Friday, May 25, 2012

Oh LA Drivers, you continually surprise me. And yet, you don't, really.

Curb Sneakers*--we've all encountered them. They're the sneaky bastards that pull up alongside of you on the right, presumably to make a right turn. Then, when the light turns green, they floor it to cut in ahead of you.  I'm usually wary of any car on my right, even when the lane is clearly marked "right turn only." (I'm looking at you, intersection of Beverly Blvd and Wilton Place)  Depending on my mood, I'll either floor it and make sure they can't cut in front of me, or I'll hang back and let them go. 

This morning, while sitting at the light at Sunset and Gower, a woman pulled up next to me on the right. There was a horn beeping, but since I was at a red light and not doing anything beep worthy, I ignored it.  Finally, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.  I looked over and the woman to my right was waving at me.  I opened my window.  "I'm really late for work. Can I cut in front of you?" she asked.  So many responses crowded my brain looking for expression.  "Lady, we're all late for work."  "Is one car length going to make a difference?"  "You're late, so you're taking Sunset Blvd??"  "Do I look like a poky driver?" "What?? You're asking permission???"  Instead, I just waved her on.  The light turned green and she took off like a shot.

I noticed her zooming ahead, weaving in and out of the middle and right lanes.  I couldn't help thinking of those commercials--better to lose a minute of your life than your life in a minute. Maybe the work she was late for was something, like, heart surgeon and there was a patient waiting for her. I hope she made it all right. I'm still a little taken aback by her asking permission.  I guess manners aren't dead after all.

*Credit where credit is due:  I first heard this term from Dan Novy. I'm not sure if he coined it, but it makes me laugh and I use it liberally.  Thanks, Dan.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Whimsically Dark

Deb over at San Diego Momma challenged us to write a short story inspired by this photo, using the word "empty."  This is very first drafty and totally unedited.  Be nice to me.

This scene reminds me of Delaware Water Gap, and makes me kind of homesick.

Kerri took several deep gulping breaths and willed herself to calm down.  How long had she been sitting on the shore? Long enough for her jeans to soak through from sitting too close to the marshy edge. Long enough for the sun to raise high in the sky.  Not long enough to stop crying, however.  Her shaking hands patted her pockets for a pack of cigarettes, which she left on the coffee table of the now empty house over on Jefferson Island.  Suddenly she remembered all the other things she left on Jefferson Island--her purse, her clothes, HIS clothes, and everything else that tied her to that life.  “Fuck! I have to go back,” she thought.  She wiped the tears, which seemed to flood steadily down her cheeks, and stood. 

She walked back to the canoe, the squishy shoreline sucking at her Keds®, and climbed in. Kerri hated the double-sided oar that her husband bought late last summer after he accidentally lost one while fishing. “What’s wrong with two oars?” she thought.  “It’s not a kayak, dumb ass.”  Slowly, she made her way back to the island, thanking God it was still early enough in the season that hardly any of the summer residents were in yet.  Most of those homes were on the far side of the island anyway.  There was Mr. Myles, who was a year-round resident, but his house was set up far enough back from the shore that unless he was really watching the river, he wouldn’t notice her coming.  She decided to skirt the shore until just across from her house, just in case he was really watching the river.  This meant rowing upstream, but the river was fairly calm in this section and the rowing was not difficult.  This also meant she’d avoid passing over Charles, who by now should have hit the bottom.  “I should have weighted him.  He’s big, but even fat guys float.”  She said a silent prayer that by the time Charles surfaced, she’d be long gone. It was hard enough getting him in the canoe and then subsequently out of the canoe.  The extra weight would have been too much.

“By the shores of Gitche Gumee,” she said to no one. “by the shining Big-Sea-Water.”  She giggled to herself; in her head, she heard Bugs Bunny reciting these lines.  She searched her brain for the rest of the poem. “Daughter of the moon, Nokomis….aw, screw you, Longfellow.”  Kerri’s breathing had returned to normal.  She sighed deeply and began mentally preparing for the days ahead, the trip back to the city by Greyhound (must leave Charles’s keys behind), the new ID, the flight, and a thousand other details.  Lists were good. Lists were calming.  Soon, she began to sing, “She’s the daughter of Rosie O’Grady. A regular old-fashioned girl.”   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Burning Ring of Fire

Has anyone else been having one of those weeks?  I swear I have not been on time once all week. Nor have I left the office at a decent hour, except on Thursday when I left at 6:40 to go to the Farmer's Market for knitting.  And this week was Jeopardy's Power Players Week.  I've missed all the good match-ups. If I leave right now, I might get home in time to see Anderson Cooper play. Maybe he'll have a giggle fit again.

Yesterday, as I was driving up my street, I accidentally bumped side mirrors with a parked car.  I stopped and did the right thing--left a note. But, sheesh, what a great way to start the day.  

Anyway, I'm really just stopping in here to remind everyone in the California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and southern Utah areas to look for the Annular Eclipse on Sunday.  It's known as a "ring of fire" because of the appearance.

Los Angeles will not get the full effect as in the photo, but we should see the sun covered about 85%. Other parts of the United States will see a partial eclipse of much smaller proportions.  The maximum eclipse will occur around 6:38pm, but it starts at 5:24 and ends around 7:40.  Here's a great LA Times article telling you the best ways to view the eclipse.  

Why is this so exciting?  Well, we don't get to see many eclipses here in So Cal, particularly one with this much coverage.  Head to a higher elevation for the best view and have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Very superstitious

Last night, on the way from my car to my house, a black cat ran out from somewhere near my porch, paused in the middle of the street, and then disappeared by the police garage.  I kept walking.  As I climbed the stairs to my porch, I heard a meow behind me and turned to find little black cat sitting on the sidewalk staring at me.  "Hello, Kitten," I said.  He came closer.  "What are you up to?" I inquired as I opened the front door.  The cat came up the walk to my porch and started to climb up.  

"Sorry, Kitten," I said. "I have allergies and asthma. I can't invite you in."  He paused with his front paws on the bottom step, and peered past me up the stairs to my apartment.  He sure was a pretty cat, but I guess he understood because he meowed one more time, turned, and ran back across the street to the police station.  So far, my luck has not changed.

In my head I named him Pyewacket, even though I know Pye was a siamese cat.

Apropos of nothing, except that I laughed a little too much over this:

Friday, May 04, 2012

Be excellent to each other

We had a co-worker named David, who was in charge of inventory and supplies.  He was funny, snarky, kind-hearted, generous, and at times, a huge pain in the ass.  But you couldn't really be mad at David, because everything he did, he did for the good of the company.  If he hassled you about spending, it was because he wanted us to have more money to spend on the kids.  If he was a pain about purchasing, it was because he wanted you to be a better shopper and look for deals.  David didn't beat around the bush, either. He was blunt but fair.  He'd shake his head at those of us who'd bicker in the hallways.  "Feel the love," he said, sarcastically.

He also supplied the entire office with snacks, even though he didn't eat them.  There were always chips-- Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles--soda pop, cereal and milk, the occasional fruit, and once a month or so, donuts.  We joked that David was fattening us up for the Zombie apocalypse, to ensure that he was faster than the rest of us. If David knew you liked a certain food, he'd make sure to pick some up. There was always a box of Froot Loops for D. And every October, throughout the whole month, I'd come to work to find mystery bags of candy corn on my desk, as if the Candy Corn Fairy had visited in the night.  I love me some candy corn and David knew it.  He brought us movie passes and shared DVDs. He cooked the turkey for our staff Thanksgiving, and baked the richest chocolate cake ever--it required at least two glasses of milk.

On Wednesday, in the middle of a meeting, David collapsed.  The staff administered CPR, the paramedics did what they could, but David passed away.  He had been sick for some time, although you'd never have known it because he never complained or acted sick. He truly believed in the work we do, the benefit our students derive from the programs we have, and the people here who work make it all happen.  He loved us and we loved him.  And now, we miss him terribly. 

Yesterday, as we all tried to come to grips with our loss, we talked about the last conversation we had with him, and every one of us ended on a positive note. So, that's what we're taking away from this tragedy.  End your conversations on a positive note. And feel the love.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Breathe deep the gathering gloom

It's one of those mornings where you wake up all cozy and snug, the room is still dark, and you can just feel the gloom outside without even looking at the window. Days like this remind of one thing--"Nights in White Satin." 

Deb over at San Diego Momma prompted us to write about the songs that defined our life, and I wasn't going to do it because I couldn't think of anything. The Moody Blues changed that.  Rainy days remind me of "Nights in White Satin" because when I was growing up back in Pennsyltucky, the local rock radio station seemed to always play this song on cold, wet mornings. Whenever I hear this song, I am immediately taken back to my old bedroom--the purple bedspread, my sister's tidy side of the room and my not-so-tidy side--and listening to my brother's radio from across the hall while burying myself deeper under the covers to prolong the morning. Sometimes, I'm transported even further back to when I was sick and Mom would let me sleep in her bed all day listening to the clock radio.  But always, I think of cold gray mornings.

I've always thought the song was kind of depressing, but I also find it comforting, like a big fluffy blanket. So, when the rain is falling and I'm driving to work, the first thing I do (after turning on the lights and buckling up) is search the iPod for some Moody Blues.  And the rest of the day takes care of itself. 

Rain on the windshield and "Nights in White Satin" on the iPod.  All is right in the world.