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    Nothing as good as a pedicure.

    The worn edges filed, the grubby skin pumiced, a foot rub in the middle that includes a kind of pummeling of the calves. Rubbing the tender places on balls, the spaces between the bones on the tender tops. And then lacquer intimately brushed onto shaped nails. If this is not something you do for yourself, god help you, do.

    This morning I woke to gray, supposedly a rainy day, all day. The mountain out my window eaten by mist. I knew I needed to get an oil change, after driving 4,000 miles across the country. My first thought: Morrisville, 9 miles away. Because it was gray and we have all the rain the west is missing. So a quick drive and then the rest of the day in my studio. After checking in on the writing studios, because it is a changeover day: 5 writers leaving, 5 arriving, each for two week stints. The rest all here for 4 weeks.

    And then I thought, Burlington. Drive to Burlington. And all of a sudden the gray day didn't matter. I wanted Korean food, and researched a place. Found a repair shop that did oil changes with good comments on yelp, on the way to the pedicure. Which I also went by the number of great reviews online. The internet did not steer me wrong. And I felt so bad, hadn't had my toenails done since I drove across the country, a quarter of the paint chipped off in Vermont mud and hiking.

    It was a day of treating myself. I checked in on the writing studios, spent an hour and left at noon. By 1pm, I had gotten lost twice on little backroads, found my way right, and was sitting at Naru ordering Bibimbop: rice, spiced beef, veges, a fried egg on top, spicy sauce on the side. Pickled veges as an appetizer. Not as good as Berkeley, but when you want a taste in your mouth, does it really matter? Then the oil change, a rip-off but the nicest older man who told me places to go in Burlington. Then to my pedicure appointment. Passing University of Vermont, a bucolic campus situated on a hillside overlooking the lake.

    When I came over a rise, saw the lake, I gasped. It might have well been SF Bay. I just somehow never imagined, the rolling hilly terrain, Victorian and salt box houses with slate roofs, the water gleaming in the distance. I got to Joanne's Nail Salon, on Pearl St and they had me pick my color (Big Apple Red) and sit in a spa chair. Which massages your back and neck while your feet soak in warm water with lavendar oil. And while soaking and reading poetry, I feel my phone buzz and this from my daughters, a party in light, my girls together in Philadelphia for the weekend. Skyping tomorrow.

    After the pedicure, I went next door to Radio Bean, perhaps one of the cooler cafe's in Burlington that also is a bar, restaurant, and music venue, for an iced Americano. Perfect, best in months and months. Then a walk to Church Street, where my head exploded. Because it was a brick lined outdoor mall/lane, like you'd see in Europe say, closed to cars. And all of a sudden I was surrounded by the Gap, and Urban Outfitters, Macy's and LL Bean, the Body Shoppe. I just never imagined they existed here, in Ben and Jerry's Vermont. I mean, of course they did... but after 6 weeks of small town living, no makeup, no blowdrying, a swipe of Burt's Bees on the lips somehow a big deal, a Gap and outdoor dining was somehow shocking. Plus a taco cart. Been there once and maybe done, though I did read Campbell McGrath's petry on a bench in the shade for half an hour.

    This is more what I expect to find in Vermont, a Peace & Justice store and one of maybe dozens of Unitarian churches, with a sermon on being trans.

    And then I wanted to go to Trader Joes. Because there is ONE in all of Vermont, and it happens to be in Burlington, which I have been excited about for weeks. And as I was about to turn east on Main St, I looked west and saw the lake, and immediately turned towards water. As is my want. I followed my instinct to the bottom, past the aquarium, to a little lane where there shouldn't have been parking on a Saturday afternoon, but someone pulled out after I prayed my little prayer to St. Gladys, learned from Joe Tracy (a lovely taxi driver) in SF:

    Gladys, Gladys, full of grace

    Help me find a parking place.

    Heretical or not, that sucker works.

    And I walked to the water and it was this:

    Glorious. Just breathtaking. All magic and possibility returned. Water is somehow my ground. It still makes me smile looking at the pictures. But also, Sausalito anybody? Lake Champlain. Who knew?

    Then back into the car, and off to Trader Joes. Every one is similar, in the best way, and I found my organic almond butter and rice cakes. The dried seaweed snacks, French brie, low sodium salami. Blue corn chips. Dark chocolate. A single bottle of brown ale from Mission St. in SF. Pineapple spears. A bottle of red wine from Chile. I am telling you, I might have been humming, my red toenails flashing underneath the red cart. Then loud music and open windows on the hour drive home, my hand occasionally riding the wind. A little front seat dancing, some out of tune singing. Then dinner, with the residents, and after, talking to my folks for almost an hour, always such a grounding delight. And now back in the studio, a little reading. This. My toenails the perfect reminder: real. It really happened.

    At 10:30pm, karoake will start at the Downtown Pub and I will maybe go and watch the townies, the ballet dancers at camp at the local college, and VSC residents all vie for who sings the best/worst. And the ballet dancers will nail Queen. And maybe a musical number. And I will dance, lost in the crowd, all of us alone together. Ok some people dance together, but I just move and forget myself.

    The day, like a bon bon, when I thought it would be rain. Surprised myself, feted and medicated. A gift of healing. And Burlington –– I could live there. A lake is like a small inland sea. I didn't get that, until now. Somehow, it was the biggest luxury.





    1. behave toward or deal with in a certain way. "she had been badly treated"

    synonyms: behave toward, act toward; deal with, handle; literary use

    2. regard something as being of a specified nature with implications for one's actions concerning it."treated as classified information" (regard, consider, view, look upon, think of)

    3. give medical care or attention to; try to heal or cure.

    synonyms: nurse, care for, tend (to), help, give treatment (to), attend (to), administer (to); medicate, cure, heal, remedy; fight, combat

    4. apply a process or a substance to (something) to protect or preserve it or to give it particular properties."treat with the appropriate finish"

    5. present or discuss a subject (tackle, deal with, handle, discuss, present, explore, investigate, approach, consider, study, analyze)

    6. provide someone with (food, drink, or entertainment) at one's own expense.

    synonyms: buy (for) someone, take someone out for, give (to) someone; pay for (for someone); foot the bill for, pick up the tab for regale with, entertain with/by, fête with, amuse with, divert with

    7. give someone (something) as a favor. "treat her to one of his smiles"

    8. do or have something that gives one great pleasure. "treat yourself—you can diet tomorrow"

    9. negotiate terms with someone, especially an opponent.


    1. an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure.

    synonyms: celebration, entertainment, amusement; surprise; party, excursion, outing, special event

    present, gift; delicacy, luxury, indulgence, extravagance, guilty pleasure; delight, boon, thrill, joy

    2. used with a possessive adjective to indicate that the person specified is paying for food, entertainment, etc., for someone else; the act of treating

    3. one’s turn to treat


    Middle English (in the senses ‘negotiate’ and ‘discuss (a subject)’): from Old French traitier, from Latin tractare ‘handle,’ frequentative of trahere ‘draw, pull.’ The current noun sense dates from the mid 17th century.

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