Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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I was in Wisconsin for 24 hours on Sunday into Monday-- Racine, to be exact.  My hotel was right on the bank of Lake Michigan, which is surprisingly blue... like Caribbean blue. 

Racine is like Wilmington in that it was probably a sad, falling-down place for decades until someone decided to throw a ton of money at it, and now it has a super-cute main drag, similar in vibe to Market Street in Wilmington, or maybe more specifically the Riverfront. Lots of shops, eateries, businesses, parking, people walking around, all that. And it's CUTE. 

Even th Milwaukee airport is adorable, mostly because of the people in it. Everyone is soooo friendly, inclusive, soft-spoken, quick to smile and say hello. Where the Philly airport (and every other airport) is LOUD with announcements, machinery, moving walkways, beeping carts, cops on Segways, yelling kids, and families whose default vocal conversation volume is SCREAMING, it's easy to get numb to the noise.  But Milwaukee is quiet. 


Always Get a Shoe Shine

I forget where I read it, but someone said in their list of life tips to "Always get a shoe shine by the old guy in the airport."

I may have only gotten two or three shoe shines in my life, and they were awesome, and my shoes appreciated it.   Two weeks ago I wanted to wear my ancient Doc Martens to work and Matt offered to shine them up, and I took him up on it. They look great! What a difference!  I bought those 10-eye black Doc boots from Buffalo Exchange (used!) in 1996 or so... so they're at least 21 years old. (My boots can drink!) After Matt got done shining them up, they look like new damn boots! I can't believe it!  I really need new soles though-- they are worn flat to the point where they are slippery and absolutely unwearable in the wintertime. 

ANYWAY, this post is not about my Doc Martens though, but instead about me getting a shoe shine in the Milwaukee airport right after I landed, shining a totally different pair of boots. My flight landed around 1pm, and it was gonna be about a 30 minute drive to Racine and I figured there was a good chance my hotel room wouldn't be ready for me by the time I showed up at 1:30, so I tried to take my time. As I wandered through the almost empty airport, I saw a shoeshine guy on the out-side of security... which seemed strange, but OK.  The shoeshine guy had a TV in his booth and he was watching the game, and I felt bad for interrupting him, but he invited me in.  As soon as he invited me in, I could tell something was slightly off... but I didn't care. He cheerfully and eagerly invited me in, and I was gonna stay. 

The old guy, probably in his 60s, looked much older. He was very shaky, couldn't speak clearly... but he managed to say that he had just had a stroke and was just coming back to work. In a moment, his son appeared and took over the reins, somewhat embarrassed for his dad. Once I assured the son that I was comfy with Dad and was happy to be there, the three of us had a great time. We talked about the stroke a little bit, and how Dad couldn't bear to stay cooped up in the nursing home with "people with no purpose no more."  He was a shoe-shiner, and he took his craft seriously... it was his life's work. Even though he couldn't wield the tools as adeptly anymore, his son helped out when he needed to, and they managed to give me a great freakin' shoe-shine in 30 minutes... and a great chat. We talked about traveling, weather, the 24-hours news cycle and how it's killing the country, and food that is unique to this side of Wisconsin. 

After 30 minutes of intensive work, they charged me $12 for the shoe-shine, and I gave them $40. 

My boots look damn fiiiiine, and my heart feels good, too. 


Swingin'...

In other news entirely, my favorite lunch spot in Philly is 30th Street Station, outside on the swings.  I get a cup of coffee and a bagel and/or a sammich/salad from one of the many shoppes inside, and plop my arse on a swing and all is right with the world.

They have two different types of swings-- one where your feet can touch the ground, and ones that are more like giant recliners where your legs are totally off the ground. So today there were people sitting on the big recliner swings, but their swing had stopped swinging... and since their feet can't touch the ground, they have no way to swing again. So as I walked by them, I gave them each a push and they both smiled and laughed. It made my day. :-)

Shut up and post this, Jill

Anyway, I think I'm just gonna post this, otherwise I'll just drag it out, adding letters but saying nothing. So... post!

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11/2 '17 4 Comments
Shoe shining/repair is something of a rare art these days. If you have a good shoe repair shop around you, it is always an awesome thing to have soles replaced. Between that and a shine, it's like insta-new-shoe! Poof! Plus, then your footwear lasts foreeeeeever. I have a pair of boots over 30 years old and a pair of dress heels over 25. My shoes aren't *quite* old enough to be your Doc's mom, but I bet they babysat 'em on Friday nights.
Anne Mollo 11/2 '17
There are two "shoe guys" in town, and one is in the mall of all places, and they are craaaaazy-busy. I've brought boots to them that had broken zippers and stuff, and they replaced 'em as good as new. But I've never had soles replaced.

Doc Martens have such specific soles, and I don't know if they have Doc Marten soles. But then again, I'm not sure how mega-important genuine Doc Martens soles are. As long as they look and feel right, I suppose that's what's important. Besides, I've been walking around on worn-down soles for so long, so I don't know if if I'd know the difference. Maybe I'll bring them over.
Okay, yes, I might be a bit biased, but I swear to Christ, Lucifer, and everyone in between that I would read the shit out of a book of collected blog posts by you chica. Just something about the way I feel the life moments in your posts. It's really fine stuff.

And now I'm having a mental image of you, talking about you, and saying "She just... Gets It. You know? She's our people."
Awwwww, thanks! I love writing. I know my writing needs a lot of work, but it's good for my soul. It makes me really happy that you like reading my brain pickinz. ;)
 

Hi all!

We've been up at my folks' place since Sunday. We were eating dinner and I got a text from my dad that he had to call an ambulance to bring him to the hospital because he blew out his knee and couldn't put even a toe's worth of weight on his right leg.  I called him and he was TERRIFIED, and absolutely convinced this was "the fall," meaning the injury an old person has in their late 70s that begins the rapid decline to death.  I kept trying to tell him not to order the headstone quite yet, but he was really, really upset. By the time he got out of the ER and back home it was 11:30PM, so we all agreed Matt and I would get up to NJ on Monday (the 13th).

So, apart from snowcamming (which is now over), I have been almost entirely offline since we've been up here. I haven't read OPW or LJ; I've done maybe 10 mins max on Instagram and Twitter.  I'm sorry I haven't been more responsive.

So yep, we're still up at my folks' place taking care of them since my dad blew his knee out on Sunday.  Strangely, Mom seems to be doing MUCH better. I'm thinking with my Dad down for the count, Mom realizes she needs to step it up a bit, and she has! She isn't nearly as forgetful.  Maybe the extra responsibility is good for her.

Since we've been here, we let my folks handle their own breakfast as a test to see how their mobility is for the day... but then we wind up handling lunch and dinner plus all chores (laundry, cleaning Mom's bedroom commode, cleaning/prepping her CPAP, meal prep and serving/cleanup, shopping, snow removal, med checks, laundry, washing the kitchen floor, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, etc.)

Yesterday (Thursday) I took my dad to the orthopedist to figure out what's broken on him and what the prognosis/path forward is.  Diagnosis: Torn meniscus, but luckily it's not an entirely fucked meniscus. It should heal with some PT and TLC in a few weeks... he's already markedly better yesterday than he was on Monday when we arrived, but he absolutely still needs a walker, which means he can't carry anything.  My mom can't carry anything either... so the small "care-related tasks" like dumping and cleaning my mom's bedside commode is impossible for either of them to do... let alone carrying food to the table. So as much as we want to get home and get our lives back, we need some kind of plan to have these small tasks handled. I cannot rely on my brother or sister-in-law, which is sometimes frustrating but understandable. My parents' neighbors have offered to help out, but cleaning a chunky pee-filled commode isn't something you ask a neighbor to do... that's a family job. (Sorry for that visual.)

Matt has been so good anxiety-wise lately... the CBD + Xanax combo has been working miracles. However, yesterday was a Very Bad Day and a reminder that he is not "cured," and a reminder he mustn't get cocky and not take his meds.  Caring for my mom, caring for my dad, and caring for plus worrying about Matt yesterday made me wonder how people with kids care for several people every day of their lives with no break whatsoever. I was wiped out. 

My parents have been very kind and appreciative this visit, and they keep telling me how truly grateful they are that we're up here and able/willing to help.  I'm very happy to have been up here, too.  In the evenings once we're done with dinner and all of our tasks are done, my dad and I (and sometimes Matt)  wind down by binge-watching Nurse Jackie.  I've been enjoying it. When I asked him why he chose that show as opposed to the other million things on Netflix, cable, Amazon, etc., he said, "I like Edie Falco, and I wanted to watch something without explosions for a change."  My dad? Watching something without fast cars or explosions? WEIRD. :-D

Selfishly, I'm also happy to have ridden out the storm up here with my folks because Delaware got a ton of ice and apparently Arden and north Wilmington lost power for a good long while... parts of which didn't get power back until yesterday (Thursday) with crews from North Carolina helping out the local power company workers. I know our house lost power at some point (even if just for a moment) because I tried remoting into my home computer yesterday and couldn't, which tells me it turned off unceremoniously. (My computer stays off if the power gets cut.)  So I have no way to know if we'll come home to a freezer full of warm, stinky food or what. (Though Joe Trainor just stopped by our house a few minutes ago to return a soprano sax we rented for the sold-out Billy Joel show we did on Saturday night down at the beach, and he was able to use the garage door OK, so the power's onbviously on now.)

Today is Friday, and I'm not sure when we're going back to DE. We really wanted to go to a concert on Saturday (tomorrow) night, and Matt has a final rehearsal on Sunday afternoon for an Able Arts skit they've asked him to be a part of for their show next week.  We may just go home for the weekend and come right back up here.

It's actually been pretty OK being up here. I feel very appreciated and useful. 

Anyway, I promise to be more present online when I can. I'm sorry that I can't be a better or more responsive friend now... right now I need to keep focusing on being a good daughter and a good partner. 

Love you all.

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3/17 '17 3 Comments
Don't worry about being a responsive friend right now. Charge your emotional batteries.
Holy smokes gurrrl. If you want to feel bad about something... No, I can't even kid about it. Just don't.
Thomas Boutell 3/17 '17
Like they said - don't worry about being online / responsive / whatever. If anyone asks you to be otherwise, feel free to have them discuss it with me. I'll explain it (more or less) nicely. *smirk*

On to the folks:
1. It's not 'the fall'. I'm with you on that one. You're Dad is WAY too much of a badass for that. Uncomfortable? Sure. Annoying? I bet.
2. Feeling useful - I'm happy to hear this. Family emergencies can be... draining. Feeling appreciated for what your doing can go a long way towards countering that.
3. Mom: It doesn't shock me that 'needing to step up' is helping her in some way. If it's not her that needs looking after, she's always been first up to bat.
4. Staying for a while in NJ? I'm coming back during the first week of April. I would like to humbly ask that you consider having me come lend a hand if you're still in NJ at that point. Like I said before - this stuff takes a toll. I would like to help cover that if I can. Before you dismiss this (I can just imagine you reading this) - please - seriously think about it. I'm HAPPY to help, and your folks have always been nothing shy of awesome to me. They've MORE than earned it. :)

Sending lerv. Lots of it.