You know how they say when you’re in danger, everything
becomes really clear? Well, I can attest
to that now. And that “it all happened
so fast” statement is also true. This
morning, while driving to work in all the leftover slush and snow, on
badly-plowed roads, I did something I’d never done before, and honestly, it all happened so fast I’m
not 100% sure how it happened. The
entire incident, start to finish, took about 30 seconds.
Anyway – there I was…driving to work, on a road I travel
every day. On a good day, the speed
limit on that road is 40 (maybe 45, I can’t remember right now) mph. I was going maybe 30 mph, tops. Like I
said, the roads were pretty sloppy and I’m pretty careful. I think I hit a pothole (that, of course, I
couldn't see because it was covered with the slushy mess) and suddenly the back
end of my car is slowly spinning around like it’s trying to do-si-do with the front end of my
I took my foot off the accelerator, left the brake pedal
alone and I remember clearly thinking, “Steer into the skid, steer into the skid”
– trying to recall my driver’s education training. And then it was over. I was facing the wrong direction completely
stopped in the median.
In my next moment
of clarity I thought, “Threat assessment!
Where are you?” I looked up and
took note that this normally busy road was completely and totally empty. There was not another driver to be seen and I
was on one of the straight-away stretches!
What luck! If this had happened
on any regular morning (which I doubt it would have) the danger at that point
would have been getting tagged by another car.
I thought, “If I’m not actually stuck here (which was a distinct
possibility), I should be able to reverse and get myself out of here.” And that’s exactly what I did. I popped it into reverse, tapped on the gas
and my car responded right away. I turned
around the right way and continued on to work; myself and my car no worse for
the wear. I was shaken up, yes – but totally
unharmed. And yes, I still had a cup of
coffee when I got to work.
This little incident isn’t going to deter me from driving to
work in similar conditions, though admittedly, it might have if this had
happened ten years ago. I know now, in a
situation like that, I can keep my cool and not flip out.
I shall dye my hair
some obnoxious color, give it a tight perm and start wearing rhinestone-studded
spectacles. Or maybe allow my hair to go
fully gray, and grow it out long enough to wear in a thick braid down my back.
I shall wear flowing, bohemian skirts and weigh my neck down with lots of necklaces – at
least one of which must have huge hunks of raw turquoise.
I shall turn the
storage building in the back yard into my personal workshop where I shall make
beauty products from natural ingredients, beaded jewelry and handmade greeting
I shall keep bees,
collect their raw honey and sell beautiful, golden jars of the stuff at a
I shall read Jack
Kerouac, write haunting poetry, stay inside on a Thursday simply because it’s
I shall have a cat
and never name it because cats don’t come when they’re called so it doesn't really matter if they have a name.
I shall have a basset
hound and name him Arthur.
I shall become
comfortable using a typewriter instead of a computer and foster several false
starts at writing the great American novel – or at least a book of passable poetry,
thoughts and observations.
I shall live in an
old Victorian home where the peeling wallpaper only adds to its charm.
I shall have a
personal library and walk into it every day simply to inhale deeply and breathe in the scent of the volumes I've collected.
I shall turn my home
into a bed and breakfast, fill the guest rooms with antiques and local artwork
and the bathrooms with my homemade beauty products.
I shall kneel in the
garden caring not one whit about the dirt on my knees or under my fingernails
and wear a large, floppy hat to combat the sun and wrinkles.
I shall send my children baskets filled with love and my grandchildren shall receive pieces of ribbon and
buttons and other leavings and findings with instructions to make something
beautiful for me to hang on my refrigerator.
I shall help my
husband tie his neckties when he deems the occasion fit to wear one and, with
pleasure, listen to him sing to himself when he doesn't think anyone else is
I shall smile secretly
to myself at some half-remembered dream.
I shall feed the birds
all year long and rise early to catch worms.
I shall paint my
toenails simply because it makes me happy and then wear boots so no one can see
what color I've chosen; it shall be my little secret.
All these things I
shall do because I shall have no qualms at showing my age or eccentricity – though perhaps
I shall begin today so my new penchant for flowing skirts and dirty fingernails doesn't come as a surprise to anyone tomorrow.
First, I must win the
NOTE: All this brings to mind Jenny Joseph’s poem, Warning. I didn't realize it until after I’d written
everything above how similar they are in some respects – but as a matter of
note, I, in no way, intend to copy or reproduce her work or her style. My style is my own, and so is my work. I simply note here the similarities.
It’s one of those times when, because it’s all around me –
physically manifested on the ground, talked about on the news, the topic of most conversations around
the old water cooler – it’s kind of hard to get it out of my head. So, since Mother Nature is still on a snow
kick, so, too, apparently, am I.
My brother contacted me after my post the other day regarding
throwing snowballs at memories and said that he remembered that particular
incident and further stated (sorry bro…spillin’ your secrets here) that it was
not the only time he’d engaged in that particular activity. He further stated he was pretty certain it
was the only time that he managed to convince me to engage in it, too. I was right in remembering I was not the one
to come up with the harebrained idea.
All of this – everything from the weather itself to remembering
my brother’s goofball idea of fun – got me thinking about other winter
activities I engaged in while I was young.
I used to walk outside (and still do, sometimes) barefooted…in
the snow…just to see what it felt like. It’s
a quick, shocking cold, but not an altogether unpleasant one. And the snow feels good. It is kind of like very cold sand between your toes. One observation is that flash-frozen toes
actually warm up rather quickly.
I remember the snow-blower my father used to clear our
driveway, sidewalks and paths. A big, loud,
red, spinning, monster machine that ate up the snow and spit it out in a
cyclonic fury leaving giant piles of snow in its wake. My brother and I used to dig tunnels and
forts in those piles and line them with black, plastic trash bags for insulation. We’d be absolutely
frozen, but we had a ball. The best part
was when we finally made two opposing tunnels connect. It was like discovering a treasure.
I remember making orange snow slush (no, not yellow snow – getcher mind right) and
eating it with a long-handled, stainless steel spoon. We’d get plastic cups and fill them – packed tight
– with freshly fallen snow. It had to be
fresh or it was of questionable edibility.
Then, we’d pour orange juice on top and marvel at how the concoction
would stick to the stainless steel spoon.
I remember a back yard full of snow angels, footprints
(child and dog), and thickly reinforced fort walls used for shelter during
I remember the entire neighborhood - all the local kids - gathering at the elementary school down the street for sledding. Hours and hours of hauling our various sledding implements of choice up hill and whizzing down, again and again and again until no amount of hot chocolate, no fire too hot, no clothes or homes too warm could thaw our frozen, elated bodies.
Snow now, as an adult, is so much different. I wish I still could enjoy it with the
innocence and enthusiasm of a child – of my children – but mostly it just
annoys me now. Oh, it’s beautiful to
look at, don’t get me wrong, but all the things that it are affected by it (school/business/bank
closings, bad roads, sketchy driving conditions, power outages, frozen pipes) that
interfere with adult life have taken some of the magic out of a good snowfall. I need to remember now, when my kids want me to
play outside with them in the snow, that it’s not about me anymore. Who cares if I no longer own any waterproof winter
boots, snow-pants or gloves? I’m from
North; I’m made of stronger stuff than that.
Come on…gimme whatcha got. (Wait,
actually, don’t. I’m kinda done.)
YOU, SIR, ARE A BOIL ON THE BUTT OF SOCIETY!
YOU HAVE NO IMAGINATION AND NO ABILITY TO DO THIS JOB AND I, FOR ONE,
THINK YOU SHOULD BE FIRED! SINCE I HAVE
NO AUTHORITY IN THAT MATTER THE ONLY OTHER THING I CAN DO IS YELL AT YOU AND
TELL YOU WHAT I THINK OF YOU AND YOUR STUPIDITY! I AM RIGHT AND YOU, SIR, ARE WRONG! I THUMB MY NOSE IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION AND
WISH TO DISASSOCIATE MYSELF WITH YOU ENTIRELY!
Picture, if you will, an email exchange between two
individuals engaged in an electronic argument.
(I shall not make something up here because my ability to argue successfully
extends really only to myself – I tend argue with myself a lot – and to very
few others. Needless to say, debate
class in high school was not my very favorite thing. Though some would say I live to argue, this
is simply not the case.) These two
individuals have allowed their virtual disagreement to escalate to a point
where one user (let’s call him USER 1) has finally lost his ability to reason effectively
and has resorted TO SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS in order to make his point. The other user (let’s call him USER 2), upon
receiving the SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS, sits back in his chair feeling defeated and
thinks: “Well! You don’t have to yell at me!” Followed
by some choice words (fiercely unspoken) directed at USER 1.
Imagine, now, this same exchange – however long it may have
been – in person. Two people, standing
nose to nose, both red-faced and obviously ticked off, each about a stones-throw
away from coming to blows. To the
outsider, it is apparent one individual of this duo is the instigator and the
other is simply doing his best to hold his ground and not allow himself to be
bullied. Both are furious with one
another. Both believe they are right and the other is
wrong. The shouting is disruptive to
others around them both in a way that disallows these others to be productive
employees and in a way that makes these others truly uncomfortable. It could be that a few of these others are
interested in this heated exchange in the same way a passer-by might be interested
in a train wreck, but for the most part, people have scattered to other parts
of the building to attend to suddenly urgent duties elsewhere. This argument culminates in one person
finally blowing his top and shouting, “YOU’RE WRONG! YOU’RE JUST WRONG! YOU’RE STUPID, YOU DON’T KNOW THE PRODUCT OR
THE CUSTOMER BASE AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!!” Whereupon hearing this, the other individual
deflates, says something quietly to the shouter which witnesses can’t really
make out, and slinks off to lick his wounds.
Does the “winner” of either argument actually win? Or is that person simply better able to argue
some point or another and, possibly, better at wearing down his opponent? Does it make the “loser” less right, or his
argument less sound? Granted, it will
depend a lot on the actual argument and since I did not see fit to imagine one
for you we’ll really never know.
But…what does all this
have to do with SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS?
In my most humble of opinions, using SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS
in an electronic exchange is, quite simply, unacceptable. I tend to use capital letters if I am trying
to place emphasis on a word or phrase that underlining or italicizing will not draw adequate
attention to. But in those cases, it is usually
very obvious that I am NOT shouting.
I read a story once (well, actually, if I’m being honest I’ve
read this particular story multiple times) about a group of Solomon Islanders
who had an ancient practice of felling trees by yelling at them. (All I
Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum - http://www.robertfulghum.com/) The theory behind this practice was that yelling
killed the spirit of the tree and so it died and fell over.
I believe that being yelled at does, indeed, kill one’s
spirit. Especially if one is yelled at
often and for an extended period of time.
To make one cower before you by the very act of yelling – out of anger,
frustration, intent or intensity of feeling – is a lowly act and one that only
makes you a bully. Yes, there are
absolutely reasons why yelling, on occasion, is warranted; but only on occasion. If you go around yelling at people all the
time, will you have any friends? Will
anyone truly love you and will you be able to truly love? Will anyone respect you? Listen to you? Act on your words or simply ignore you?
Ending an argument by so thoroughly defeating your opponent
is akin to abuse and yes, in some cases, even murder. Do you really wish to kill someone’s spirit
by yelling at them? I believe there are
much better ways to win an argument and that, my friends, requires finesse, an
adequate understanding of, and ability to use, the English language, and a
genuine desire to make your point without completely steamrolling your opponent.
All this snow and
ice and wind and all the school closings and being around my kids,
watching them react to everything, has brought me back, time and time
again, to childhood and growing up in the North. This morning, while
listening to Pandora and Depeche Mode Radio (yup...still stuck on it), Pet Shop Boys were singing about West End Girls and I thought of
my younger brother. A few days ago, he'd sent me (and boy-child) an
email with a link to that song's video on YouTube. Apparently any
time my brother hears music like that he thinks of me. So just a
little while ago, when it came on Pandora, I sent him a text message
just to say hello. So, I guess you're
probably wondering (besides the obvious) what one has to do with the
other. Simply that one of my strongest memories of winter and
childhood and North is the time that my brother and I (and a couple
neighborhood kids, if I remember correctly) got it into our heads
that it was a good idea to throw snowballs at passing cars...after
dark. I don't remember who came up with the idea, and it doesn't
matter, but we had fun. For all of about one minute. One of the cars that
received a barrage of snowballs stopped short in the middle of the
street and the driver came flying out – FURIOUS – and chased us
through the neighborhood. I remember being absolutely terrified that
he'd catch us and it made me sick to think about how much trouble we
would get in. I don't remember what happened to the other
kids we were with, but I vaguely recall hiding in the bushes until
the very angry driver man went away. It's all kind of a blur,
actually. But my brother and I made it home safe and sound. I don't really
remember if our parents ever found out about that and I suppose, all
these years later, it doesn't make any difference. The things we do
as kids define us, in some way, as adults and I am sure,
beyond a doubt, that was the first time I ever feared
being caught for doing something I knew, deep down, probably wasn't a
good idea. Which is probably why I never got into too much trouble
growing up and in teenage years, and in my young adult life. Fear. Oh,
believe me, I had plenty of opportunities to get into a TON of
trouble, but somehow I managed to keep myself together and stay out
of it. I'm lucky. My life could have turned out so differently if
I'd been even slightly less
fearful of things. It's
interesting to me that as an adult I've shed a lot of my old fears
and, in some cases, formed brand new ones; especially where my
children are concerned. I fear for their health, well-being and
safety more than anything else. It's the reason I get so upset when
boy-child does something downright stupid and risks his own safety.
I know, I know, boys do stupid things and at some point all of my
fear for his safety and well-being isn't going to amount to a hill of
beans and yes, he's going to have to learn his own lessons. But
maybe, just maybe, while he's still young, I can instill some
awareness in him that will protect him in some way when he's older? I
don't know. I'm sure he'll have his own
moment, but hopefully it will only serve to make him a better, more
thoughtful person. I still haven't quite figured out what it did to
I am, unfortunately, one of the myriad humans prone to
headaches. Granted, since giving up soda
my headaches occur less frequently than they used to, but I do still get
them. And boy, today’s headache is turning
out to be a doozy. I’m pretty sure it’s
weather related, but so far three Tylenol and two cups of Death Wish Coffee
haven’t touched it. It’s ratcheting up
and is beginning to affect my vision, which ticks me off to no end.
Mostly, beside the pain of a headache, it’s all the other things that go along with the vice
grip on my gray matter which irritate me the most. Light sensitivity, for example. Years ago, I had an infection in my left eye which,
after all was said and done, left me hyper-sensitive to light. At first they thought it was pink eye, but when
the treatment they were giving me only seemed to make things worse, they looked
elsewhere and came up with Endophthalmitis.
Don’t ask me to pronounce it. It
was no picnic, I can tell you. But after
visiting the eye doctor every other day for about three months, losing 70% of
the vision in my left eye, hearing the panic in my parents’ and doctors’ voices
over concern for my continued ability to see, the infection petered out. I was left with hyper-sensitivity to light
and, at least for a few months afterward, had to wear these stupid blue-tinted
glasses that (from what I recall) were supposed to filter out a particular kind
of light. (I’m no doctor, and I’ve
probably forgotten a lot about this whole incident because honestly…? It was terrifying and therefore I have conveniently
blocked a lot of it out.)
All that being said, it’s part of the reason that the
continued light sensitivity issues I’ve carried with me since that infection
are so irritating when a killer headache invades. Also, when the headaches are at their peak,
there is sensitivity to smell, sound, touch…
Basically, anything except a dark room and sleep, and even then
sometimes the bed sheets are annoying.
I also get ophthalmic migraines which are these strange, pulsing, geometric sort of things (an aura, they call them) that begin in the
left side of my field of vision and flash through the front of my vision,
eventually fading out. They’re painless,
generally, though afterward I am usually exhausted and so must sleep for a bit. These are much less frequent than the regular
old painful migraines, but they’re so odd I must include them.
I know that many of you, my loyal readers, are sufferers,
too – and some are not. It’s hard to
explain to people who don’t get migraines how debilitating they really can be. Frequently I find that when trying to talk to
a non-sufferer they can be less than sympathetic, bordering on rude or openly
unfeeling. Just take a pain killer, is usually their response. At that point, even bothering to try to explain
that painkillers don’t always do the trick is simply worthless.
Jen…do you have a
Not really, I guess.
It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever written about what it is to
suffer from these headaches and supposed that there would be a few of you out
there who might be able to commiserate with me.
Plus, this blog is a lot about sharing my experiences and thoughts on
things both normal and nonsensical so….why can’t I write about headaches?
Plus, I like the title of this post. It suits my appreciation for all things weird.
About 2:30 PM, just about every day whilst at my humble
place of employment, the cravings begin.
Well, I’m not sure the word “cravings”
is exactly the right way to describe it, but let’s just roll with it, shall
Anyway, the first nearly overwhelming craving is for a
toothbrush and toothpaste. It doesn’t matter
what foods or beverages I have taken in during the course of the early part of
the day, but by 2:30 PM my teeth feel fuzzy and a good brushing is about all that’s
stopping me from taking another step or two toward insanity.
The second craving is for another cup of coffee. You heard me.
It’s not like I haven’t already had two or three cups in the morning – but after about 10:00 AM I tend
to slack off in the Coffee Department as things have usually picked up in the
Busy Department. Both departments are
necessary, yet they’re very far removed from one another and typically, the
employees (liquid and paper) don’t get along well together. (You like that analogy?) But by 2:30 PM the desire for another cup is
The thing is, though both cravings are nearly impossible to
ignore, coffee is always going to
Eeew, Jen! That’s gross!
Just brush your teeth, for goodness sake!
No! Hear me out, will ya?
Fine. This had better be good.
The reason coffee is always
going to win is, well…have you ever tasted
coffee, even really super amazingly awesome coffee, after having just
brushed your teeth? It’s terrible! I’m a coffee purist. No milk.
No sugar. Just the good old
strong black stuff. But even the good
old strong black stuff tastes awful after a good tooth brushing. It’s akin to drinking orange juice after
brushing your teeth. ICK.
OK. I have to admit it…that’s a pretty good
reason. But still, fuzzy teeth?
Yeah – I know. Fuzzy teeth are gross. But do you want to hear my solution?
I know you’re going to tell me anyway.
I brush my teeth after
drinking my coffee. It’s still kinda
gross, but not as awful as it would be if I’d brushed beforehand.
See? I’m clever like
At least I’m not sitting at work at two or three o’clock in
the afternoon craving chocolate cake.
As most of you probably have figured out, I love sleep just
about as much as I love coffee. Sleep,
however, is becoming more and more elusive for me and I must say: I really don’t
like it. (Hubby would probably be making
comments here right now about snoring and stealing covers, but he rarely reads
my blog so, whatever. It’s funny, the
person I most want to read my blog…doesn’t.
I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t care, he just doesn’t want to take
the time to read all these words. It is
the same with when I’m telling him something face to face; there comes a point
in any conversation where I can see
he’s tuned me out and isn’t really listening anymore. It’s OK.
I’m pretty sure it’s a guy thing.)
Anyway – back to sleep.
Or, more accurately, the lack of it.
So the other night it was about 11:30 and I had put away
Netflix for the evening because I felt it was in my best interest to attempt a
few hours of sleep in order to be fully prepared for work the next day. (This would have been Sunday night, I
believe.) Here’s how that went:
Hm…I’ve never noticed
that red light before, I wonder what that is...?
What time is it?
up. Pound pillow in frustration. Adjust, adjust. Sigh.
Blink, blink. That street light is awfully bright. I really need to get some black out curtains.
Hm…I wonder what time it is?
Crap. Am I gonna do this all night?
adjust. I think I might need a snack.
No, you don’t
need a snack, dummy! It’s almost
midnight and you’re counting calories.
NO! Stay where you are…I’m warning you!
But…can’t I just
go look in the fridge?
Oh, for heaven’s sake!
POUND POUND! Crap! Did I just wake up hubby?
This, essentially, went on in a similar form or fashion
until about 2:30 AM when my exhausted brain and body finally gave in to that
elusive thing called sleep. I woke at 5:15 AM to take my thyroid
medicine (as I always do), fully expecting to sleep another 30-45 minutes (as I
always do) but NO-OOO! I was awake now. Not as in simply not asleep anymore. I was A-W-A-K-E!
So, going back to the Netflix thing. It seems to be that the more occupied my
brain is with other things the less likely I am to sleep. I try to numb my brain into submission by
occupying it with something else, like reading (which doesn’t work as well as
it used to) or, now, Netflix or Amazon Prime movies and TV shows. If I’m watching a movie, I choose something I’ve
seen so that I might grow bored earlier and drift off to the Land of Nod
without missing something exciting, or, at the very least interesting. If I’m watching a TV show, it’s harder
because if the show is good, I want to binge watch and immediately move right
on to the next episode, and the next, and the next, and before I know it it’s
Reading used to help a lot.
I’d get into a book and, regardless of how good the book was, I’d
eventually get to a point where I realized I was reading the same sentence over
and over and over again. I’m off reading
right now, though. I haven’t found
anything lately that piques my interest and I don’t want to re-read any of my
old standbys. I guess I’m in a Reading
I know there are a bazillion tricks that people all over the
world have to help one sleep. Counting
sheep, sleeping on your left side instead of your right, changing your pillow, adding
a pillow, removing a pillow, turning down the house temperature, meditating (something
I’ve NEVER been good at, though I’ve tried hundreds of times), warm milk (ick),
warm bath… The list goes on and on.
Counting sheep bores me.
I already sleep on my left side.
I switch out my pillow situation about every other night. Hubby keeps the house temp at 67° at night anyway, which is
either too cold, or too warm. And that’s
another thing, I’m usually TOO WARM. But
if I kick off the covers, then I’m too cold.
If I cover up, and kick one foot/leg out that helps, but then when I
turn over I get all woozled (yes, woozled) up and I have to start all over
I won’t bore you with more.
I’m sure, if you’re human (and possibly a female human in her forties) you’ve
been through this. I envy those who can
put their head on a pillow and be out like a light in about thirty seconds
(ahem…girl-child!). My friend, Scoop,
can put his head down, be asleep in about thirty seconds, sleep hard for like
five minutes, and wake up completely refreshed and ready to go. I’ve never understood folks like that.
Anyway – wish me luck.
This time, it’s been about a week since I’ve slept through the
night. Not taking into account the night
when I took some cold medicine and was down for the count. That’s medicated sleep, which I do not
recommend as a viable alternative to the real thing.
So, an ice storm blew through here yesterday and left about a quarter inch of ice on my car and about 2 inches of it on the road. My car doors are frozen shut. Thank goodness I have already communicated with my boss, because it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere any time soon.
We're lucky where we are, though; we didn't lose power. Tananda, who lives just south of us, hasn't had power since about 10:30 last night. She says thanks to camping gear, at least there is coffee. She even covered the cold cat with her Jack Daniels t-shirt. Now that, my dear readers, is luv.
The big road in front of my house has been plowed, but it still looks treacherous. I have a vague inclination that I will be working quite a bit extra this week to make up for time lost. Hubby says there's really no sense in trying to chip away at the external ice on the car, but I dislike being away from work when I should be there and there is stuff to do, so I'm feeling very unsettled.
Kiddos are thrilled with the time off, though. They were both completely entranced by the falling sky icicles yesterday and boy-child kept commenting on how many inches he thought had accumulated. (I think I may have a little weather man in the making...along with a master gardener, an architect, and an environmental scientist.)
Anyway, I suppose now that it's nearly 10:00 in the morning, I need to figure out some way of getting to the office because I know at least one other person is there, so therefore the roads in must be passable. I shall leave you now and attempt to make myself presentable for what is ahead of me today.
Here's hoping, if you're local, that you're not suffering too much. I think about all my friends and family up North who have not just a quarter inch of ice and a lot of yucky roads, but feet and feet of heavy snow, with the threat of more to come. (sigh) I dislike Winter.