And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

The thyroid cancer saga continues. I had my biopsy yesterday – Wednesday. And now I’m waiting for the result. I was hoping my moment would be announcing that everything is benign, but I haven’t gotten the results yet and likely won’t until tomorrow. So maybe that will be my moment of happiness next week. Let’s hope so.

But I did still have a moment of happiness. Several, in fact. But the one I’m choosing happened while taking my daughter shopping for her dorm supplies. Olivia leaves for college on Wednesday. I suppose “leave” is a subjective word. Her college is 20 minutes away. But she is still staying in the dorm and will still be away from home and for the first time, I won’t know where she is and what she’s doing. That feels very strange to me, and while she might not admit it, I think it feels strange for her too.

So it was a nice day. We took Semi, the Chrysler 200 convertible. Olivia’s boyfriend Patrick came along for the ride. Semi is the kind of convertible whose roof folds up into the trunk when I’m driving topless. I didn’t really think about that. I mean, we were just getting a few things for the dorm room. Right?


We hit Goodwill and Target. I thought we would be running to Bed, Bath & Beyond too, but there was no need. At Goodwill, while I was pondering food storage containers and a plastic shower supplies organizer, Olivia, 18-year old Olivia, college freshman Olivia, about-to-be-independent Olivia, barreled down the aisle to me. She carried a blow-up bright green alien, who, somewhere along the way in his life, had grown a fuzzy black mustache. “Mom!” she cried. “Mom! I need him for my room!”

Of course she did. She also needed a bright pink flamingo piñata that was devoid of candy.

My oldest daughter Katie, now a fully graduated PhD in math, teaching at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette, reminded me that when she went to college at UW – Madison, I presented her with a table lamp that looked like a pudgy naked man (think Pillsbury Dough Boy), and whose on/off switch was a…well, let’s say it was how we knew he was male.

So all right. A blow-up alien with a mustache and a pink flamingo piñata it is.

At Target, I ended up needing two carts. There were under-the-bed storage containers, bed risers so the under-the-bed storage containers would FIT under the bed, a hamper on wheels, a three-drawer organizer, a carpet, sheets, towels, bathrobe…and then came the actual school supplies, like notebooks and folders. When we got back to Semi, I very quickly saw the error of my ways. The teeny tiny slit of a trunk was full. The back seat was full. The alien and the flamingo were shotgun. And there was no room for the college student or her boyfriend.

“Well,” I said, “why don’t you two go to McDonald’s and I’ll drive home and unload, then come back and get you?”

Made them happy. Off they went.

Before I drove away, I contemplated the alien. He was a blow-up. I drove a topless car. The 3-drawer storage container in the back seat was too tall for me to put the top up. I had to anchor the alien. So on went the seatbelt. Then, for extra safekeeping, I held his little green hand.

At each stoplight, I noticed some looks. Most people laughed. I waved. My car was piled high with obviously college-type stuff and I think they understood what was going on.

Then I got to the stoplight at St. Paul and Moreland. A car pulled into the lane next to me. A nice car. A slick Porsche. A man with slick hair and slick sunglasses behind the wheel. He looked over at me and there was just no expression there. Flat-faced. No smile, no smirk, no nothing.

So I raised my hand that held a little mustached green alien’s. I smiled at Mr. Porsche and said, “He proposed this afternoon. I think I’m going to say yes.”


But I howled. And then the light changed.

I’m sorry I didn’t make Mr. Porsche’s day. But I sure made mine. I laughed all the way home. I might not even allow Olivia to bring the blow-up alien with a mustache to school, because, well, we’re engaged now.

No, of course I’ll let her take him.

And yes, that helped. Despite. Anyway.

The blow-up green alien with a mustache and the pink flamingo pinata devoid of candy. Riding shotgun.
Olivia at the base of Mount Mary’s bell tower. See her?

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