Cutting in Line

The strangest, silliest, and most awkward thing happened to me and my mother.

We were staying at this fancy hotel in Tucson. We came over to visit my sister for her husband’s birthday, but since a friend of his was also planning to come over at the same time, we couldn’t stay at their place. I honestly didn’t mind that too much. Being able to relax in a spa-like environment was a consolation. 

After an early wake-up thanks to my mother’s internal alarm clock being set to three in the morning, the two of us went to go get coffee. We meandered past the hotel’s lobby, drinking in the do-nothing leisure of the morning. The resort’s coffee bar was located past this bridge/walkway connecting the lobby to a part of the building that housed conference rooms and ballrooms. On this bridge, you can look out on a gorgeous view of the Arizona desert. The sky was a silvery grey and the land was a muted red speckled with cacti. My mom and I paused a bit to admire the scenery.

Since it was so early, there weren’t many people out and about. Only one other person stood on the walkway, a bearded man in work-out clothes, earbuds plugged into his ears, his eyes glued to the phone in his hand instead of the horizon. He was leaning against the walkway’s railing, and he ignored my mom and me as we stepped past him.

The coffee bar was situated right by the entrance onto the walkway. So as soon as we entered the chill, air-conditioned space, we could see the line to order. Only two people were ahead of us, and we walked forward, chatting about my sister and her visit. Nonchalantly, the man from the walkway stepped past us and cut us in line. He did this almost unobtrusively, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. My mom even halted her progress forward in the queue because it seemed like the man knew his business. It seemed like he was going somewhere else, that’s how officious and I-know-what-I’m-doing his demeanor was.

I exclaimed once to my mother in dismay, but then we shrugged in acceptance. People being unfair or thoughtless is just part of life. We settled in behind this man and continued our conversation.

“Excuse me,” a homely, Southern drawl sounded behind us. My mother and I turned. A large bald man, with an American flag tattooed on his arm and emblazoned on his shirt,  was standing over us. “Did that man just cut you off in line?”

Surprised at having our shame addressed so openly and also amiably embarrassed about the whole thing, we nodded our heads and said, “Yeah, but it’s okay.”

The bald man shook his head in grim consternation. “Man, it really burns my asshole when folks do that. It’s rude, and they think they can just get away with it.”

His genuine outrage at what we considered a minor misfortune caught us off guard. “Sorry,” we mumbled apologetically.

Then, after speaking a few more words of dissatisfaction, he strode past us and just got up in the other man’s grill. This man, the bearded one with earbuds, was still plugged into his phone, so he flinched and his eyes widened in shock when the big bald man thrust a finger in his shoulder and started scolding him for his audacity. Our “defender” gesticulated angrily, imparting his disdain in direct fashion. He pointed at my mom and me a few times. His victim was nonplussed, flabbergasted, and his gaze flicked back and forth between the behemoth in front of him and us.

As soon as his anger was spent, the bald man picked up his coffee and left. The man with the earbuds stared after him, stunned, but then made a derisive snorting sound at the back of his throat. He spared one more glance toward us, then went back to his phone.

My mom and I looked at each other, her with social panic and me with amused hysteria. What were we supposed to do or say after that? The people at the coffee bar were all staring at us. The scene had been quite loud.

Afterwards, the whole thing made for a fun story to regale my sister with. She laughed at the awkwardness we had been placed in. But she also commented on how the situation was a prime example of how people’s perspectives differ. Exploring the different viewpoints of everyone there perfectly showcases how people can approach courtesy and right versus wrong. Justifying your actions can take different forms.

The man with the earbuds justified getting ahead of me and my mom because he was planning on just ordering a water. We found this out when I tried apologizing to him for the altercation. I don’t think he heard what I was saying. He never acknowledged my words. He just kept repeating, “I’m just getting a water.” He probably thought the bald man made a mountain into a mole hill. 

The bald man, on the other hand, felt justified in berating another person out of a sense of chivalry, perhaps. Or maybe he had had a real bad day and the sight of an unrelated injustice enraged him as a result.

As my friends know by now, since I’ve bored their ears off retelling this tale over and over again. I’m having a lot of fun analyzing the situation. It fascinates me. 

Can You Feel the Heat Tonight?

Hello, my Above Average readers!

Another summer, another incredible rise in temperatures.

It feels like every summer I have to make a post commenting about how hot it is where I live.

But such is the drama of my life.

Holy hell, it is hot outside right now. Baking temperatures. I feel like a piece of bread that has been placed in an oven to crisp. My evening walks, even if the sun is down, feel as hot as a midday stroll. In order to maintain my physical health (of which I’m doing a very poor job), I’ve had to do some exercises indoors. And when I do go for a walk outside, it’s an absolute must to bring a bottle of water with me. (And a pair of clothes that I don’t mind getting drenched in sweat.)

My sister lives in a desert that has an active monsoon season around this time of year. So while it is still warm weather, these summer storms laden with heavy, lightning-filled clouds will roll in, giving the land a much-needed moisture dump.

The heat almost matches the broiling summers in the desert where I live, but petrichor-smelling winds and cool droplets of rain make her desert a lot more enjoyable.

Of course, the summer isn’t without its perks. I get to hear news stations along the United States’ East Coast talking about how it is a “sweltering ninety degrees.” I’d like to see them melt alongside me in 120 degree heat.

Your mouth dries up with every breath, and there is a heaviness to your lungs that you can’t shake. All your body’s moisture migrates to your armpits, your brows, the small of your back, and behind your knees. If it’s really hot, your eyeballs sort of start to ache.

But sometimes I find the heat welcoming, like a really large, overbearing sweater. The air conditioning inside a building can feel harsh, chill, and artificial; summer heat can feel like a natural blanket of warmth that wants to smother you with affection.

I like it and dislike it.

So just as I wait for summer during winter, I am now waiting for winter during summer.

My love for summer is currently sweating itself away like an hourglass full of sand that trickles down.

Work Work Work

To put it mildly, work has largely taken over my life.

I work six days a week, from about 7:30 to 3:00, depending on the workload, and it’s gotten so I no longer use my computer for pleasure. It’s either work, blogging, or a video chat with someone.

This might sound like the beginning to a tirade about my overly lengthy work hours but I’ve got to be honest.

I freakin’ love it.

I feel pumped almost every time I hop online to work. I’m writing about video games, polishing up other people’s articles, collaborating with people who have the same passions that I do. It’s just all so fantastically unreal to me that I have reached this point in my life.

I never thought I would be the kind of person to be swept up by a “career,” but it’s accurate to say that (aside from family), my life now revolves around work.

This could all implode in my face one day.

I might find that my work-life balance is not being met, and that my downtime is just being wholly subsumed by my work.

Side note: I’ve actually had days where that has happened, where I’ve stayed in my computer chair till 7 at night and my eyeballs are dying and my back is aching and I am just fed up with words.

But for right now, I am reveling in it.

It feels so mentally active. I’m loving it.

And I just thought I would let you all know that.

Life Update #10: The Power of the Sippy Cup

Lately, I’ve faced a quandary.

I have been trying to increase my water intake, which means I always keep a cup of water by my side when I work.

However, my entire career is basically housed in this computer. If I were to accidentally spill water on this baby, I would be in big doo-doo. So keeping a mug of water on hand dances with danger.

I’ve dabbled with plastic water bottles. They come complete with cap, and I can take a quick swig without worrying about sloshing water all over the place. The downside is that you can only reuse them so many times before they start to stink, and they are rather wasteful when it comes to the environment.

So then I tried using a reusable metal water bottle. I could wash it and use it as many times as I wanted. Problem solved, right?

No!

See, in order to be able to properly wash these water containers so they don’t smell to high heavens, the neck and mouth of the bottle have to be wide enough to stick my scrubber brush down when I clean it. And if the neck of the bottle is too wide, I run into the same problem as when I was using glasses and mugs. I can’t recklessly swig down water without fearing for the dryness of my shirt and my keyboard.

What’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what.

You get a sippy cup.

My tias (my aunts) gifted me a blue sippy cup, and it is the answer to my water-drinking prayers. It is a metal cup with a plastic lid that has a small opening. It can keep chilled drinks super cool, and it solves the issue of improper water output.

It has seriously changed my life, transformed the way I drink water.

I like it so much, and professed my liking so much, that my mom even gave me the one she got from my tias, which is why I have a blue and a pink sippy cup.

Honestly, this isn’t a very big life update to be called a Life Update. In fact, calling it a Life Update seems laughable in retrospect.

But I’m drinking a lot more water, which is an essential element to living life, so that counts for something. Right?

Vaccine Time

So I have officially gotten vaccinated, both doses.

After the first shot, my arm was just sore for about a day afterward. I couldn’t sleep on my favorite side, but that was the most inconvenienced I was.

After the second dose, I got some chills a few hours later. I went to bed and ended up waking up in the middle of the night with a heavy head and achy limbs. I struggled to go back to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling more or less the same way. I took a dose of children’s Tylenol (I’m a terrible pill-swallower), and my symptoms almost immediately cleared up and did not return.

Getting the vaccine has felt totally unreal. It’s been this talked-of thing for the longest time, and the rollout felt like it would take years. Never have I felt a vaccine was so important.

I mean, I’ve gotten the annual flu shot every once in a while, but this felt serious on an almost Contagion level of seriousness.

Side note: This is the perfect time to watch Contagion. Watching it back in March 2020 was a bit of a mistake for me. I was riddled with anxiety and horror for a few days after.

I feel safer after getting vaccinated, but my relief stems mostly from having my mom’s safety ensured. She got vaccinated, and I got vaccinated. My biggest fear has been passing something on to her, which is why I shut myself in most thoroughly last year.

It’s strange to live in such times, but I’m sure that is something everyone who has ever lived has thought at some point.

I’m Back and Thanks for Being Understanding!

Hello, my Above Average readers!

A few weeks ago, I took a break from posting here because of an upheaval in my life. I’m not going to elaborate on it, but what I do want to do is thank all of you for being so kind and understanding.

I’ve gotten a bunch of messages checking in on me, and I appreciate all of them. I am doing fine, and I’m glad to get back into the blogging groove once again.

Starting after this post, I’ll be back to my regular schedule. I have a bunch of things I want to write about from the past couple of weeks, and I look forward to just focusing on writing.

As always, I remain your Below Average blogger!

A Short Trip to My Sister

If I could only pick one thing that the pandemic has outrageously stolen from me, I’d say it was time with my sister. Normally, during an average year, I spend months with my sister. Our time spent together during this past year can be counted using days as a metric.

A few days ago, my mother and I planned to go visit my sister. For a single weekend. That’s a ten-hour drive there and back again.

And to make matters more difficult, work was a killer the week before we were set to go. It was a veritable hell week. I was working from 8 in the morning to 7 at night; I was glued to my laptop at practically all hours of the day. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the work.

But oofs, I was burning up.

The Friday before we were set to leave, I woke up especially early to get the final bits of my work completed before the weekend. I was running on about 5 hours of sleep.

As soon as I was done, my mother and I packed ourselves into a rental car and drove over to my sister’s.

When we got there, Alya had creamy tomato soup and bread pieces waiting for us. We ate it outside on her back patio, which is easily one of the best back patios I’ve ever had the privilege to relax in.

I also got to see Ushi again!

I have missed her so much! And not being able to see her as much during the pandemic has gutted me. She’s getting a bit up there in doggie years, and it feels like the pandemic stole my time with her too.

Plus, look at that face!

After eating soup, my sister and I sang some Beatles songs together just for the heck of it, and we stayed up past midnight talking and asking each other questions. It was easily one of the best nights of my life.

I had a bit of a troubled sleep later on though, since not only had I been drinking coffee during my convo with Alya, but the pillows in the guest room are squishier than I’m used to.

I woke up to Ushi and more coffee, which made me feel better.

That morning, my mother, my sister, her husband, and I decided to take Ushi to both PetSmart and Petco. We let her pick out toys she wanted, bought her a water bowl that she actually needed, and selected some choice bones for her monching pleasure.

We went back to Alya’s house, and we gorged on Hot Cheetos Puffs while watching Muppet Treasure Island. It’s a movie we used to watch all the time as kids, and it’s only gotten better over the years.

We ordered in Chinese food for dinner and stuffed ourselves some more. Then we went to bed.

I slept terribly once again, and before the sun was even up, my mom was brightly telling me it was time to go. (At this point, I think I’ve only slept 6 hours in total while at Alya’s house.)

And just like that we were gone.

But it was worth it.

It was an incredibly short visit, so much so that it reminded me and Alya of the long ones I used to make. It sharpened our need to hang out with each other, so we’re currently planning a lengthier trip. Alya already has the vaccine since she is a teacher, and I’m in a damn-the-consequences-I-want-to-be-with-my-sister kind of mood.

She’s the one person who knows me inside and out, and you should always want to spend time with people who get you like that.

I think I passed out for the whole day after I came back. But even with practically no sleep under my belt, I’d do it all again to be with Alya.

Can I Just Say I Have the Best Coworkers Ever?

As anybody who has worked as a freelancer can tell you, it’s not easy to make friends with people you work with.

Time spent freelancing for people feels fairly transient, so you don’t always have the opportunity to form bonds with your coworkers. It is definitely not like a traditional workspace.

For the longest time, I felt a little left out of conversations between my mother and my sister. The two of them could talk for ages about the comings and goings of their fellow teachers. Since they have similar career paths, the two of them could chat about every aspect of their work under the sun and not miss a beat.

But if I tried to reminisce about a particularly tough day at work when the internet refused to cooperate or a program was acting wonky, they’d give me oh-that-sucks murmurings, and then return to a conversation topic they were more familiar with.

However, at this point, I have been writing and editing for TheGamer and GameRant for years, and I’m so happy to say I’ve established bonds and shared experiences with the people who work alongside me there.

Honestly, this is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.

When I first started out, I was so hesitant about talking to anyone in our Slack channel (think Discord but more work-oriented), but these days, I’m joking with everybody (or trying to) on a near daily basis.

It has been an absolutely friendly work environment, and I’ve gotten to know fellow editors and writers in this workspace I would never have met otherwise.

Side note: I even have a dedicated gaming night between me and one of my coworkers. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

It’s been a lot of fun, and even though I worry about my job security (something every freelancer has worried about at some point in time), I know that the friendships I’ve made will extend beyond my time there.

Anywaysies, I’m feeling lucky and grateful to have had this job for so long, and I just wanted to gush about it today.

Life Update #9: The Arrival of Harvey

It’s been a long time (a really long time) since I wrote a Life Update post. If I’m being honest with you, I actually kind of forgot about them.

Why?

Well, a pandemic happened, and it’s like my life just stopped updating.

However, I’m here to let you know about the next chapter in a perhaps forgotten saga.

Long-time followers of the blog will recall that I made friends with a daddy long-legs that lived in my bookcase. I named him Hardcore Henry, and he ended up dying a sad death. However, he had successors, so my bookcase was never unoccupied.

This particular update is to let you know about a new acquaintance I made about a week ago.

Get yourselves ready, folks. You’re about to meet Harvey.

The boyfriend and I were sleeping in bed. It was around 6 or 7 in the morning. We were nestled in a bunch of blankets, the majority of which I was admittedly hogging. The weight of the blankets and the proximity of the boyfriend was making me almost uncomfortably warm. He did not seem to notice or care, but my raised body temperature woke me up.

I shifted around, in a state between wakefulness and sleep, possessing moderate awareness that maybe I should remove a blanket or two. As I thought this, the heater turned on, and I slid into a sharper state of being awake based purely on my growing irritation at what would be an inevitable increase in warmth thanks to the ill-timed heater.

That’s when I heard a metallic skittering far above my head, right where the air conditioning vent was on my bedroom wall. Before I could even consider that this noise might mean something was wrong with the heater, something smacked into the side of my head. I jolted awake, the innate panic of an unknown being near my face dispelling any sleepiness I had.

At first, I thought the heater had just blown out some strange gunk from the vent, and that was what had shot onto my hair. But as my fingers probed through the tangle of my bedhead, and I touched something hard and brittle, I realized that was not the case.

Especially after whatever it was moved.

In disgusted alarm, I started to swat at my hair in quick flicking motions. And that’s when the cockroach that had fallen on my head got swiped off, plopping right onto the blanket covering my boyfriend’s chest.

Side note: The boyfriend sometimes sleeps on his back. He’s really talented this way, and I’ve been a bit jealous of this ability he possesses. However, after these events, I’m not so envious. I mean, if I had been sleeping on my back during this moment, that cockroach could have landed right between my eyes. Or worse…in my mouth.

“Danny, cockroach.”

That’s all I uttered in a short, raised tone of voice. He was instantly awake, but by that time, I had already grabbed the blanket and swept it off our bodies. Our huge pile of blankets rested on the floor, and we spent a few shocked moments staring at them.

Inaction was never an option, so I retrieved a shoe for my boyfriend, he positioned himself by the blankets, and I readied my nerves for shaking out each one individually.

Of course, the cockroach was equally ready for us, and as soon as it fell from the sheets, it scuttled under my dresser more quickly than lightning strikes a rod.

During the days after this event, as I planned to write about it for my next blog post, I imagined describing to all of you what it was like living with a cockroach somewhere in your bedroom, a mysterious and rude guest you never wanted. I told myself I would name him Harvey, and I delighted myself with coming up with ambiguous endings for his story.

I even had a Hardcore Henry versus Harvey comparison post in the works.

But shortly before the boyfriend left to go back home, Harvey made one final appearance near Danny’s suitcase. Subsequently, Harvey was murdered, courtesy of my Converse and Danny’s quick reflexes.

So that’s the end of Harvey, but before I go, I just want to assure you Above Average readers that I live in a very clean house. I have no idea what Harvey thought he was doing coming into it the way he did. I also want you all to know that I will forever keep you updated on any more visitors that make their way into my life. I don’t know if that’s what my Life Updates will be from now on or not.

But given the way life is currently going, Harvey actually felt like a weird highlight.