointed to the salsa bar. I got a little cup of all five kinds of salsa, but only the two green kinds were good. Back at home, after I’d eaten half of the bowl and half of the chips, I wanted a bag of cookies from the vending machine downstairs. The machine would not accept my selection, even though there was a whole row full of cookies. I chose a fudge round instead. I ate half of it then wrapped it back up. I ate the other half a few minutes later.
I offered to make the sandwiches that we bought ingredients for on Saturday. We’d gone out to get coffee with a Starbucks gift card and Graham wanted to walk over to Fresh Market. I asked if it was close and he said it was. About halfway there, I told him it was not as close as I thought it would be. It was windy and even thought my hair was pulled back it was still blowing all over my face and getting stuck in my lip balm. I told him I wish we hadn’t walked. I told him I want to make him as annoyed with me as I am with the wind.
When we got there, three guys were standing outside the store beside the Fresh Market. One of them put a lit cigarillo gently on the ground beside a pillar. I told Graham he should run back and steal it from them. He said no. I told him to run back and stomp on it. He laughed and said no to that too. The inside of the grocery store was much better than the outside. My mood improved as we looked at all the expensive produce and salad dressings. There were citrus fruits called something like Buddha’s hands and cranberries in miniature bogs. We decided to get pesto, ciabatta rolls, and goat cheese to make sandwiches with the shredded crock pot chicken I’d made yesterday and the capicola Graham had brought from home.
I set the oven on broil while I sliced the ciabatta rolls and got out the other ingredients. I browned the outsides of the rolls then turned them over to put in the fillings. I toasted them open faced like that and accidentally got the edges of the bread too crispy. It was still good though. Graham put on a documentary he had saved on my Netflix about a race through the mountains in Tennessee called the Barkley Marathons. I believe that was also the name of the documentary. I didn’t like the man who created the race very much, as he seemed to make it difficult just for his enjoyment. He mentioned at the end that he couldn’t even do part of the race. I guess I support the people who can do it, but I just don’t understand why anyone would want to.
Graham and I went to dinner at a restaurant called Relish. I ordered lunch from there once before, right after I voted. There was a sign that offered 10% off if you could show your “I voted” sticker. I had already taken mine off after taking a few pictures and putting one on Instagram. It was still in my purse, folded in half, and I asked the cashier if that would still count. It did, unlike my vote (haha, am I right?). I’d ordered a chicken salad sandwich with cheese grits. The chicken salad was good, but it tasted like it only had chicken, mayo, and dill in it. I prefer chicken salad that has more pieces, like onions or relish. When I make chicken salad at home, I use cream cheese since I don’t like mayo.
We had a few beers before we left and ordered another when we got there. I wanted to get a wrap that had turkey, avocado, and some other stuff that I don’t remember, but I wanted it as a sandwich on bread. I asked Graham if he thought they could do that, then decided of course they could. When I ordered it, the waitress said they couldn’t do that. Graham ordered a burger with bacon jam and I ordered a bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sandwich with feta. We ordered side salads with our meal and a skillet of macaroni and cheese to split. When the waitress brought the food, she noticed the burger did not have any bacon jam on it. She brought it back with the proper topping almost instantly.
While we ate, Graham read me poems he has been working on for a manuscript. The first one was about a zoo. I realized I wasn’t paying attention when I heard him talking about chimps and tapirs. The poem was about a husband and wife with their child and I wondered if he thought of me when he was building this scenario. It ended with the wife going back to live with her parents – in the plural – and figured he probably didn’t. The next poem, or maybe the one after that, was about me. I tried not to cry and wondered if he noticed.
Tonight the barbecue food truck came to my apartment. I had been thinking about it since around lunchtime and was imagining sinking my teeth into some pulled pork. I changed into my comfy clothes when I got home, so I started looking for some more presentable clothes to change into when it was time to go to the food truck. I quickly decided it wasn’t a big deal when I couldn’t find anything right away.
I got in line directly in front of the window, but kept having to move to the side to let cars pass by. A guy made a comment that he got tired of doing that, so he just stayed to the side. I told him that was a good idea and got in line beside him. He asked if I’d ordered from this truck before and said he really enjoyed it last time. I told him that I did too. We discussed the menu and noticed that there were some items hand-written on the menu that were not there the last time the truck came. The guy ordered the pulled pork plate with Brunswick stew and potato salad. I asked him what Brunswick stew was. He described it and I thought it sounded kind of weird but told him it sounded good. When he was given his tray, he stepped to the side so I could order while he put sauce on his food. I ordered the pulled pork plate with macaroni and cheese and cowboy beans. The owner told me he was out of macaroni and I clutched my heart in mock anguish. I decided on potato salad instead. While the owner prepared my tray, the guy from earlier told me to let him know how the cowboy beans were. I told him that I would while wondering if I would even see him again. He looked familiar, so maybe I had seen him around and might again, but he also had the same look that a lot of guys do and I couldn’t be sure. Maybe he was just making conversation about my beans because I’d asked about his stew.
Today the supervisor conducting the orientation did not specify if or when we would break for lunch, which made me very anxious. There were only two of us in today’s orientation, and the other woman is scheduled for third shift. Tomorrow I will be the only one in the orientation. When we were asked if we had any questions, I asked about lunch. She said we could break in a few moments and have 45 minutes to go out and get something. I decided today would be the day I got Nashville hot chicken from KFC.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I thought about getting coleslaw with the order. I remembered my mom saying once how much she like KFC’s coleslaw because they put carrots in it. She died about eleven years before I started liking coleslaw, so I can’t tell her that I think it’s really good too. It was busy inside, and I had to wait a while to order. I scanned the seating and looked for a small table that wasn’t too close or too far from anyone else. My order was called shortly after I sat down, and I wondered if I should bring my purse with me to pick it up. The counter was only a few steps from the table, but I would have to turn my back to it which could give someone an opportunity to steal the purse. I left it at the table. After a few bites, I realized I forgot to ask for some finger licking sauce. I did take my purse with me this time.
I felt awkward while I was eating, like the feeling you get after you’ve been on a trampoline and try to jump on the flat ground, or after you’ve been running on a treadmill and start walking on the regular floor again. I tried eating the chicken tenders with my spork, but it didn’t work well. I started eating with my hands and wondered if anyone in the restaurant would have an opinion on that. I wondered if anyone in the restaurant had any opinion about me at all.
During the CPR training course, I asked the instructor if there will be a break for lunch. She replied that there wouldn’t, since the class will be over at 1:00. I explained that some of us have another training starting at 1:00, and asked if it would be okay if I ate the baggie of Cheerios I brought from home. She joked that it would only be okay if I brought enough for everyone, and some other people made similar comments. I laughed along with the class. I felt bad for the woman to my right, who has the same job position as me and was one of the two women I have talked to most since starting. She was going to the same training at 1:00 and I wondered if she brought any snacks. I offered her some of my Cheerios, but she declined. I was glad because they were stale and I didn’t want anyone to find out.
The class ended up finishing around 12:30, which gave me enough time to get some fast food. I know where the restaurants are now and do not need to use my GPS. I decided to go to Sheetz since I also needed gas. When I got there I noticed “Born to Run” was playing over the speakers. While I was fueling my car, the man on the opposite side of the pump asked if I am using “Flex Fuel,” which has the number 88 and is something specific to Sheetz. I told him I didn’t know what it was, so I just used the normal 87 gas. I noticed he had adult braces, making him the third person with them that I’ve seen in the past four days. He asked what year my car was and explained that if it is a 2001 model or newer, it could use Flex Fuel, which is what they use in NASCAR. He didn’t seem like the type of person who would watch NASCAR, but I didn’t say anything. I thought about asking if it had the number 88 because that was Dale Jr.’s number, but I didn’t say that either.
When I finished, I pulled my car into a parking space and went inside to get something to eat. I ordered a cheeseburger from the do-it-yourself touch screen ordering thing. I got it with fried pickles instead of normal ones. I ate it in the car on the way back to work and thought the patty was a little bland. I wished I had gotten something to drink, but we’re not allowed to have anything that the patients can tell is soda and I hate to pay for water. Luckily, the lobby where my training was held had a water jug. It had a cylinder inside where sliced fruit or herbs can be used to infuse the water with flavor. There were lemons and limes in the cylinder but they were left whole and not cut at all, so the water did not have any flavor.
I pulled down the toaster from on top of the refrigerator and put it on the counter to make frozen waffles for breakfast. As I was moving it, I noticed all the crumbs at the bottom of the toasting slots. It just looked like crumbs, but I bet it was really gross. I’ve had that toaster for about four years and have never cleaned it. Do the crumbs get sanitized by the heat when the toaster is used? I’m telling myself yes because I don’t feel like cleaning the toaster. It seems like one of those tasks that looks like it would be simple then proves more complicated once you get started.
I put the coffee maker next to the toaster on the counter so I could make coffee, obviously. I don’t have much counter space in this apartment, and I miss my old apartment every time I am made aware of how little space there is. As I spooned coffee into the filter basket, a few grounds fell into the toaster. I started the coffee maker, pushed the waffles into the toaster, and finished getting ready.
The food truck at my apartment tonight had gyros, so I got one made with lamb. I did not get a side. The gyro had onions, which I only recently started to like raw. There was a guy already there waiting, and he had his dog with him. The dog looked like a mix between a Rottweiler and a Labrador. After glancing back and smiling at the dog a few times, I asked the guy what kind it was. He said he didn’t know, but it was some type of Lab mix. I told the guy it looks like there is Rottweiler in him too, and I asked if I could pet him. He said yes, so I scratched the dog’s head until the guy told the dog to sit down.
I checked the mail on the way back upstairs, and wondered if I had received the gift card Graham’s mom said she was sending. She said she thought of me and got it when she was in “our favorite store,” but I don’t know which that could be. My first guess was Target. That would upsetting if the gift card had arrived today, since I had just come from Target and spent over $100 on makeup and clothes. The only mail was a bill and some coupons.
I got upstairs and ate the gyro while watching an episode of Chopped that had already started. The guide said “one of the judges becomes inordinately upset by a non-basket ingredient,” and I earnestly hoped I hadn’t missed that part. What could the ingredient be? What about it could have made a judge so upset? Which judge was it? I realized I had missed it when I didn’t see any scene like it in the remainder of the episode. Will that episode ever come on again for me to see the scene? How much will I ruminate on this in the days to come? Maybe I can search online for clips or even a synopsis of that scene. As I was eating the gyro, some of the tomatoes and lettuce fell off, so when I finished I sprinkled salt on the tomatoes and ate them with a fork. I still felt hungry, but wasn’t in the mood for anything else.