Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chaos Abounds: Part Two

For the very first time, Elvis, my greyhound has jumped on my bed. And I’m delighted, because unlike those owners who are always trying to push their hairy, stinky dogs off their beds and sofas, I wish my dog would lie alongside me. I’d love to stroke his velvety ears or lumpy head while dozing off or watching TV.

But no sooner is he on the bed than he lifts his leg and – what the hey - pees on my brand new duvet! He’s never peed inside the house before! I yank him off the bed, drag him down the stairs, and as I push him outside, I notice that my backyard looks different. Patio furniture has been rearranged, potted plants have been moved, and a dormant water fountain is not just running, but overflowing and flooding the patio; even my wind chimes are hanging from different locations. Huh?

Then I'm distracted by an odd sound in front of the house. So I return inside and open the front door, where I startle a shifty-looking man with a cable in his hand. Nearby, three other men are waiting for him. When I ask what they’re up to, he confesses they’re running a cable underneath my home so they can hack into my DSL and hijack my DirecTV. Then his friends push their way into my home.

In a panic, I grab my cell to dial the police. But apparently, my stupid cell is on the fritz because it keeps flashing hieroglyphics and lightening bolt-symbols on the display screen. So I use my landline to dial the operator and tell her it’s an emergency and to connect me with the police immediately. And she does so.

In San Diego.

I don’t friggin’ live in San Diego, I scream into the phone! I need the local police! And I keep trying to redial, but it’s useless because now my landline has locked up too. Meanwhile, strangers are multiplying as they invade my yard and crawl throughout every room in my home; some even sit at my kitchen table, helping themselves to a cup of coffee.

My heart is pounding so loudly and wildly, it feels like a jackhammer is about to rip right through my chest: I need the police! I need Jack Bauer! I need help and I’m gasping and panicking and can’t breathe and…

I wake up.

Elvis is snoring on the floor alongside my bed. In the golden haze of early morning sunshine, all is peaceful and quiet. Except for an odd sound: the pulsating, reverberating beat of Ricky Ricardo pounding out Babalu on his conga drums.

Oh. Wait. That’s my heart.

I try to go back to sleep, but that's pretty much a lost cause, what with Ricky in my chest and all. So I go downstairs to enjoy a soy latte and appreciate the serenity of my beautifully empty home.

And all is right and good with the world. For now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of Chaos

It's been crazy busy these past few months...sigh…and with no end in sight.

Work is always chaotic, but lately, things have kicked up a notch and I’m trying to keep my head above water, really I am. But with every breath I take, it seems I gulp a bit of water and sink a bit deeper and I’m starting to make sloppy mistakes. Little ones sure, but I swear, it’s the little ones, like dropped commas, that haunt me the most. As a marketing writer, of course they would. That’s like a surgeon leaving a sponge inside a patient, or an accountant who subtracts six from ten and gets three. But my brain is on overload and hey, it’s not a very big brain to begin with. Hear that sizzle? That's my brain. Fried.

And then I come home and pick up my mail. Every day there are reminders, so many reminders. From Kaiser: time for your annual mammogram! Time for your annual GYN! Hey, now that you’ve hit the half-a-century mark, you get to enjoy your very first colonocsopy—it’s time for that, too!

And letters from my Home Owners Association aka the Gestapo: Guess what you lucky homeowner: you are being assessed almost $1,000 because our building construction plan ran over budget and total blowhards that we are, we just took it upon ourselves to spend money we didn’t have rather than budget for it accordingly. So now each of you, the schmucks who voted us into office, owes us $1,000. Payable immediately, thank you very much.

And from Charles Schwab: remember that $140,000 you socked away for your retirement? Well, it’s now worth $62.58 and you get to retire, well, never. Sorry ‘bout that. Thank you for your business.

And my iPod died.

And did I mention my mom took a spill? Her naughty greyhound, Lucy, caught sight of a kitty and tried taking after it. But Lucy forgot that Mom was on the other end of the leash and said leash twisted around Mom’s ankles and knocked her to the ground. Pavement, of course. Nothing broke, thank God, but when you’re 72 years old, getting slapped in the face with concrete is no minor ordeal. Knees and elbows are stiff and swollen. Ribs are sore. Every step hurts. Crutches are needed. So now I’m running double-duty, driving the 20 miles round trip to walk Mom’s dogs, do her grocery shopping, run errands, prepare meals. Of which I’m more than pleased to do- I adore my mom. I just wish there were more hours in the day.

And in the meantime, the lower half of my face is still completely numb from the maxillofacial surgery I had seven months ago. My surgeon, Dr. Hottie, warned that nerve regeneration could take up to TWO years and so, I’m trying to keep the faith, and – ha – keep a stiff upper lip. But I’m not sure that anyone can truly understand how challenging it is to have a face that is completely, totally dead from the nose down. Friends swear they don’t notice any change in my speech and facial expressions and this comforts me because my face FEELS paralyzed. If you’ve ever had novacaine for a dental procedure and remember how discombobulated and weird and frozen your face felt, well, that’s mine, only ten times worse. For seven friggin’ months. Dead.

So having said all this, is it any wonder that last night I succumbed and hit the sauce? Yes, that’s right. I know it’s unhealthy and addictive and fattening, but I needed to drown my sorrows, so yes, I turned to the sauce.

Hot fudge, that is. And not the organic Chocolate Moo from Trader Joe that I enjoy sparingly once a week, but walloping servings of the ooey-gooey-million-calorie-per-teaspoon-clog-those-arteries-died-and-gone-to-heaven hot fudge. Poured in tsunami waves over two wading pool servings of mouth watering mint-chocolate chip ice cream. Oh, it was good. Evil. Delicious. Medicinal.

Because hey: a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And did I mention that its been crazy busy these past few months...sigh…and with no end in sight?

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Not-So-Fast and the Furious

There I was at the end of a long workday; sitting in my Toyota Rav4, crawling five miles per hour in that bottleneck stretch of freeway voted the sixth worst commute in the Bay Area, the infamous Highway 92 eastbound. But bad as it is, accidents are rare because traffic moves so slowly, there is usually plenty of time to react and prevent a fender bender.

Unless, that is, you happen to be the woman who was too busy yapping on her cell phone to notice that traffic had come to a dead halt; subsequently, she tapped the back fender of the car in front of her. Not hard, mind you. But enough to trigger her air bag,which exploded in her surprised face and imbedded her cell phone as a permanent earpiece.

I confess, it made me snort. Oh c’mon, who doesn’t like to see an inattentive driver get their comeuppance?

And that was me, trying to be attentive when I noticed a black Ford SUV to my right, slightly ahead, sloooowly drifting into my lane. Maybe I was in the driver’s blind spot. Maybe the driver hadn’t looked over his shoulder, maybe he hadn’t notice there wasn’t space to squeeze his behemoth vehicle into or hey, maybe he had just been discharged from a nearby clinic and was still under heavy sedation from his ice pick lobotomy.

Whatever. Said driver was about to clip the right corner of my car. Even if I braked, he would still hit me because honestly, there was NO room.

So I gave a few frantic taps on my horn. Not a loud, rude, “YouAreSuchAnIdiot” foghorn kind of blast, but a “Hey hey hey, you’re about to cause us both a pain in the neck” type of warning. Said driver heeded the horn and moved back into his lane.

Crisis averted. Or so I thought.

Because just seconds later I pulled up alongside the driver, prepared to give a little "no hard feelings" wave, and was greeted with an unexpected sight: a sweet-looking, professionally-dressed young woman, sticking her head out the window and shooting bullets with her eyes while flipping me the bird with both hands. My passenger window was rolled up so I was spared her screaming words. However, if my lip-reading skills are as good as I think they are, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t wishing me “luck.”

What the hey? She performed a careless maneuver, she almost hit me and I’m the bad guy here? And I was reminded of
an article I read that mourned the death of driver’s training as part of the high school curriculum. Most schools discontinued the program in the mid-eighties due to budget cutbacks. As a result, drivers are now getting their version of driver’s ed through games like Grand Theft Auto and movies like The Fast and the Furious. Sure, they're learning the logistics of operating a car, but is anyone teaching the importance of simple courtesies, like turn signals, hand waves, and the zipper method for merging? 900-pound vehicals are being propelled by hot-headed Road Warriors and it’s every man for himself.

And, so it seems, every woman. Even sweet-looking, professional ones.
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