Judge Not Lest Ye Be… Messy

SCSSA crumpled Wendy’s bag on the floor of the front passenger’s side, a coffee-soaked napkin in the cup holder resting innocently atop sticky, stray coins mingled with toothpicks and straw wrappers and a Starbucks pastry wrapper pinned beneath the snow brush on the floor of the backseat told me all that I needed to know.

As someone who thrives on neatness and order, I used to be quite judgmental of people with messy cars. And let me be a bit more specific by stating that when I say “used to be” I mean like… a month ago.

But climbing into my driver’s seat yesterday morning to the aforementioned scene caused me to realize that I am, indeed, one of THOSE people. That’s right. I, myself, am hereby (or at least for the time being) a Messy Car Person.

In my past life, I wondered how on earth it was possible for people to ride around in vehicles with muddy floor mats, cluttered backseats, unidentifiable schmutz on the interior and random cheerios strewn haphazardly about or ground deeply into the carpet.

I marveled at others’ abilities to travel from A to B all the while overlooking such sins as dirty clothes, fast food wrappers, wrinkled bits of note paper and empty beverage cups. I mean, it’s a CAR… not a closet or a kitchen or a GARBAGE CAN! Thus, it is with great humiliation and shame that I admit… I now stand among them.

HOW did this happen? You might ask. Someone once so fussy has now just given up!? Am I merely a modern version of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout who would not take the garbage out? Well. It’s not quite that simple. Or maybe it is. I’m not sure. What I DO know is that I got busy. VERY busy.

I know I’ve already touched on this but I started a new job that occupies me greatly with its lengthy commute and wicked learning curve. (Not that I’m complaining… because I honestly LOVE IT!) And I started taking a class. That has actual homework. So apparently I went from having oodles of time for the luxury of tossing out the trash… to not… having that luxury.

That’s it. That’s all I got. It’s the only excuse I can come up with. Busyness. I don’t want to admit that I’m lazy or dirty or slovenly. I think I’m just busy at the moment. At least I hope that’s all it is. Hopefully it is a fleeting thing and one day, when life begins to flatten out, I’ll be Little Miss Clean Car again — looking down my perfect little nose with great disgust in heavy judgment of the Messy Car People once more.

And all will be right with the world.

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The Deep End

deep endSo it’s time to address the virtual elephant in the room. I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty lately… And a little bit like a slacker. Recently, I’ve barely managed to eek out two posts a week here on this blog, where at one time, I was posting daily. Admittedly, my comments go unacknowledged and unanswered for far too long. And I’m not EVEN going to address how badly I suck at visiting my friends’ blogs.

Except that I’ve been anything but a slacker… in my Real Life. In my flesh-and-blood-non-pixel-people-cyber-world things have been fairly active. So active, in fact, that it has kept me from this thing that I love so much. So to those of you who’ve been faithful readers all along AND those of you who may have just begun following, please accept my apologies.

Within the span of ONE week I began a new job in the Marketing Department of a large architectural firm, started studying Web Design at the Columbus College of Art and Design and fell prey to “The Crud” that’s been going around. I nursed one of my beloved cluster headaches for nearly two weeks while trying to assimilate to 35-minute-long city commutes, brown bag lunches, new passwords, unfamiliar coffee machines, copiers, printers and conference calls that span at least five different time zones.

I was, for lack of a better term, thrown into the deep end of Grownupland without a flotation device. I went from sleeping until 10, lounging around the house watching bad movies on Lifetime and sending out resumes, making calls and receiving countless “you suck” rejection emails while in yoga pants and sweatshirts… to actual WORK. Yes, that is a real, live, alarm-clock-smacking-rush-rush-shower-makeup-pantyhose-heels J-O-B.

But just last night—while brushing the three inches of fresh snow (that had fallen since lunch) from my car after an 11-hour work day—it occurred to me that even though I am thoroughly exhausted and my head feels as though it could explode from all of the “new” information I am taking in on a daily basis… I feel alive.

There is something quite invigorating about being challenged and pushed to beyond what we think we can bear at times. Hopefully soon, when the waters calm I’ll get back on track with more regular writing. But until then, if the choice is between sitting on the couch listening to Hoda and Kathy Lee whine about wine while looking for a job OR getting tossed head-long into the Deep End… I think I’d rather swim.

Me? A Morning Person?

As many of my regular readers probably already know… I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I am not even really an “awake” person. I love sleep. I adore sleep. I like falling asleep, staying asleep, going back to sleep, talking about sleep, writing about sleep, planning for my next sleep and finding extra time in my schedule for… you guessed it… sleep.

But, you see… I started something this week. It was kind of an accident and now it has snowballed into this whole “morning person” thing. And well, let’s be honest… mornings interfere with sleep… So I have what you might call a bit of a dilemma on my hands.

While trying to make an important deadline for work, I stayed up one night until I just hit the wall. It was only midnight, but I could go no further. So… as much as I HATED the thought of it… I had but one choice. Go to bed right then, set the alarm for an hour and a half earlier and get up and go to the office in the wee hours so as to meet said deadline.

And you know what? I got up, I ate a healthier, low-calorie breakfast, I encountered little traffic on my commute and the time alone at my desk proved to be quite productive. By the time my co-workers began to arrive, my early-morning-I-hate-everyone-and-am-bitter-because-I-am-awake fog had begun to lift. I felt alert and ready to tackle whatever challenges the day had to offer.

However, as with anything worthwhile… there is a price. By 5 p.m., though there was definitely still work to be done, I was done. I could work no more. I was tired and cranky and ready to hit the couch in my favorite baggy t-shirt and sweats. Well, I thought… I guess I’ll get up early again tomorrow and finish up this work before the real day begins.

This time, I went to bed one hour earlier and set the alarm for two hours earlier than usual. I got up, ate the healthy, fiber-packed breakfast, sped to work like a demon, got the best parking spot and finished several projects before anyone else dared darken the doorway.

By today—the third day—co-workers and Facebook friends have begun to wonder what the hell I’m doing up so early. (Like I’m not wondering the same exact thing…) “What are you doing up so early? What are you doing up so early?” everyone keeps asking me. And I tell them that I’ve just been finding the mornings to be a great time to get work done…

Not to mention that (as an aside) I’m secretly hoping the uber-early, super-healthy, low-calorie breakfast of champions combined with multiple cups of coffee may help me shed these unwanted pounds in time to break out my sweater dresses. Because, let’s face it… no amount of Spanx or control-top panty hose is going to hide an extra 10 pounds when it comes to body-hugging knits.

Anyway… back to mornings. So I guess what I’m saying is that there may be hope for me yet. Perhaps I can finally make peace with my alarm clock and stop abusing the snooze button after all. Maybe I can be a morning person! Maybe one day I’ll even get up and do one of the five different yoga DVDs currently collecting dust in a basket by my bed! Or go for a walk in the brisk, morning air… or take up kickboxing again…

But hear this… Morning person or no morning person… Nothing… and NO ONE is going to TOUCH my 12-hours-at-a-time-weekend-sleep-marathons.

Snooze Buttons and State Troopers

Friday’s post about my excessive “snoozing” and all of the self-professed snoozers that emerged from the closest as a result, made me want to share something I wrote nearly two years ago. And while (as of this writing) I have not been pulled over in a LONG time (knock on wood)… Clearly the snoozing problem has not subsided.

September 2009

OK. It’s official. I’m getting pulled over WAAAY too many times! I’ve been pulled over 3 times now since May. Now, is it me, or is that a wee-bit excessive? Perhaps I REALLY need to try getting out of bed sooner instead of hitting the snooze button so many times that I end up running late for work and speeding the whole way.

I am no longer paranoid that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road so that everyone can see what a loser I am… either for speeding or for getting caught… I am now CERTAIN that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is definitely going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road and dig for my license, registration and insurance.

In May it was for “not sufficiently stopping at a red light” and I was lucky enough to get off with a warning… something my sister still has not forgiven me for since she was once ticketed by the same officer for a lesser offense.

In June I was stopped for doing 59 in a 45… and the State Highway Patrolman clocked me just YARDS away from the 55 MPH road sign. I thought it was 55… really, I did. He ticketed me to the tune of $125… OUCH. But I paid it, and vowed to not get caught speeding again! I couldn’t afford it!

Notice I said: not get CAUGHT speeding again. I did NOT say: NOT SPEED. And so… here we are 3 months later and I guess the sting in my wallet has sufficiently dulled just enough to let my foot grow a little bit heavier and my guard drop just enough that I didn’t even notice the State Trooper’s car peeking out of the cornfield until I was half-way through the school zone.

I slow WAAAAAAY down, maybe he didn’t see me. I pass him going about 5 miles an hour… and watch out of my rearview. For a merciful second he does not budge… but then he pulls out. I watch his lights… nothing. I am now going 25 in a 55… maybe he’s just moving on down the road, or going somewhere for a coffee and a donut. Oh crap! There go the lights. This cannot be happening AGAIN!?!?! #@$%!

I wasn’t going THAT fast. I had slowed from 60 MPH to 35 MPH in that 20 MPH school zone. How bad can THAT be?! And it wasn’t as if it was a grade school either, where kids could spontaneously dart out at any second from behind the bushes. It was a high school out in the middle of a cornfield. Surely this is not ticket-worthy. Oh, but he’s going to run my plates and see that I was pulled over 2 other times in the last 5 months.

I am so screwed.

For the first time in my life, I find myself pleading with a cop NOT to give me a ticket. I can’t even stand the idea of becoming one of THOSE girls who tries whining to get out of a ticket, but I CANNOT afford another $100+ ticket!! So… as I’m tossing napkins and CD cases and car manuals out of the glove box, rummaging to find my registration I decide to go for it… I’m going to whine… Here goes… “Officer…” looking up at him with the saddest, most pathetic-without-being-over-the-top expression I can conjure up, I say… “do you HAVE to give me a ticket?” and I hand him my license and registration.

He takes my license and registration and says: “I’ll run your license and if it’s clean, I’ll let you off with a warning.”

I am so screwed.

He’s going to see those other 2 offences I just know it. How could he not?!? Surely it’s in some HUGE database somewhere, along with my other civic sins: The fact that I don’t always recycle. And I don’t always clean up after the dog when she poops in the neighbor’s yard. Now I’ll probably not only owe money for a ticket… but my insurance is going to increase or I’ll get points on my license or something terrible. I am such an awful citizen. I should be put in prison. I call work. I’m going to officially be late if I’m not thrown in jail. He starts back toward my window. I’m gonna be sick. I close my eyes, grip the steering wheel and wince… wait for it. WAIT for it…

He starts to hand me paperwork… “Here’s your license and registration back. I’m just giving you a warning today. Watch your speed in those school zones. Have a good day.” OH! God BLESS you, you dear, sweet State-Trooper-Man!!! I hope Santa puts a little something extra in your stocking this Christmas. Whew! THAT was close!

I drive away saying aloud: thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!! I’ll never speed again. I promise. Hopefully this morning was the LAST time I get pulled over for a LONG, LONG, LONG time… but more importantly… my wake-up call to stop hitting the snooze and GET UP EARLIER…

As for whether or not it will work… well, I’ll have to let you know tomorrow.

Road Rage, Invisible Groundhogs and Hypocrisy

I am a self-professed tailgater. And I’m not referring to the tailgating that occurs before football games around here. I am referring to the riding-other-drivers-asses variety of tailgater.

My dad and Lee both get after me about this A LOT. As well they should. Tailgating is rude and obnoxious, not to mention dangerous. But being the extremely impatient narcissist that I am… I just can’t seem to help myself. I can start out on a trip with the best of intentions and before I know it, I’ve memorized every scratch, dent and ding on the bumper in front of me… and I’ve probably fantasized about ramming into it too.

Yesterday on the way to work I got “brake-checked” by the guy in front of me (YES, an individual I happened to be tailgating at the time) and I had to slam on my brakes because he literally STOPPED in the middle of the road. He didn’t just tap his breaks to warn me that I was beginning to annoy him… He STOPPED… In the middle of a 55 MPH zone! Now, unless he was stopping for a squirrel, cat or groundhog—that I for one did not see—he was clearly sending me the “get-off-my-ass-NOW!” message.

I am well acquainted with this form of non-verbal, vehicular communication because I am not just your garden-variety tailgater. I am what you might call a “hypocritical tailgater.” I WILL tailgate you… but don’t you DARE tailgate me… or I WILL brake-check you until you get the message.

I feel it also worth mentioning that the guy who brake-checked me today was also a hypocritical tailgater because after he slammed on his brakes for me and resumed his speed… he practically crawled up the tailpipe of the guy in front of him. I must have been in a fairly decent mood because after re-securing all of my belongings back into the passenger seat from the floor to which they had fallen at the time of the aforementioned brake-check incident… I laughed. HARD.

I just laughed and laughed and backed the hell off. I got his message LOUD AND CLEAR. And maybe, just maybe, I secretly hoped that the driver whose tailpipe the break-checking-hypocritical-tailgater was currently sucking on would also stop suddenly in the middle of the road for an invisible squirrel, cat or groundhog… and well, you know the rest.

Mornin’ Sunshine

Yesterday morning I got stuck behind this ridiculously-slow-moving truck on the way to work and was so frustrated I could spit nails. I HATE slow-moving traffic. I LOATHE slow-moving traffic. I have no patience and no tolerance for it. In fact, one day it is probably going to cause me to stroke out behind the wheel. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.

I know I’ve said it before, but I firmly believe that anyone who is going to drive under the legally posted speed limit should restrict their travel to between midnight and 4 a.m. That way they are less likely to interfere with people who ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE SOMEWHERE… And quite frankly they will annoy fewer people. If they cannot adhere to the midnight and 4 a.m. rule, then the absolute least they could do is not travel between the hours of 5 a.m.- 9 a.m. Is this too much to ask?

However, since these restrictions are not yet LAWS… there is little I can do about it except complain, fume, roll my eyes, slam my hands against the steering wheel and call the driver of said slow-moving vehicle all sorts of nasty names while performing obscene hand gestures beneath the dashboard 1. so as not to incite road rage and/or get myself killed and 2. because I haven’t got the balls to do this above the dashboard where the offending motorist might actually see and identify me. But yesterday morning was a little bit of a different story.

Because of the aforementioned ridiculously-slow-moving-truck, I had the opportunity to meet the sunrise. While trapped behind the giant snail, I began to notice the tops of the brightly-lit, green trees and golden-tassled corn. My surroundings on the road down below were all a greenish-grey… but higher up on the horizon everything was brilliant blue, green and gold. And since I now had the time to watch this lovely scene unfold in front of me… thanks to Pokey-The-Passive-Pick-Up-Driver (jerk)… I decided to enjoy it.

Gradually, as the sun rose higher and higher in the East, the color spread down through the trees, illuminating more and more of the landscape. It was like being on the inside of a blank canvas while it was being washed with color. At one point it felt like I was driving through a glowing green tunnel as tall, mature maples guarded both sides of the highway. It was stunning. Little by little everything sprang to life as a promising new day began!

And before I knew it, I had stopped screaming, put both hands back on the wheel and forgotten ALL about the sluggish vehicle in front of me—probably because by now I had run it off the road and it was lying upside down in a ditch, wheels still spinning—but that’s another story for another day.

So, I would just like to close by saying: I guess there really IS some validity to the statement: “Take time to enjoy the scenery.” I would just prefer to enjoy the scenery… while traveling at least 65 miles per hour.

The Woman Inside My Phone

I hate the woman who lives in my phone. You most likely know her, as she is probably the same one that lives in YOUR phone. She tells you what to do and often her instructions are wrong. She misunderstands your voice and touch commands constantly and sometimes cuts you off when you’re in the middle of leaving a message. Like she thinks she knows when I’m done talking? Who the hell does she think she is?

She is also an easy target for the role of scapegoat whenever my phone pisses me off for any reason. If I have a bad signal, no signal, bad reception (whether on my end or the other person’s), a low battery or God forbid—a dropped call—it is all her fault. And I tell her so. Usually really loudly. And my hatred for her grows.

My drive home from work is riddled with shitty and spotty cell reception. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation and… GONE. The call has ended. Abruptly. And usually at a really crucial or pivotal point too. There are at least 4 places that I KNOW a call will drop. I can predict with almost 95% accuracy when this will happen but for some reason that doesn’t stop me from trying to communicate with people. If I have something to say, dammit, I am going to say it! Even if it means calling back 50 times and getting dropped 49 of those times.

While I am driving—for safety sake—I do not wish to use the keypad (I’m such a good and conscientious driver) so I utilize the voice-command feature. Well, I should say that it is a safety measure for myself and the other drivers maybe… but for HER… not so much. She never gets the commands right. For example, I will clearly say: “Call Jan.” And she will reply: “Did you say: Call Ham?” <pause> “Did you say: Call Jam?” <pause> … my anger is building … “Did you say: Call Spam?” <pause> … I’m gonna lose it … “Did you say: Call Dan?”  And I snap. First of all bitch, I don’t have any friends named after food and I don’t even know anyone named Dan. To which she sweetly replies: “Please try again.”  Then she hangs up on me.

That’s when I let loose with a blue streak that could rival any sailor.

As a result of the terrible reception combined by her pure inability to UNDERSTAND ANYTHING THAT I SAAAAY… I cannot even impart to you the abuse this woman inside my phone has had to endure. Let me put it this way… If she were a real person, I’d be in prison by now.

I have been known to scream until I’ve lost my voice while raging at her. I have repeatedly smacked and poked her so HARD that her touch screen flashes all kinds of wild colors. I have thrown her. Also repeatedly. It is a miracle I have not tossed her out the sunroof and into a cornfield by now. Sometimes, after I have exhausted myself from violently cursing at her, I just leave her lying on the floorboard of my car—wherever she last landed—while the blind spots caused by my stroke-level blood pressure clear from my field of vision. I take a few deep breaths, loosen my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, crank up the radio and yell at her: We’ll try again later. After I no longer want to rip out your circuitry!”