Zero Waste Periods

If you read my last post, I started the journey of using cloth pads back in August. As I mentioned then, I was a bit skeptical. However, I was on a mission (still am) to remove as many “chemicals” from our home. As someone who has PCOS and fibroids galore, I read blog after blog about the dangers of using disposable pads. It was not only the dangers of using them but for almost three years we have tried to minimize the use of disposable items around our home. I don’t want to say we are a zero waste home because one can never be 100% zero waster.

The cloth pads were an add on to my using a menstrual cup for my periods. Sadly, I think my time with a menstrual cup for daily use while on my cycle has come to an end. I had surgery back in 2008 to reconstruct the ulna nerve in my left arm. It was severely damaged. It was during this time that I also found out I have carpal tunnel in both hands. Well…the saying “it all goes to shit after FORTY” could not be any less from the truth. 😦 My carpal tunnel has really began to make cup insertion and removal super painful. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my cup and if I truly wanted too I could probably endure the pain for the next 10 years or whenever menopause hits; but I am not sure if physically I could hold out. So for now, I have put my lovely cup aside or until a company designs one for people with arm/hand mobility issues.

This is my first full cycle of strictly just cloth pads. So far, it hasn’t been bad. The only negative is that since I would use my cup during the day I only really had a good stash of my “overnight” cloth pads and my cup back ups which are 10′ light pads. I had a few 12′ heavy but they were from the early makers I bought from and are super thick due to the core materials used so I only have used those while at home. Luckily, I did have a handful of 12′ heavy from more experienced sellers and their pads are thin. Because of the limited number of these pads, I have been having to wash every other day instead of dry storing until my cycle is over as I had been doing previously.

Now, since August I have come across other makers who have been in the business longer. They are more experienced in making them and use higher end materials.

The only seller I still use from my last post is Just Jillian Reusables. She is a great seller. She is still fairly new to the market but her work is of good quality and her prices reflect her experience. She also tends to have great prints. I am anxiously waiting an overnight in a cute rainbow with raindrops design. She also makes other items such as: seat belt covers, cloth napkins, and bibs. I have permission from another buyer to post her review of Just Jillian Reusables.

Review from a repeat buyer, Gina

“ Let me be the first to say that I absolutely love how fast and friendly Jillian is to work with! She was my very first merchant I purchased from and I continue to come back. She’s really friendly and was very patient with me when I had 100k questions about pads, their absorbency and what length I should start with. What patterns and shapes I could try.  Extremely awesome. I’ll continue to purchase from her in the future!”

I can attest to this, which is one of the reasons that even though I have a other makers I buy from for my 12′ ultra-thin heavy pads, I keep coming back to her for my 14′ overnight ones.

A few of the most recent sellers I have begun to buy from are Grayson Street Emporium, she can be found on ETSY as well. She does not do custom orders and pads can only bought during her stockings, which are every Friday night at 8 CT on her ETSY shop and Sunday’s. Her pads are so highly sought that they will sell out in less than five minutes. I have been able to score five pads from her. Two 10′ moderate that I used for cup back up and three 12′ ultra thin heavy. She has an awesome selection of prints and toppers. Super fast shipping! She usually will mail out stocking claims on Saturday and they are usually in my mailbox on Monday.

The next seller I have started to buy from is Bombshell Cloth. She is strictly just a Facebook group seller. She makes an amazingly thin pad. She calls it her “ultraTHINNY”. Her fabric prints are super cute and she has a great assortment of backers as well. She works through what some sellers refer to as a custom list. When the list is open, you place your name on the list and she will get with you for your order. At times, she will close the customs list so she can dedicate herself to her current orders. She takes great pride in her work.

The third seller I love is Yurtcraft (Facebook). If you were to have a converation with someone who is already in the cloth pads world to name a seller, 90% of the time Yurtcraft (ETSY) will be the name that pops up. She has been making and selling cloth pads since 2008. Her pads are extremely cost affordable and her materials are top of the line as well. After you become familiar with cloth pads, her pads will be ones you can spot from all the rest. I love that she has an outer stitching which I feel cups my body. Since we are both within Texas shipping is lighting speed as well. Depending on time/day she mails out packages I can get them the next day.

Last but not least, is Red Tag Vag Rags. I have only bought one pad from her because she had the print I had been searching high and low for (Rocky Horror Picture Show). I ordered a custom 14′ may have been 16′ can’t remember heavy for my overnight. The pad was BEAUTIFUL!!! She works off a similar system as Bombshell Cloth with a customs lists. She tends to have cute cartoon horror films prints, and movie themed in general. Pricing is on par with GSE and Bombshell Cloth because they are more experienced makers. Just to be clear, just because Yurtcraft prices are a bit lower than the other two does not mean they are less of quality. I believe Yurtcraft keeps her prices a bit lower because she has been making them now for ten years. It may be just something she does to keep her clientele keep coming back from more.

 

Now on to the sellers I previously had listed on my last post….

I no longer purchase from any of the other sellers on my previous post for many reasons.

Clothespin Cloth had an issue and was banned from the cloth world due to taking orders/money and not making the items. I myself was a victim. Luckily, almost five months later I got my money back. I know that there are still a few individuals who to this day never received a refund or their order.

Eco-Owl by Netta-although I believe she still is in the market, I have not seen any traffic on her Facebook since fall of last year. I know a few individuals reached out to her but never got a response back. I believe in addition to making cloth pads, she also had a full time job so sometimes I have heard when sellers have jobs outside of the home they tend to take breaks from making pads from time to time.

Gemini Creations-she is another seller that I stopped seeing work displayed or posts for ready to sell items or even having announcements she was taking orders. Her work was good as I have a few of her items so if you follow her and you see her making pads, pick one up.

Ember Rose Reusables-after months of not seeing any commentary on her facebook group, I decided to leave the group. I had so many cloth groups I was following and decided it was just best to leave those that were not showing any activity. I do know she was a full time mom so maybe mommy-hood became the number one priority (which I wouldn’t blame her, as I got to enjoy staying home with my son for the first three years).

Now on to some questions some of my readers had from my last post. 

Question 1: What is the average cost to get started with cloth pads?

This will vary from maker to maker. Just Jillian Reusables offers starter packages that vary in price between $25-$35 with pads in an assortment of sizes and absorbency.

For your more seasoned sellers the standard is right around $1 an inch. Again, this is the average. GSE, Bombshell Cloth, and RTVR run a little on the higher end side. I pay roughly $19 and some change for a 12′ heavy from GSE. My  12′ from Bombshell Cloth ran me around $18 and my 14′(may be a 16′) from RTVR ran me about $17. All these prices included the shipping and handling.

Yurtcraft despite being the more seasoned of them all, a 12′ heavy will run me about $16 with shipping and tax.

As you can see, it may be a bit steep in the beginning getting your stash built so what I did was buy a few from some newer makers who charged less because their stitching may not be perfect. I also recommend, trying from a few different sellers. Maybe buy one or two from one seller and another one or two from another. All too often women will buy a handful from one seller and then when they arrive find that the size or shape of the pad that seller offers may not always work. I had that experience myself. I bought two pads at roughly $18 for both and now they just sit in my drawer because the shape did not work for my body. (quick side note—there is a facebook site where people will destash their pads that didn’t work for them.)

Question 2: Is there anything I need to know before I place my first order?

I recommend you measure your current disposable brand to get an idea of the length you will need. I also recommend you look at your flow. Are you a gusher? A front bleeder? Back bleeder? Do you bleed in the center? All these are good to know so you can relay that to the maker. She can then guide you on shapes that are known to work for those issues.

Question 3: Any special “equipment” I will need? 

When I first started, I was low on funds due to buying a handful at one time. Because of this I just used a few sandwich bags to hold my pads in for a few months in the begining. If you can afford it at that time, a wetbag is needed. Many sellers make these as well if not you can find them on amazon for relatively inexpensive. I bought mine off Amazon back in December and am still using it. It was a pack of 2 for $9 with Prime. It looks like the price went up a few cents. One hangs from the restroom door and the other I pack in my purse. I will admit it is a big large for my purse so as soon as funds become available, I will be ordering a smaller one. The wetbags have two pockets, one to house the clean pads and the other pocket is usually lined with PUL which is to house the soiled pads. Many sellers also sell pouches. These are pretty identical to the little pouches disposables come in. They run about $3 for each one. I find it was more cost effective to just use a wetbag.

Cleaning supplies will consist of a good detergent. Homemade detergents will NOT work. In general they do not work period (take it from someone who went a few years making her own). Tide is a highly recommended detergent as is Persil. You will also need some type of stain stick/remover. I use OxiClean powder but have heard that the Orange Oxi Dollar Tree version is just as effective as the OxiClean brand. My stain stick is a bar of Fels Napta. It hasn’t failed me yet. Many in the cloth world swear by eCover stain stick but it was a bit pricey at about $8 a stick and it literally lasted me one cycle.

Question 4: How do you wash them?

I am lazy with my pads!! I use a dry store method because if I would have kept with the method I was originally told, I would have given up and stopped using cloth. No one wants to be rinsing each pad after use. Well…I know I didn’t.

The dry store method for me is removing my soiled pads and putting them straight into the wetbag. I do not do any pre-treat for stains. Prior to this month, I would store them all into my cycle ended. My cycle lasts anywhere from 7-10 days. I dump all my pads in my washer with Tide detergent and run a quick wash. Then, I remove any pads that remain with stains (usually will have one) and run my stain stick bar over the stain and back into the wash it goes. This cycle I add a scoop of Oxiclean and during the cycle I will pause the machine to let the pads soak for about an hour, sometimes I can go longer than that if I start to do other chores or we leave the house to run errands (longer won’t hurt). Then finish running the cycle. I will do one last rinse (in hot water-to disinfect) and spin to remove any residual soap or Oxi and hang dry. To this day, I have yet to have one permanently stain. As mentioned above, due to the limited number of pads I have in 12′ I am washing them every other day until I can add to my stash of 12′ pads.

 

I hope you take the plunge and try going a Zero Waste Period lifestyle…Once you switch you will not go back to having those horrible chemicals near your body.

#clothisthenewnorm #menstrualcupsforthewin #clothpadsareawesome #zerowaste

 

BeFunky Collage

Here’s my RHPS beauty from Red Tag Vag Rags

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©Valerie

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All things R.U.M.P.s

A few years ago, I came across a Facebook group about reusable menstrual products. At that time I had already been a menstrual cup user for almost eight years. I was first exposed to menstrual cups in the early 90’s when I moved to Europe. I used one for a while but since it was something I was not familiar with, it became hard for me to fall in love with it. So tampons and pads it was again.

Fast forward to early 2007 and I was ecstatic when I entered my local Sprouts store and saw they carried a menstrual cup. Although, the upfront cost of this cup was outrageous and way out of my budget I was happy to see a European concept here in the States. Even more so here in my town that is super conservative with a large Hispanic demographic that already stresses to the young Hispanic girls that tampons are “sin.” I drove home like a child who had just gotten a new toy. I was anxious for my cycle to arrive that month.

The upfront cost of the cup washes out the monthly cost of disposables. Most menstrual cups if taken care of properly will last up to ten years. Yes, you read that right. Ten Years!! A menstrual cup can cost you roughly between $20-$40 USD. This is a one time upfront cost. Now calculate your savings. For me personally, I was spending anywhere between $10-$15 USD a month for tampons and pads. Take that times the number of months in a year, equals $120-$180. That equates to $1200 for ten years. That is a savings of a minimum of $1000.

My cup would have lasted the ten years if it had not been for me falling asleep while I was sterilizing it and it ended up boiling to death.

The previous cup that was boiled to death wasn’t really suitable for my body but it was the only one that was on the market ten years ago. So when I was on the hunt to purchase a new cup, I saw there were lots of different menstrual cup companies now. I was happy for that because they each had designed their cups for the different bodies out there. Some are made for women with low cervix, some for women with high cervix, and most have a selection of capacity size for regular cycles and for heavy cycles.

My next cup was a brand new up and up-coming USA based company. I purchased this cup through Amazon at an unbelievable low price and with Prime 2 day shipping, it was a deal I could not pass up. This new cup arrived right on time. I was day two of my cycle and I was in love. This cup was much gentler inside of my body, but again it was not my goldilocks cup. Due to its capacity, I was emptying it every 2 hours. I needed a cup with a capacity to get me at minimum 3-4 hours since I knew that my cycle would never allow me the opportunity to go the full 12 hours that some women may have.

Last month, I took the plunge and purchased another cup. I purchased the Lena Cup. Still a great cup but due to firmness and the “bell” shape it did not work for me.

I scored an Organicup through the Danish company give-away and WOW it was perfect. The fit was an identical match to my body. However, the capacity of the cup since the size A was sent to me it can’t keep up with the level of my cycle fluid capacity. I was told by some women in a Facebook group to try the Finnish brand Lunette. The firmness is very similar to the Organicup but the capacity of their size B of 30 ml beats the 20 ml of the Organicup. Some women may think a 10 ml difference does not make a difference but for me it does. The Lunette is my goldilocks cup the first several days of my cycle and the Organicup is my goldilocks cup the last few days of my cycle. I did have a few women ask why not just order the Organicup size B which is as well a 30 ml capacity cup. For me, I am sure my body would welcome it with open arms but I am one who loves to share the love per se.

Now, onto part two of reusable menstrual products, cloth pads.

Even though, I was a cup user I would rest my body of having something internal and wore pads at night. When I came across that Facebook page and saw women talking about cloth pads, I sort of thought to myself no way. I already wash laundry too often and I am not about to take on more washing.

But when I was diagnosed with PCOS and was found to have over 30 fibroids living rent free in my uterus, I knew it was time to stop using conventional disposable pads. I did research and found many of these pads are slathered with chemicals. They all have special chemicals to wick away the liquid and women have this up against an open body organ. By this time, I had already started to remove chemicals from our home. We stopped using hair and body products that contained SLS, Parabens, and Phthalates. We stopped using conventional deodorant and had switched out our dental products to oils and clays. So why not, stop using disposable pads.

Enter the world of cloth pads. Now, being a few cycles in using cloth pads, I think to myself as to why I waited so long. Yes, it takes a bit of “care” in the sense of extra laundry but I am happy with it. I am happy at the continued savings cost and extremely happy that I no longer have harmful chemicals near “her”.

If you want to enter the world of cloth pads, try reaching out to my Top 5 sellers! Let them know I referred you. I don’t get anything in return, I just want them to continue to know that I love their products.

*not in any order*

Just Jillian’s Resuables

Clothespin Cloth

Eco-Owl by Netta 

Gemini Creations

Ember Rose Reusables

 

©Valerie 

 

Are teens nowadays lazy?

One day as I was perusing my timeline on a certain social media site, I stumbled across a post stating the teens of today were lazy compared to those from 20-25 years ago. The blog was geared towards a study that showed that the number of teens working had dropped almost 20% since the mid 90’s.

As a parent to a fifteen year old who has actively been searching for a part time seasonal job since the day after he turned fourteen, I found the survey on point. However, I don’t feel it is contributed to today’s teens being lazy but in the tiring mazes the teens have to go through to find employment.

See for my son, the local amusement park would have hired him at fourteen to strictly take guest pictures upon the guests entering the facilities. In addition to only this position being offered he would have only been able to work Monday through Thursday (summer time only) and no more than 10 hours a week. For us, it could have been doable seeing as we only live about 8 miles from the park. However, how beneficial would this have been for other fourteen year olds? Those teens whose parents live below the poverty line and who live further into the city the cost of gas would have exceeded what the paycheck would have been for.

Fast forward a year, my son is now fifteen. Yet again, he was out putting applications the day after his birthday. Everywhere we went were told the age of hire was sixteen. We found one local pizza parlor who was willing to hire him but my son had to have a letter from his school counselor showing he was a full time student. The letter itself was not one that would have been able to be produced as school personnel were off for the summer.

Which brought to make my personal assumption, teens of today are NOT lazy. In our state (not sure if it is city specific) even sixteen years old must produce a school counselor’s letter showing full time enrollment. Then they are limited to only being able to work 10-15 hours a week during the school year. There are some additional waivers that must be given so the teen can work a few more hours during holiday breaks and such but overall, the hardship is just a bit too much for what a paycheck would bring in.

I was a teen in the early 90’s and we weren’t bounded by so many restrictions. We were able to work during the school week sometimes I would not get done until close to midnight. We did not need letters from school counselors and we were all working at fifteen. There lies the difference from then and today.

Take all these restrictions coupled in with the fact that many adults are now taking jobs that were once “teen” jobs it is becoming more and more difficult for teens to find employment.

 

Thoughts???

Is it hard for teens in your neck of the woods to find employment in the once traditional “teen” jobs?

©Valerie

 

 

Breaking the Chains

Last night, I took a quiet stroll through the park where we had our first meet. You wanted somewhere open, somewhere where we could enjoy the weather and get to know one and another. We only had an hour yet, that hour turned into two.

We spoke about our families, education, future dreams, and so much more. I can still hear you whisper you wanted to conquer the world. I never realized that by “conquering” the world you wanted total domination over the woman you were sitting in front of.

Fifty million voices made a permanent residence in my head. I never could distinguish which one to listen too. Do I leave? Do I stay? Do I give it one more day?

That moment when every single voice in my head said it was now or never …I broke free.

As I sat in that exact spot we sat at that night, a reawakening surged through me.

-I was no longer weak

-I was no longer bruised

-I was no longer broken

-I was engulfed with a tremendous magnitude of strength

I was free

-to enjoy any flavor of ice cream

-to wear my hair down

-to live life

-to love life

 

-to be me…

©Valerie 

Coddling or just being a Parent?

The picture below has been circulating Facebook as well as many News stations, and it got me thinking, where do we draw the line?

I am a mom of two. My daughter is twenty-one and my son is fourteen. I have parent them each the same with one or two mild differences. However, for the most part they have had me as Mom all the same.

They both had me bathe them, feed them, and help change them when they were younger. They both had me wash, fold, and put away their laundry. They both had me pick up after them.

As both got older, each in their own turn started to help around the home. My daughter started to put the laundry away. She started to pick up after herself. She started to help put dishes away. She also eased into cooking.

My son now at fourteen, helps around the house as well. Although, I still wash his laundry he helps fold and put his clothes away. He also has started to help in the kitchen. He puts dishes away, helps put the groceries up, and has started to ease into some easy cooking. He makes himself the occasional grilled cheese, eggs for breakfast, and putting a pizza in the oven.

Is this Coddling or just being a Parent??

In my honest personal opinion, I believe this is just being a parent.

I don’t think that dropping your child’s forgotten lunch at school is coddling. I don’t believe this will help them learn problem solving. I ,for one will not allow my child to go hungry, no matter the reasoning behind his lunch being forgotten.

Now in terms of his school work and/or books, yes, those items can wait until the next day.

What are your opinions? Where do you as a parent stand on this?

©Valerie 

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It can happen to any parent

Two days ago, a child’s death due to being left in the car occurred in my hometown. The child who was identified as a six month old little boy was found almost eight hours into the day. The father had accidentally left him in the car while he worked.

The Facebook perfect parent comments were one after another. Everyone was out to prosecute this father, yet, none offered any compassion. I can not even imagine the hell this father has been living since that day.

I am here to say… it can happen to any parent. 

The father at hand was not the usual morning caretaker of the child. He had never driven and dropped his son off at daycare. According to the mother of the child, the child was asleep in his car seat in the back seat when he drove off that morning.

I will be the first to admit, I had my share of forgetful moments as a parent, hell I still do. My children were exactly seven years apart, so when my second child came along I was already at the parenting stage where I could just get up and go. In the early months of my young one’s life at home, there way plenty of moments where I would forget the diaper bag at home, or forget to even place diapers in the diaper bag, I even at times forgot to add extra items of clothing in case of an accident. You would have thought this was my first go about at being a parent.

When my sister had her first child four years ago, I was blessed with taking care of her for the first few months after my sister returned to work. By now, my youngest was ten years old and I had re-acclimated to the get up and go routine. It was a bit challenging, I was also by this time used to enjoying my sleep. I loved watching my niece. She sort of helped me get over the baby fever void I had been feeling at that time. She became a part of my “little” family. My son was in heaven with having a younger sibling. He was the only offspring between his father and myself and although I had my older child (she was now 17), he was raised for the most as an only child.

We watched her every chance we could. Then it happened…my mind was so preoccupied with life stresses, I had forgotten her. Now, let me reiterate that although yes I did forget all about her, she was not in the back seat of a hot car. We had realized when we got to the driveway as we were about to open our car doors that she was still strapped in her car seat inside on the sofa. Thank goodness she was inside a cool home and she was safely in our possession all less than a minute and a half.

I say it again, it can happen to any parent.

About six months ago, I was driving my son to school. Mind you, he was now a teenager sitting in the front passenger seat. He was my daily routine. I literally drove passed his school and forgot to drop him off. And yes, although I realized it about a mile and half later if he would not have realized and said something I would have kept on driving to work. So, I say again, it can happen to any parent.

There is not one perfect parent. We all have some faults and degrees of faults. Instead of judging and crucifying parents, we should learn to show compassion. While I am sure some of these parents intentionally leave their children, I am almost certain a higher percentage of them are truly accidental. Let us show compassion, because they are now having to live with the guilt of an accident for the rest of their lives.

 

 

©Valerie 

Shadow{s}

Shadow{s} are all around us…

The shadows of the attack of birds as seen on your grandmother’s sidewalk

The shadows of your excessively giant friends on the school courtyard

The shadows of the white picket fences against the newly paved street

The shadow of the rabbit ears in your fourth grade class…

courtesy of your grade school crush

The shadow of your grandfather’s cement work boots against the house 

The shadow of Sutro Tower against the San Francisco fog

 

Your shadow as seen from my driver’s side mirror… 

as you walked away from our future together

The one shadow I to this day wish I never would have seen

©Valerie 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucket List—San Francisco

Last month, I surprised my kids with a road trip to California. It was the first time my son and I had been to the “west coast.” My daughter had been to LA before but never to San Francisco. So in mid June we packed up our Toyota Yaris {Jasper} and drove out west. It was quite a drive! It took us a little over seven hours to make it to the Texas-New Mexico border. For every desolate unsightly mile driven, we encountered miles of bewitching scenery.  The west Texas mountains seen as we drove through Van Horn, Texas. Those captivating mountains trailed along side us from West Texas right into California.

I actually saw my first tumbleweed! My naivety only thought they existed in western films. #kidding #notkidding #newmexico

New Mexico was beautiful. As we drove through “The City of the Crosses” we saw the Potrillo Mountains. It was unusually hard to realize the grand depth of them. They extend from the continental US to the Chihuahua state of Mexico. As statuesque as those mountains were, the remainder of the short drive through New Mexico was slightly dull.

Arizona was not much different. The occasional stretch of mountains, the dry air, and the humid heat was not as picturesque as I had hoped for. The most awesome thing about Arizona was they had an IKEA!!! #ikearocks #ikea4life

Our drive into California caught us (my son and I) off guard. We envisioned a predominately “coastal” state, we did not realize that mountains made their home in the southeastern part of the state. As Jasper cruised Interstate 10 through Indio, California we landed in Palm Springs. I can finally say I made it to Coachella. #oneday #fornowiwilldrivethrough

Back to Palm Springs…Maybe it was all those movies I watched growing up, but I always pictured Palm Springs to be glutted with Palm trees, beaches, and lots of sand. I. was. wrong. The city was home to copious amounts of energy windmills, mountains, and yes, palm trees.

While en-route to San Francisco we detoured for a few hours into Los Angeles. We drove through Chinatown, Echo Park, Miracle Mile, and Hollywood. We spent an hour walking the strip and stopped to see the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Dolby Theater, and of course lots and lots of Hollywood Stars.

I will admit I was a bit emotional while walking along with the kids because as a mom I have always wanted to share moments like this with them.

After about two hours, we made our way to the grand finale…San Francisco. We encountered a minor hiccup upon our arrival. Seeing as we drove in via the Oakland Bridge nowhere in my research did I find that there was a #toll to enter the city. We had our first trip #fail because I never ever carry cash. Luckily, thanks to the kindness and generosity of an elder couple in their Blue early model Nissan Altima who covered our $5 toll, we drove across the Bay.

Memories were being created this summer and the priceless look on my children’s faces as they saw the Golden Gate Bridge impregnated my heart. We. fell. in. love. We walked around Chinatown and even ate lunch there. It was awesome timing because we were in town for the Haight Street Festival. It was fun and we had a blast. We became #publictransitexperts.

Plans for a return trip are in the works…

 

**Big shout-out to the staff at The Mission Inn. It was a great Motor Lodge on the outskirts of The Mission District. It was a great place for the value. The room was spacious and clean and was turned over daily. Public transportation is a block away #14 line and is a quick 20-25 minute ride to downtown.**

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©Valerie

 

The Passing of Hearts–Chapter One

“Never say never” was a phrase that throughout the last two years entered my self-consciousness at the most oddest and random moments. That drive out to the lake now seems like a diminishing memory but it is one that I do not wish to let go of.

I met him in passing on a Monday afternoon while on my lunch break. We struck up conversation while we waited the arrival of our lunch orders. He complimented me on my smile, and I on his. “So, do you have a favorite dish to this place?” he asked. “I do, I really enjoy the Lamb Chop salad with goat cheese.” “In that case, maybe I should change my order because a girl like you seems like she knows what she likes.” I can honestly say I had never engaged in such playful banter with someone as much as I had that afternoon. There was something that kept me interested, there was something captivating and explosive about him. “What other items on the menu do you indulge in from time to time?” “Is it safe to assume that you like to dance?” he stated softly as he came closer to me. My body began to quiver and my palms welcomed this sudoric feeling, a feeling I had not felt in such a long time. “Everything from this Deli is palatable, it is a great place to try different cheeses.” “Did I hear correctly, did you state different cheeses?” in a facetious yet inquisitive demeanor. “Yes, the owners are really good friends of mine from my time living in Luxembourg City and they love experimenting with mixtures of texture, taste and color. I recommend the University of Michigan muenster cheese, it is a bleu cheese blend hence the name University of Michigan.” A disarray gaze appeared but his alluring smile made his gaze seem so worthwhile. Our conversation about the many types of cheeses that could be found there lasted for almost twenty minutes, twenty minutes which in translation seemed like a lifetime. He showed great interest in our conversation which was in itself a quality I was not accustomed to.

“Well, I really have enjoyed my afternoon giving you a one on one on world cheese, but I must retreat back to my office.” I told him. “Say, would it not be nice if we met here say on Thursday around Noon?” he politely asked. “I do not think that would be a great idea, seeing as I just recently ended a very turbulent relationship and speaking candidly I am just not ready to enter the dating scene.” I responded. “It does not have to be a date; everyone has to eat. See you Thursday”he said. I chuckled as I grabbed my takeout bag and walked around him to exit the Deli. It was a thirteen block walk back to the office and the entire time all I could think about was his smile. I was drawn to it. Honestly, I wanted so much more of it. I called my best friend, Catalena and exhausted the last breath I had within me telling her all about him. She laughed and said in her customary exclamatory voice she has “Girl, you have been bit.” I knew what Catalena had meant but I was not going to subject myself to what was her truth. I needed more time, I needed to be alone. I needed solitude. I needed to seek out what Christopher McCandless wanted as told in the story by Jon Krakauer in Into the Wild.

©Valerie