That’s how many hours Zack, Arlo and I have spent in the car in the last seven nine days (okay, yes, this post has been sitting in my draft folder awhile). My ass hurts, for reals. I’m pretty sure that my hands haven’t totally unclenched from their steering-wheel-grip pose. The black interior of our new car is covered in patches of white dog hair where the sheet bunched up and exposed the back seat, or where Arlo laid his head on the front seats over our shoulders, silently pleading with us to JUST MAKE IT END ALREADY. He’s a great traveler, but one can only ask a dog with boundless energy to lie still for so long.

*Now prepare yourself, for grossness lies in the next paragraph*

Also, our dog has this little…problem. Where his anal gland makes these…secretions. That smell like someone mixed skunk with battery acid and copper and a giant, wet fart. It happens mostly when he needs to poop particularly badly, but it seems to get worse when we are traveling and TRAPPED IN THE CAR FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME WITH HIM. I think that’s all we need to say about that.

The weekend before last we made an impromptu trip to Pennsylvania to visit my grandmother who was in the hospital. She’s had health issues off and on all summer and because of a water retention problem (added to the list as long as my arm of other issues) her condition is prone to rapid changes. She caught pneumonia overnight and they discovered her white blood cell count was low. Though it wasn’t dire, I hadn’t seen her in more than a year (rockstar granddaughter, I know) so I decided the time had come to make my grand reappearance in Chambersburg. I’m glad to report that she’s doing much better, has been released from the hospital and is enjoying her new pad in an Assisted Living apartment.

I’ve had serious guilt about the whole Assisted Living business, but while I was there my grandma said the facility was going to be “like living in The Ritz” and talked about how much she liked the food and was looking forward to meeting the people there. From what I can tell, the place does seem pretty cool. Also, SHE WAS ASKED OUT ON A DATE! My 86-year-old, widowed-since-she-was-48-and-never-dated-or-even-learned-to-drive grandmother! Her response? “Oh, I don’t do that anymore,” but in a huffy voice, as if dude shoulda known better (GAWD!). I about fell off my chair when she told me that story, her face serious but her eyes all lit up. My dad, her son, just laughed and laughed.

Two days after our return to Chicago we hopped back in the car, destination Minnesota. One of Zack’s high school friends got married and of course we couldn’t turn down the invitation to get down with our bad selves at the reception (well, I couldn’t; Zack didn’t so much as let a pinky toe touch the dance floor). We did, however, make copious use of the open bar, which I paid dearly for the next morning. When we got back in the car and drove our exhausted shit home. AND DID I MENTION WE HAD TO GET BACK IN THE CAR? I mean, why am I even paying rent on an apartment? Living out of your car is waaaay cheaper, unless you are taking I-90 across Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, in which case you pretty much have to offer up your first born in tolls.

This upcoming holiday weekend we are caravaning (WAAAH!) back to Minnesota with my mom, step-dad and brother for a leisurely visit with Zack’s parents, who live on the Mississippi River. Much boating and drinking, drinking and boating will ensue. Seriously looking forward to the trip, seriously dreading the drive. The promise of drinking my father-in-law’s beer will press me onward. This is also the last weekend we have travel plans in the foreseeable future, THANK YOU LORD.

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