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I was in the Union Square-Hollins Market Historic District mainly because I was attending a networking event that was held at Lithuanian Hall on Hollins Street. This area is notable for the fact that the famous writer H.L. Mencken once lived there. My mother also came from that area. She grew up on Stricker Street. So I decided to arrive in the area a little bit earlier so I could explore the area while it was still daylight outside.

I took the light rail from the North Linthicum stop until I reached the city then I took the Charm City Circulator bus to the Hollins Market stop. While I was traveling I kept on remembering the stories that both my mother, grandmother, and aunt used to tell about their days when they lived on Stricker Street. It was a time where most stores and other places were within walking distance and the neighbors used to watch out for each other. Imagine the shock when I got off of the bus on West Baltimore Street.

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West Baltimore Street looked just as bad as the area that was hit by violence that happened in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death nearly two years ago.

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Hollins Street wasn’t much better. It was very common to see boarded up shops and row houses.

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There were times when I found it hard to believe that H.L. Mencken once lived on this very street. It’s obvious that this area has seen better days.

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Here’s the intersection of Hollins Street and South Stricker Street. My mother and late aunt grew up on South Stricker Street.

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The next photograph shows one of the few blocks of row houses on South Stricker Street where it looks like people are still occupying them and they also look pretty nice and well-kept. Unfortunately most of the row houses I saw on that street had just as many boarded up buildings as the ones on Hollins Street and West Baltimore Street.

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Here’s the intersection of South Stricker Street and West Baltimore Street.

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The weather was too rainy for me to do much exploring (which is why all the photos in this post are cloudy and gray). I stopped by the historic Hollins Market.

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The outside walls are adorned with mosaics featuring Edgar Allan Poe, the Inner Harbor, and the various Baltimore sports teams.

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I’ve been to Lexington Market several times before. Hollins Market is small and narrow compared to Lexington Market. I stopped by an hour before closing and I saw that half of the stalls were either empty or they were already closed for the day.

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The back of the market had this mural featuring famous Baltimoreans Babe Ruth, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.L. Mencken.

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I had originally planned on eating dinner at Hollins Market but since it was close to closing down, I ended up going to Mi Ranchito, a Mexican restaurant that was located across the street from Hollins Market. I found the food pretty affordable and tasty. I loved the Frida Kahlo illustrations that lined the restaurant.

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On my way to Lithuanian Hall for the networking event, I saw something that looked like a TARDIS from Doctor Who. On closer inspection it looked like one of those Little Free Libraries but there were no signs indicating that it was an official Little Free Library. The middle shelf looks like it could hold books but it was empty when I was there that day. The yellow words said “A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

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My mother would be very sad if she knew what happened to her old neighborhood. A few days after I was in the area I saw this video on the BBC News site that was about Baltimore that brought me to tears mainly because I was born in that city and I grew up near there. It’s really upsetting to see Baltimore rotting with its residents barely surviving in poverty, especially since the United States is supposed to be the richest nation in the world. It’s no wonder people became violent after Freddie Gray was killed by the police.

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Dancing Skeleton

I had a relatively quiet Halloween this year due mainly to a combination of tight finances and my mother’s latest health battle. (She spent a few days in the hospital earlier this month for sepsis.) I purchased this interesting pack of marshmallow Peeps from Five Below because these Halloween Peeps looked pretty unusual. I’ve seen Halloween Peeps shaped like black cats, ghosts, jack o’lanterns, and gravestones but this was the first time I’ve seen Peeps shaped like Frankenstein’s head.

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But that’s not all I found at Five Below. I also found pumpkin spice-flavored Peeps. These are the chicks that I usually see at Easter but I guess Just Born has decided that chicks aren’t just for Easter anymore.

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the combination of marshmallow, white chocolate fudge, and pumpkin spice but I found that they were quite tasty.

Among the treats I gave out this year was Utz Bats & Jacks Pretzels. That pack usually gives out a free black and white Halloween decoration (which is basically the Utz girl dressed as a witch while being surrounded by bats).

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The same decoration is given out each year. I know that the decoration is in black and white because it’s meant for children to color it using crayons or other media. I displayed it outside a couple of years ago in its uncolored state at the last minute before the first trick or treater arrived. This year I decided to take out some colored pencils and color it in.

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I did the coloring Friday night. I displayed it in the trunk of my car at my church’s Trunk or Treat event yesterday (Sunday), which was held in the parking lot for the children at that congregation. I took some photos of the event, which I’ll write about later.

After the Trunk or Treat event I hung that same colored decoration on the door of my home alongside the ghost from the Scream movies (which I’ve owned for a number of years) and a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead decoration (which I purchased from Five Below just a couple of days ago for only 99 cents).

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Like I wrote two weeks ago, I purchased this new bat to replace a previous bat that was stolen from the porch in 2014.

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I have a Grim Reaper dangling from the bottom of my mailbox near my small coffin.

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I also have some smaller Halloween items placed on the front porch near the coffin and Grim Reaper.

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I deliberately didn’t cut down the dead Black-Eyed Susans and other dead foliage in order to have this dead plants effect (which is way cheaper than buying fake dead Halloween foliage in the stores). Safeway had a special “2 medium pumpkins for $10” sale so I bought two pumpkins and carved jack o’lantern faces on them then placed them among the dead plants. I kept the seeds and roasted them so I now have healthy snacks.

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The next photos were taken in Glen Burnie earlier this month during one of the days I visited my mother in the hospital. After that visit I drove past a couple of homes where I saw those Donald Trump signs on the front lawn, which were the first homes I’ve ever seen anyone display anything that was pro-Trump. (It figures that I saw them in the town where I grew up from ages 5-19.) After I took photos of those two houses with the Trump signs, I decided to stop by Giant because I needed to buy a few things and I thought it would be easier to buy them at the Giant in Glen Burnie then drive straight home. I got out of that store just in time to enjoy this lovely sunset.

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In the same shopping center as that particular Giant I saw that one of those Spirit of Halloween stores had set up its temporary shop there.

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I went over to that store where I took these pictures documenting what’s considered “in” for Halloween 2016.

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Of course since this is an election year, there would be opportunities for people to dress up as either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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There was a Bernie Sanders mask available for sale. It’s too bad that there were reports of primary election rigging in places like IllinoisMassachusettsKentuckyArizonaNew YorkCalifornia, and Nevada since there were many poll results that stated that Bernie Sanders could’ve beaten Donald Trump by a much wider margin than the current narrow margin between Clinton and Trump. (Some recent polls say that Hillary Clinton has since come out way ahead but who knows what will go down on November 8.)

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I didn’t buy anything at that store due to tight finances. Even if I could afford to shop there I don’t think I would buy very many items because I’m really not into large lawn displays and there are so many costumes and masks that I can really keep in my home before I get overrun with costumes and masks.

I spent the bulk of Halloween day going to the first of a two-day session on how to improve my job hunting skills that’s offered by the State of Maryland. It’s currently being held in its offices in Laurel, which is located next to Laurel Shopping Center. During one of the breaks I walked around the far end of that shopping center where I saw the place where a second-run movie theater used to operate (but it went out of business a few years ago). There’s currently a haunted house known as Laurel’s House of Horrors that’s operating there. I didn’t go inside at all mainly because the admission was $30 and I’m really not into spending that much money on something that’s only going to last one hour at the most. I have to admit that the exterior looked interesting.

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I’ll finish this entry with this giant spider in the center of this giant spider web that’s currently displayed outside Makerspace 125.

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Here’s a update to a post I wrote a few days ago. My mother was released from the hospital a few days ago. I’m pretty relieved because money has been tight for me and I had to use more gas to commute up to the hospital in Glen Burnie (where she was staying). I’m really hoping that she doesn’t get any more sepsis episodes for the rest of this year.

I’ve written in the past about how unhappy I was growing up in Glen Burnie mainly because the other kids called me “retarded” and that label stuck with me not only all the way through grade 12 but even during my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College the fellow students who knew me from school continued to look down on me in a condescendingly way like I was diseased. I ended up having to make friends with students who attended other high schools because they didn’t know me growing up so they weren’t exposed to seeing kids call me “retarded”. It wasn’t until I transferred to the University of Maryland in College Park that I was finally able to put my past behind me because most of the students there knew nothing about my past.

I don’t regret leaving Glen Burnie because my ability to lead a normal life would’ve been seriously compromised in terms of having friends or even being able to find jobs (especially if one of my old teasers had been a hiring authority at a place where I submitted my resume).

Where I live I see the occasional Hillary Clinton signs on the lawns but those are pretty rare. I have never seen any Donald Trump signs at all—until I visited Glen Burnie. When I was leaving the hospital after visiting my mother on Saturday I drove past couple of houses that actually have Trump signs on the front lawns.

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It figures that I would see pro-Trump people in Glen Burnie. Never mind the fact that Donald Trump has never given a rat’s ass about lower middle class/working class towns like Glen Burnie. I mean, look at what he has built in his career as a real estate developer. No one living in Glen Burnie could ever afford to move to any buildings that has Trump’s name on it unless he or she won the Powerball lottery.

And then there are the rape and sexual abuse allegations against him as well as all of the creepy comments he made about how he’d date Ivanka Trump if it weren’t for the fact that she is his daughter. I just only hope these homeowners don’t have wives or daughters but I have a feeling that they have women in their lives. If I was the wife or daughter of someone who supports Donald Trump so much that he has placed a pro-Trump sign in the yard, I would wonder if my husband or father secretly approves of rape and sexual abuse. If I was a daughter I would also wonder if my father also has secret desires to date me if I wasn’t his daughter just like what Donald Trump has said about Ivanka.

It would be pretty ironic if either of those homeowners were among those who taunted me all through school by calling me “retarded.” If that’s the case, it would be appropriate that they are Trump supporters given how Trump has made fun of a disabled man.

Keeping pro-Trump signs on the front lawn after every horrible thing Trump has said and done over these many months are advertising “I AM A DOUCHEBAG AND I’M PROUD OF IT!!!” Especially given the reports that Donald Trump refuses to say whether he will even honor the election results if Hillary Clinton wins in a few weeks. I’m sure these assholes don’t give a damn about keeping the U.S. a functioning democracy or honoring the U.S. Constitution. They probably will refuse to watch videos like this one showing Keith Olbermann expressing outrage over the possibility that Trump may not even honor the election results if he happens to lose.

I am so glad I left Glen Burnie years ago. At least I’m among people who have accepted me as I am and I don’t have to see any pro-Trump lawn signs.

For the past few days I’ve been trying to get my life in gear. I’m working on a new series of DIY videos on how to customize one of those new Made to Move Barbie dolls, the first of which I’ll write about tomorrow. I’m also currently looking for a new day job to pay the bills since my last one ended so badly that I had to write a retraction post about that startup because the startup’s founder had previously talked me into writing a glowing post about the startup in this very blog instead of getting a separate blog account that would be devoted to promoting that startup. (As a result, I had to institute a new policy that I would no longer use this blog to write about work that I’m doing for other people until after there was some kind of closure to that work.)

But then I read something about one of the candidates in this year’s election that literally triggered me into remembering my divorce. Here’s some background information: Lindsay Lohan was a child star who appeared in many Disney movies while she was growing up. She was one of those child stars whose appearances as a teenager in the films Freaky Friday and Mean Girls showed that she had the potential to be one of those rare type of child stars—someone who could successfully make the transition as an adult actress taking on mature roles that could potentially gain her an Academy Award nomination (and maybe even an Oscar) a la Jodie Foster or Judy Garland. That promising potential was sadly squandered when she got into drugs and alcohol and one could easily spend an entire afternoon perusing the gossip sites for a litany of the troubles she has gotten herself into since she turned 18.

A new recorded audio from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s past has recently surfaced where Trump was engaged in a conversation with radio shock jock Howard Stern over how hot the then-18-year-old Lindsay Lohan was while mentioning that her father, Michael, was a train wreck that would affect Lindsay needing a father figure in her life. Stern asked Trump “Can you imagine the sex with this troubled teen?” Here is Trump’s answer:

“She’s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they’re always the best in bed?”

Of course that audio provoked all kinds of protests ranging from Lohan’s Freaky Friday costar, Jamie Lee Curtis, to Lohan herself. But this story has triggered me on a personal level for this reason: For many years I was in a stable marriage to a man whom I thought was very loving and devoted and who was also full of integrity. In September, 2011 I underwent hip surgery. During the next three months I received very loving care from my husband while he kept on telling me that he loved me. We celebrated a lovely Christmas holiday together. Just three days after Christmas he came home, told me that he was moving out, left me with two notes (one was a schedule that he wanted me to follow even though it would ultimately lead to our divorce while the other was a “reason” letter where he essentially blamed my purchase of the 1970’s historical American Girl doll on the day before my hip surgery because that doll “added to the clutter” of our home), then ran out the door.

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For the next few weeks I reached out to him numerous time by phone, email, and texts but he refused to answer them and he refused to speak with me. I wondered if he had found someone else and I suspected that if he did she would’ve been someone whom he met through his NASA job. It wasn’t until a month later when a few of my friends let me know that, yes, they had seen him with another woman but she wasn’t a NASA co-worker.

That woman was someone whom I knew and I thought was a friend. She has also been open about how she had spent much of her adult life battling severe depression. In fact she said that her depression is so severe that she has an experimental pacemaker in her brain. Despite that she was only able to work only a couple of days a week and she ended up getting SSI disability. About 11 months before my husband left me in 2011 she ended up spending a few days at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore because her body had grown accustomed to the current course of treatment and she became really depressed. My husband and I had planned to visit her in the hospital one night when it turned out that she was released the afternoon before our planned trip to Baltimore. I was completely dumbfounded to learn that my husband had chosen this person—with all of her personal baggage—to be his mistress instead of one of his female NASA co-workers. My husband married this woman two months after our divorce became final.

When I read Donald Trump’s words on how deeply troubled women are the best in bed, I started to imagine my ex-husband having that same attitude. For the last few years I kept on thinking that my husband would have stayed with me if only I had developed a severe mental illness, which is totally fucked up thinking. My husband could have left me for any one of his female NASA co-workers who are all very intelligent, very independent, and share his fascination with air and space travel but, instead, he picked the one person whose life and career have been adversely affected by mental illness. I feel horrified that there are men out there like Donald Trump and my ex-husband who are getting attracted to deeply troubled women when these unfortunate women should really be left alone to quietly deal with their own issues in their own way without interference from anyone else (unless the women themselves ask for help).

My ex-husband has actually acted on his impulses and I have totally lost all the respect I ever had for him. (There are other longtime friends who had confided in me that they now avoid him as well because they have become so alienated by his behavior in recent years.) I don’t know whether Donald Trump has ever knowingly had sex with someone with mental illness or who’s deeply troubled in other ways but he has been accused of rape and sexual molestation of women and girls as young as 13.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked but this is the man whose inappropriate remarks about his daughter Ivanka have served as the basis for The Daily Show‘s two-part series Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and Again, Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and he has bragged about how you have to grab women by the pussy.

Those latest Donald Trump/Howard Stern remarks reopening old mental wounds about how my marriage fell apart is bad enough but a couple of days ago I got word that my mother is once again back in the hospital in Glen Burnie for sepsis. Friday I had to cut short my job hunting attempts so I could travel from the DC area to Glen Burnie to visit her. Yesterday I went to the hospital for the second day in a row.

I had planned on going today but there is this strange smell emanating from the kitchen that has been going on for the past couple of days and I really need to do a thorough cleaning to get to the source of that. (I suspect that there’s a dead mouse trapped somewhere in some crack or crevice.) I’m going to have other family members fill in for me today then tomorrow do this schedule where I stop by the Maryland Workforce Exchange for professional help on how to improve my job hunting efforts in the morning then drive on to Glen Burnie to visit my mom in the hospital in the afternoon.

But right now I’m going to have to get in a position where I force myself to work on the kitchen because I’m feeling kind of sad and depressed over everything. 😦

My latest trip to Baltimore came during a really crazy period. A few weeks I submitted this painting to a special art fundraiser that was being put on by the Escape Artists Gallery where the proceeds would go towards helping the victims of the recent Ellicott City flood.

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On the day I submitted that painting I also took a few photos of the area near the Escape Artists Gallery, which I posted here.

Soon after I submitted that painting I made an appointment for an interview for a potential job, which would be located in Jessup yet the interviews themselves took place in my old hometown of Glen Burnie. The night before that job interview I got word that my mother became very ill and she ended up in a hospital that was also located in Glen Burnie. I went through with the job interview the following morning while I took a change of clothes. After the job interview I went to Crabtowne USA where I ate lunch and changed clothes in the women’s restroom then headed to the hospital. For four days before the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend I would commute from the DC area to Glen Burnie to visit with my mother. Between those visits I would photograph some old haunts that I used to go to when I was growing up.

My mother managed to recover from her latest bout with sepsis and she was released from the hospital on the Friday, the same day that signaled the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend. A couple of days earlier I had received an invitation to go to the closing party for that art exhibit in Baltimore that would take place Friday night. Since my mom was in the process of getting out of the hospital, I decided to just bypass Glen Burnie and go straight into Baltimore.

It was the fifth day in a row that I commuted from the DC area to the Baltimore area but this trip was relatively relaxing compared to the previous four days. I arrived in Baltimore a few hours before the start of the party because I wanted to walk around the area some more.

I took the light rail into the city. At the light rail stop that’s closest to the Escape Artists Gallery there is this interesting looking statue that seems to depict soldiers from the American Revolution.

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This abandoned building has some nice art deco features and it probably was a really nice building a long time ago. Even though it looks deserted it still manages to maintain its art deco architecture.

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The main reason why I wanted to arrive in Baltimore early is because I found out that the Walters Art Museum is located just a couple of blocks from the Escape Artists Gallery. I had only been in that museum one other time and that was when I was a teenager. I remember my mother took me to that museum (which was then-named The Walters Art Gallery) because she kept on saying that she wanted to take me to that museum as well as some of the other nice places in Baltimore. I think she finally got around to taking me there when she realized that I was growing up and she wanted to take me there before I reached adulthood. The only things I remember from my one and only prior trip are the collection of Fabergé eggs and this mummy that was still in its sarcophagus.

So I was all excited that I would finally make my second visit to this same museum in my life, especially since it offers free admission. What made this visit even better is that, after enduring several weeks of high heat and high humidity, that awful heatwave went away. (What happened is that Hurricane Hermine was coming up the East Coast. It never went inland but it was powerful enough for the beach resorts to ban swimming and it blew away that high heat and high humidity. The weather was totally wonderful.

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I spent around two hours in that museum but, to be honest, if I had to do it again, I would spend the entire day in that museum because there is literally so much to see. I only managed to see two of the floors and part of a third floor. I took some pictures of the art that I liked, which show just a portion of what The Walters Art Museum has on display. (Some of the photos include nudity so they are definitely NSFW.)

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The Walters Art Museum also offers this really great view of the nearby Washington Monument.

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I stayed in that museum until it was closing time. As I walked outside I began to really enjoy the sunny yet very pleasant weather. I sat down on a chair that was located near the Washington Monument as I enjoyed the excellent weather and rested from walking around The Walters Art Museum for two hours. After a while I got up again and took some more photos around the area, including the Washington Monument and the Peabody Institute.

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At one point I thought about eating dinner at this locally owned pizza place instead of the Subway that’s located under the Escape Artists Gallery. While I could afford to eat at Subway, the pizza place was slightly more expensive so I decided to hit the ATM machine that was located inside that pizza place. But then I got one of those “Access Denied” messages on the receipt, even though I had just deposited the latest alimony check from my ex-husband. I briefly walked a block north to see if there were any other ATMs in the area but I didn’t find one and I was too tired to try walking a block south so I ended up eating dinner at Subway instead.

Finally was time for the party at the Escape Artists Gallery to begin (and it was located directly over the Subway where I ate my dinner). I arrived after the party was scheduled to begin only to discover that I was the first person who arrived. So I ended up talking with one of the people who ran the gallery where I learned that it had sold only half of the art currently in the show and the bulk of the sales happened on opening night. Since then the gallery had sold only one or two additional art pieces but, as a fundraiser, it was a bust. I also learned that my own art piece was among the unsold art pieces.

I walked around the gallery where I not only saw my own painting hanging (which you can see in the photo below) but I also saw the other works of art that were currently on display.

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This next photo shows that the party consisted of just seven people (including myself). I talked with the other party people for a bit but it was pretty much a bust. I decided to leave that party a half-an-hour before it was scheduled to end. I said my good-byes to the person I spoke with when I first arrived and she suggested that I take my painting with me since the show was going to close in two days. I took up her offer because I was really dreading making yet another trip from the DC area to the Baltimore area for a sixth day out of the last seven days.

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As I was walking back to the light rail station with my painting, I took a couple of gorgeous sunset photos.

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I even got a chance to see how gorgeous the Washington Monument looks at night when it’s all lit up like in the next photo.

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When I arrived at the light rail station I saw that the Revolutionary War soldiers statues that I first saw when I arrived were bathed in a warm yellow light.

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Just a few days before Labor Day I got word that my mother was sent to the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie for sepsis. I even wrote a couple of blog posts on August 31, 2016 and September 1, 2016 about my mom’s latest hospitalization. Luckily the staff managed to treat it so she could be released just in time for the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

When I was growing up in Glen Burnie the hospital was known as North Arundel Hospital. I was there when I was a high school senior in order to have a pilonidal cyst removed just before the start of Thanksgiving Day. (In fact I was released just the day before Thanksgiving.) I visited other relatives during their hospital stays when it was still known as North Aundel.

The University of Maryland took over North Arundel after I permanently left Glen Burnie and they not only renamed that hospital but it also did major amount of remodeling of the original hospital building while adding other adjacent buildings next to it so that hospital is now way larger than when I remembered it while I was growing up.

I took a few photos of the hospital. It’s very glitzy compared to my memories of the old North Arundel Hospital. But my mom did get excellent care during her recent stay so I have no complaints.

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I also spent some time exploring Glen Burnie while I was commuting both to and from the hospital. In fact the whole week before Labor Day was spent commuting from the Washington, DC area to Glen Burnie. I checked out what was once one of my favorite shopping malls growing up that was known as the Glen Burnie Mall. In the years since I’ve moved that mall changed its name to The Centre at Glen Burnie but it has definitely gone downhill since I left that town. One of the few interesting things I found about that mall is that it was the first time I’ve ever seen a vending machine that dispenses Pringles potato chips. I purchased one and I found that it sold the small individual sized cans in that machine. But I still found it pretty novel that there is actually a vending machine that sells nothing but Pringles potato chips.

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I also went inside of Toys R Us, which is still going strong even though its main entrance faces a nearly dead mall. I saw that there is yet another re-release of Furby, which brought back memories of the time I did a fan site devoted to Furby in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s only to get all kinds of crazy attention from people who ere desperate to get their hands on these electronic critters. This new Furby generation was on sale for a whopping $99! (I remember when the original Furbys only cost $30.)

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I last took pictures inside this mall back in 2014 and even then it looked dead with very few stores still in business. As you can see, this mall has gotten even more deserted since then. There’s one end of the mall that’s not even worth walking to anymore because all of the storefronts and kiosks are completely closed and empty.

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I did some driving along the downtown Glen Burnie area on Crain Highway. This downtown was once very lively with a lot of locally owned mom-and-pop stores back when Glen Burnie was a small rural farming town. But then the developers built new shopping malls and shopping centers and those new shopping areas had siphoned off much of the original downtown businesses. When I was growing up, I saw mostly empty storefronts. In fact, that downtown was notorious for the New Glen Theater, which originally started as a regular movie theater but, by the time my family moved to Glen Burnie, that theater showed nothing but pornographic x-rated films. After I left Glen Burnie the New Glen Theater was somehow closed (I have no idea if the owner decided to sell or if the local officials seized it through eminent domain) and torn down. The downtown has undergone a bit of a revival in recent years. (Naturally all this happened long after I moved away.) There is this really cool antique store at the intersection of Crain Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard that is filled from the floor to the ceiling with antiques. One could easily spend the whole day in that store.

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I also checked out this large big box discount store that’s located closer to where my childhood home is located. It’s known as Gabe’s and there aren’t any stores with that name in my area. In fact, I did a search at Gabe’s site and I found that that chain does operate stores in my area under the name Rugged Wearhouse.

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As you can see Gabe’s is a discount place with a constant stream of merchandise that’s similar to places like Roses, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall’s, and T.J. Maxx.

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I last visited my mother in the hospital on the day before she was scheduled to be released (which was the Friday before the start of Labor Day weekend). I brought my latest painting, My Little Pony, with me because it was also the first day that the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show was accepting entries and it was the most convenient time due to the fact that I was going to Baltimore the next day (which I’ll write about in a future post). I left the painting in the car while I visited my mom. Afterwards I stopped off at this Royal Farms Store. I decided to pick up some dinner and I love Royal Farms’ fried chicken.

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This particular Royal Farms Store had an adjacent car wash that was also touted as being environmentally friendly.

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This particular Royal Farms is pretty spacious, as you can see in the next few photos.

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Royal Farms has a unique way of ordering food that I haven’t seen anywhere else. You go to this touch screen and order what you want. This screen prints out a receipt. You go to the cashier, show the person your receipt, and pay for your meal. Then you wait until your meal has been packaged then you pick it up.

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I also purchased a pack of Berger Cookies because I haven’t had them in a while and they are such a great treat.

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I basically drove from Glen Burnie to the Greenbelt Community Center so I could drop off my painting for the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show. Then I returned home where I ate my Royal Farms fried chicken meal and Berger Cookies.

I recently submitted this piece to last weekend’s Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show for display, which I did in acrylic paint. It’s basically fan art based on the hit TV show My Little Pony.

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My Little Pony
Acrylic on canvas
10 inches x 10 inches
25 cm x 25 cm

Here is the story behind this project, which began during a relatively dark period in my life. Two months before I started this project in 2013 I ended up in divorce court. Not long afterwards the new STEM center that was then-known as Club 125 opened its doors for the first time. (It has since been renamed Makerspace 125.) Since it was supposed to be a drop-in place for making anything we want, I thought it would be a cool idea to bring some of my acrylic paints to paint these small 4 inch x 4 inch (10 cm x 10 cm) canvases that I recently purchased from the local arts and crafts store. I thought that if painting these small canvases worked out for me, I might even paint more of them to sell at future street craft shows.

I was stuck on what I wanted to paint until I decided to paint the characters based on the hit TV series My Little Pony, which has attracted a sizable audience of college-aged men despite the fact that the series was originally targeted at girls under 10. I’ve seen a few episodes myself and I liked the series. I also thought that the characters were cute and colorful enough to try to replicate on a canvas.

I combed the Internet for some My Little Pony images that I could use as a reference when creating my pieces and I drew them at home. The following day I packed my art supplies and headed over to the STEM center to work on my canvases. I started with this canvas, which featured the two pegasus characters Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.

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I was mostly done with that canvas when I got a call from my divorce lawyer telling me that the divorce certificate had just arrived at his office and he offered to drive by my place to give my copy to me. I told him that I wasn’t at home but I was at the STEM center. He went there and gave the certificate to me. It was a good thing that I had finished painting the first canvas because I had lost all enthusiasm for working on it after I got the certificate. After the lawyer left I waited for that one canvas to dry then packed my art supplies and left.

After that day I didn’t touch any of the other small canvases for a long time. I just lost enthusiasm for the project because of the memory of getting that divorce certificate. From time to time they would turn up whenever I was doing periodic decluttering and I would say that I should try to finish the other three but then I didn’t get around to it. In 2014 I took an initial stab of working on this canvas featuring Rarity, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle but I stopped working on it after I painted some areas because, once again, I lost enthusiasm for this project.

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For the next two years the My Little Pony tiny canvas project consisted of only one finished canvas, one partially painted canvas, and two other canvases that were drawn in pencil but unpainted. This year, as I came across the four canvases yet again while doing some decluttering, I finally decided that I was tired of finding the mostly unfinished canvases, vowing that I would get around to finishing the project one day in some vague future, then not doing anything further with them. So I made the time to finish this project once and for all. I decided to try working on one of the easier canvases I drew instead of finishing the partially painted canvas (which had a lot of detail work plus I drew the three figures a bit on the small side). I spent a couple of hours working on the gray cross-eyed pegasus character, who was given the unofficial name Derpy Hooves by the My Little Pony fandom although the series itself initially named the character Ditzy Doo but has since renamed her Muffins.

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Having felt a sense of achievement at finishing that canvas, I decided to do a longer painting session where I would simultaneously work on the partially finished canvas featuring Rarity, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle while working on this last canvas featuring the two earth ponies known as Applejack and Pinkie Pie.

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I basically took out all of the paints I would need to finish the two canvases then I worked this way: I would paint all of the areas on both canvases that needed to be done in green, then I did all of the areas that needed to be done in pink, etc. until I managed to finish all of the painting.

Once I finished painting all of the canvases I began to evolve my thinking on what I would ultimately do with them. I initially thought about gluing magnets on the back so they would serve as refrigerator magnets but then I realized that, given the dimensions, they would be a bit too big for that function. I thought about using them as coasters but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of people putting hot or cold cups of liquids on something that was made as unique one of a kind works of art. I also discounted the idea of turning them into pins or pendants because they were too big for that function. I knew that I could display them on tiny easels but, since I intended the four to serve as a set, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to purchase four tiny works of art with tiny easels at once.

Then I hit upon this idea. I purchased a blank 10 inch x 10 inch (25 cm x 25 cm) canvas from a local art supply store. I painted the canvas using the same colors I used for the sky, clouds, and grass in the four smaller canvases. Then I took some acrylic gel and I glued the four smaller canvases on to the larger canvas to create one standalone piece.

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I finished this piece shortly before I learned about my mother’s latest hospitalization so I was able to have a completed piece to submit to the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show while I made the commute to Glen Burnie to visit my mom. I managed to submit it just a few hours after I visited my mother for the last time prior to her discharge from the hospital the following day.

While the painting was on display at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show, I saw some positive feedback first-hand. One condition of participating in the art show is that everyone had to sign up for one shift of either helping with setting up the exhibit, serving a one-hour shift as a monitor, or helping with taking down the exhibit at the end. I signed up for serving as a monitor between 3 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. During my monitoring time a mother came in with her three elementary school-age daughters. I heard the daughters suddenly squeal with delight and I realized that they were squealing over my painting when one of them was saying “Look, there’s Fluttershy and Rarity and Spike and Applejack…”

The one rule of doing fan art is this: You know you have successfully rendered your fan art when other people can recognize the character(s) and can name the relevant movie/TV series/comic books/anime/manga/Disney animated movie.

My mother will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. That’s great because she’ll be spending the Labor Day holiday weekend at home instead of in the hospital. I’m also happy as well because I was not looking forward to driving from outside of Washington, DC to Glen Burnie (where her hospital is located) during a major holiday weekend that tends to draw huge visitors who clog the highways even more than usual. So I’m happy.

I tried to make the best of that situation by going to Crabtowne USA while I was in the area. I ate lunch the first day I visited my mom while taking advantage of that restaurant’s $7.99 value meal menu that’s only in effect from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from Monday-Friday. I only ate there once because it can still get expensive even with the value meal. But I mostly played the vintage pinball machines and arcade games that Crabtowne USA has become famous for in recent years.

I also visited some other places around Glen Burnie while I remembered the years I spent there from ages 5-19 (when I went to the University of Maryland at College Park) and for a 10-month period from 22-23 (when I got married). Even that got tiresome after a day or two because, to be honest, Glen Burnie isn’t exactly a tourist attraction. Glen Burnie’s biggest claim to fame is that an episode of the 1970’s TV series Movin’ On was shot there. There aren’t any memorials or museums or art galleries to visit other than what’s listed on RoadsideAmerica.com (which I had already seen on previous trips).  I also didn’t look up any old friends and acquaintances who still lived there due to the fact that I have pretty much severed ties with the kids I grew up with because most of them looked down on me like I was subhuman and they used to call me “retarded,” which stuck with me throughout all of my school years and it discouraged most guys from asking me for a date.

So I was happy when I visited my mom today and I got word from her case manager that she will be sent home tomorrow. I can mostly rest easy for Labor Day while hoping that Hurricane Hermine, which is currently striking the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida, goes nowhere near my area.

I currently have a lot going on in my life now. I’m presently doing a freelance project from home on behalf of a nonprofit group that I’m not going to get into because I’m sticking with my new blog policy of not writing about any ongoing projects that I’m still working on for other people until after that project is completed. (I had to enact it after I was working for a startup that insisted that I write blog posts in my own blog—which is the one that you’re currently reading—about its new product that it was trying to sell instead of the startup getting its own website or blogging account. You can read about how well it ultimately went in full detail.) Fortunately that nonprofit already has its own website, blog, and social media accounts so I won’t have to deal with telling anyone why I will refuse any requests to write any posts in this blog about that project until after it’s finished.

Recently I got a job lead through my support group for people who are separated or divorced about a temp agency needing to hire a bunch of file clerks for a big digitizing project that’s being done on behalf of the Veteran’s Administration. The job would be in Jessup but the interviews were being held in Glen Burnie. I managed to snag an interview for Monday, August 29 at 10 a.m. The night before that interview I got word that my mother had been admitted to the hospital yet again for sepsis. She’s currently in a hospital in Glen Burnie.

I ended up going through with the job interview but I packed a change of clothes to wear for going to the nearby hospital to visit my mother. At one point I was pulled over by a cop for having a busted taillight. Fortunately I left plenty of time for commuting so I was able to arrive for the 10 a.m. with only a minute to spare. I was among the applicants who were herded into a room for orientation about this job only to discover that it required standing nearly eight hours a day plus lifting 35 pounds at a time. With my hip replacement, I’m not sure if I could handle the physical requirements. The recruiter said that we were free to stay to interview with one of the other recruiters for other positions that the agency may get in the future. So I stayed a little while longer while filling out an application and chatting with one of the recruiters. The woman I spoke with didn’t have anything but she agreed to keep my application and resume on file in case something comes up.

After dealing with a cop and that job interview, I headed over to Crabtowne USA where I changed into shorts and a t-shirt in the women’s restroom. I ordered a crab cake sandwich, fries, and a Diet Coke through this $7.99 value meal menu that the restaurant only offers Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. After lunch I briefly played a couple of vintage video games and pinball machines then headed over to the nearby hospital to visit my mother.

Right now she’s doing okay but she frequently gets tired and there are times when she simply drifts off to sleep. I’ve been bringing my laptop with me so I could continue to do work for that nonprofit and do some web surfing whenever my mother falls asleep. (Hooray for the hospital’s free wi-fi!) I’m hoping that she’ll get released before the Labor Day holiday weekend because it would suck to be stuck there for the holidays. Plus I would have to deal with heavy holiday traffic since I’m currently commuting from just outside Washington, DC to Glen Burnie. On top of that the city of Greenbelt has its annual Labor Day Festival, which has its own area traffic snarls as people try to enter and compete for parking. (There is a free shuttle bus service with stops at various locations but a lot of people still prefer to drive their cars and park as close to the festival grounds as possible.)

The Escape Artists Gallery fundraiser for the Ellicott City flood victims is still going on but I haven’t checked out my painting in that show nor have I gotten word on whether it has been sold. I will get a chance to see my painting on display this Friday evening because the gallery is having a farewell party. (The show ends on September 4.) If my mother doesn’t get released from the hospital by then, my plan is to visit her first then go to the North Linthicum light rail and take that into Baltimore for the party. If she does get released then I’ll go into Baltimore earlier, spend some time at the Walters Art Museum (which is located near the Escape Artists Gallery and it has free admission), eat dinner at the Subway that’s located underneath the gallery then head into the party.

A few weeks ago I had prescheduled a few posts that will gradually go live over the next few days so I don’t really have to do much with this blog at the moment.

Right now I’m hoping that my mother gets well enough so she can be released from the hospital before the holiday weekend begins.

A couple of years ago I went to a party at the home of a person whom I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced. She announced that she was having a bonfire and she invited people to bring anything they would like to burn. A couple of years ago I brought my wedding cake topper to burn, which I wrote about in this blog and I shot this short video.

Recently the same person was having another party with a bonfire at her home and she invited people to bring something to burn. I found something that had been hanging on the wall of my home that I thought would be proper to burn. It was a wedding present from my parents and it featured this embroidery piece that was handmade by my mother the placed in this lovely frame. It had hung in the living room of my home for many years and it still remained there after my husband literally ran away from home and subsequently divorced me.

I no longer wanted the embroidery piece as is. I couldn’t sell it on eBay because it was personalized with my name and my ex-husband’s name along with the date of our wedding. I thought of ways that I could somehow alter it and maybe use it in some kind of potential future arts and crafts project only to find that it really can’t be altered without ruining or destroying the piece.

I called my mother to see if she would want it back since she worked hard on it but she said she didn’t want it either (especially since it has my ex-husband’s name on it).

So I did what I felt I had to do. I removed the piece from the frame (which I kept because it’s really too lovely to destroy and I can definitely recycle it), brought it with me to the party, and burned it. I also made a video of its destruction.

The party hostess also provided sparklers for the guests to light (especially since it was the night before the Fourth of July holiday) and here’s a photo of one of the sparklers I lit using the bonfire.

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