I got to thinking about my good friend Hot Sauce this morning as I was getting ready for work. I wore boots today and the pair of socks I pulled out of my drawer was one she gave me a few years ago before she moved to Michigan and they were covered in wiener dogs (the socks, not my friend or Michigan).
Hot Sauce and I used to be the two single girls that worked in our division at the University, and because of that, there was a certain standard we had to live up to every weekend. More often than not, our weekends consisted of haunting an Irish pub in downtown Seattle and seeing what adventures would magically appear. There was the one time that we walked into a pajama party full of Irish and English soccer players, or the time we thought we had made a new friend with a guy only to find out he wanted to be more than friends, with both of us, at the same time. Wow, I guess whenever I think I'm at a loss for stories, I have some real "gems" I can fall back on. But one of my favorite memories of Hot Sauce is from a different night entirely.
She and I left the bar, and being the smart urban--and poorly University-employed--girls that we were, decided to forgo the cost of a cab and take the bus back to my apartment. As we stood on the bustling downtown street waiting for the number 15, carloads of guys kept driving by us honking and catcalling. At first it was flattering, but by the time the bus got there it grown quite tiresome.
After an uneventful ride, we reached our stop and had a few blocks to walk to my place. Stopped by a red light, we chatted about the night as we waited to cross the street. There was an old Cadillac in the intersection with a Rock-a-billy couple waiting to turn left. They got the arrow before we were able to cross and as they came driving by, they started to honk at us. Incredulous, both Hot Sauce and I start yapping about how people should give it a rest, we were tired of being honked at and ogled, when we realize the honking was in tune to "Shave and a Haircut." And at precisely the perfect moment, the moment when the driver should have finished his honk with two beeps, the woman in the passenger seat pulls a wiener dog out from nowhere, holds him to the window, and right on cue (and in tune) he barks out, "Two Bits."
It was so unexpected, perfect, surreal, and hilarious, that Hot Sauce and I literally fell down on the curb in laughter. The driver, the passenger, and even that wiener dog, had the biggest grins on their faces as they passed us, it was truly one of the most fantastic things ever.
We determined right then and there that we had been wiener dogged, and since that day I have been legitimately wiener dogged several more times. Granted none of those times did the dog bark on cue the response to a musical couplet, that is perhaps the penultimate wiener dogging. No, Hot Sauce and I determined that anytime you are given reason to pause and give thought to a wiener dog, you have in fact been wiener dogged. Now that I've pointed this fact out to you, you're going to be surprised how common wiener doggings are.
If you ever have the good fortune to experience an exceptional wiener dogging, cherish it. Those memories are priceless, or, well, at least worth two bits.
After we'd sufficiently gorged ourselves, a smaller group of us brunchers headed to a local sports bar to catch some of the day's football games. Ah, girlfriends. We strolled in, skirts and all, and claimed a table giving us access to the wall o' big screen TVs. There we sat, chatting, cheering, cocktailing, and eventually having another conversation about bras. And, if the men around us weren't completely entranced by one of the 37 games flickering away, then I'm sure they were a little caught off guard when each of us at different points grabbed our own boobs and started talking about cup sizes. We were in our own little world, resurfacing every now and then to cheer and yell at the TVs. All I can say to explain it all is: ah, girlfriends.
Thank goodness for them.
I pick up my ride about a mile from home, and while I could probably walk the distance, most days I'm running late enough that I usually drive and park in the neighborhood near the stop, as was the case earlier this week. When I got to my car, there was a small sticky note folded into the door that read: Please call me about your car. "Jeff", and included his number.
I haven't called yet, but I'm curious about the intent of the note, but what I suspect is that "Jeff" repairs cars and saw mine as a prime target.
Ah, the Jetta.
He's been a great little car. And has been relatively perfect until I moved into the jhetto. While parked out in front of my house, he's been sides-swiped twice, one that left a couple of small dents over the wheel well, and the other that clipped and smashed my driver's side view mirror. I've had that mirror replaced. But just a couple of weeks ago, the passenger side view mirror was cracked, I'm not sure how. My best detectiving skills still haven't figured that one out. There's also a nice crack in the lower part of the windshield that has spread almost all the way across. Perhaps the cherry on the top is actually not a cherry, but remnants of a few over-ripe plums that the feral children across the street threw at my car when they were out just being kids. Oh, feral children, they do the darnedest things.
It's not like I don't have a great job, or that I can't pay for the repairs and a car wash, I just haven't made the time to do anything about them all.
Recently there's been a car parking in front of my house. This one's definitely seen better days, it's obviously been in a few accidents, this I know from a few massive dents, and the fact that the front bumper is very poorly reattached to the car with bungee cords. This car is an eyesore, I wish it wouldn't park there... and as I think those very thoughts I wonder if maybe "Jeff" doesn't repair cars, but he's just a concerned homeowner who doesn't want such a dirty, abused, beater parked in front of his house. Oh my gosh. I drive that car.
Note to self: Wash car, immediately.
Here is what I did get:
- Beatles Rockband--I did want this and asked for it specifically, big w00t to Mr. McMichael
- New pillows--yay! I really needed this and mentioned that I needed them and now I don't have to go out and get them myself (if you weren't able to tell, love me the practical gift, so these are perfect and make me very happy). Mr. McMichael shoots, he scores.
- Flowers--a couple of beautiful bouquets, thanks Mom and Coach A.
- 6,452,918 birthday wishes on Facebook--okay, I exaggerate.
- A dozen mini donuts--dear Lord, I did not ask for these, but seemed to have no problem whatsoever putting away six of them. Yes, six.
- Multiple chocolate cupcakes
And I'm getting myself a few things too:
- New perfume
- Cashmere cardigan from J. Crew
Courage? That's actually my favorite of all the gifts. I'm giving myself the courage and permission to being genuinely open to loving someone else. Openly admitting that to myself and to that person is huge for me, let's just say that being vulnerable is not something at which I excel. And in unwrapping this gift, I've realized that being open to loving someone else is not a one-sided thing, it actually means I need to be open to the possibility of someone loving me back. This is a great thing, but it is new territory--it's a whole new reality for me. And I'm terrified and ecstatic and cynical and gushy all at the same time.
More thoughts on this later, right now, my perfect pillows are calling my name, so I am off to sleep on my not bacon bed.
I'm sitting at a Mariner's game with the Commish a few months ago, and in the course of the conversation I blurt out, "Ooooh, you know what I really want for my birthday? I want a Karl Mecklenberg jersey." At the time it made complete sense. We were talking about some sort of football or other sports-related topic, and my stream of consciousness brain went on a little thought pattern voyage that went something like this:
- September is coming soon.
- Football season starts in September.
- I love September mostly because my birthday's in September.
- I really can't wait for football season. Oh how I love football Sunday.
- But my true, true love? The Denver Broncos (at which point I could feel the orange and blue blood pumping through my veins).
- La, la, la... I was born in 1977.
- I really miss the Broncos' uniforms of my childhood.
- It would be really cool to have a vintage Broncos jersey, but as much as I love Elway, that's too cliche.
- Karl Mecklenberg used to wear #77; I wonder what Karl's up to these days?
- Ooooh, kettle korn.
And it is at that point that I blurted out my birthday wish of wanting a Mecklenberg jersey. See how I did that? Yes, it was a random, and specific request, and if you were the Commish and weren't in my brain at the time, it probably seemed to come out of left field, and may appear to some as a, dare we say it, request from a crazy person. But, Internets, you see my train of thought, so it makes sense and is not the least bit crazy, right? Okay, well the Commish knows me pretty well, so this should not have been unexpected (and I think I may have even explained to him in great detail my thought process on this one, because that's what crazy people like me do). Plus, the random request was not a real request for a present. Well, okay it was, but it wasn't.
Although the words that fell out of my mouth were, "Karl Mecklenberg jersey," the vision in my brain was a women's cut jersey in the old orange mesh-like material (not the new fancy wicking moisture away kind). And do you know what, Internets? That jersey can be found in one place only: my brain. Okay maybe two places, because my brother was in Korea and could get anything he wanted made there, so I bet I could walk into some shop and describe what was in my head and in an hour or less come back and have it in my hands (thanks to several overworked abused children), but I don't want any kids harmed in the making of my happy birthday. So when I said I wanted the jersey, I meant I wanted the imaginary jersey in my brain. Kind of like you want a bed made out of bacon, or you want to sit in a hot tub of hot fudge, or whatever crazy thing you want, Internets. But here's the problem, unlike a bacon bed, you can get a Mecklenberg jersey, it's just a Mecklenberg jersey that I don't want.
Time passes, and I'm at work one day and I'm struck with the realization that the Commish may actually think that I want a Mecklenberg jersey, which I do, but not the one he's thinking of, the one I'm thinking of, that, you know, only exists in my head. And also that he may actually get me that jersey, the one he's thinking of, but not the one I want. Let me also point out that my request at the baseball game was not my attempt at dropping an obvious hint of what I expect the Commish and Monster to get me for my birthday, because I don't expect or want anything (well, except I do want the imaginary Mecklenberg jersey, but I certainly don't expect them to try and get that, what I really want is just for it to exist out there. If I knew that was a reality, then I may really want it, but first things first), it was genuinely me thinking out loud in my random way and hoping with nerdy childlike innocence that my dream Mecklenberg jersey actually exists and if it did, wow, it would be what I would want for my birthday. It was kind of like wishing for world peace, it sure would be nice, but ha ha ha, who's really going to make that happen?
So there I am, as I so often am, caught between a rock and a hard place. What if the Commish and Monster actually do get me that jersey, the one that they are thinking of, but not the one I'm thinking of that doesn't exist? Because I don't want the jersey they are thinking of, I want the one that I'm thinking of, and I would absolutely hate for them to go to the trouble and the expense for something that I don't want--I don't want a man's ginormous jersey. But then I think, how daft are you to think they are actually going to get you a jersey in the first place? So do you let your friends go down a path buying you a gift you do not want, or do you tell your friends not to get you a gift that they weren't planning on getting you anyway? Either way I come out a total arse. Can't win 'em all, I guess. So, I casually text the Commish something to the effect of please don't buy me a Mecklenberg jersey for my birthday. I try to explain that it's a silly request, but it's hard to sufficiently explain, "I don't want the jersey that you can buy, but I do want the jersey that only exists in my head" in 160 characters or less.
More time passes and the three of us are having brunch yesterday. We get into a conversation all about the jersey that I don't want, but that I really do want, and every sentence begins with, "but you know what I really want?" The Commish just keeps laughing more and more, and with every sentence tells me I'm that much more crazy. And I can't really deny the fact that to some it may appear crazy, but I like to think of it as creative, imaginative, inspired. And then he says, "does Mr. McMichael know that you're this crazy?" And I'm all, "of course he does--YOU CAN'T HIDE THIS. But I'm not crazy, this is just how I normally am." And as his claims on my craziness escalated, all I could think was, but you keep coming back for more! I mean, come on. This is why you love me, people. Okay, so I may think my little German sedan can hop railroad tracks, and so I steal the pop cans of famous people. Does that make me crazy? I can't not do those things, and if I stopped, then you'd be forced to read posts about google spellchecking, and nobody wants that.
So my birthday is tomorrow, and I'm not expecting anything, especially not the jersey that only exists in my brain, but how cool would it be if I did get that? And, Commish, that is not me acting crazy saying that I want that, but that I would be so floored if what I don't think exists anywhere--my "world peace," if you will--was actually all wrapped up with a pretty little bow on it. But you know what I'll probably end up with? A bacon bed. And if you're thinking of getting me a bacon bed, please stop, because I really do not want a bacon bed.
In case you missed that, FCA, my most loyal and dare we say demanding reader, apparently saw through my last "post" for what it really was, a thinly veiled impostor post pretending to be a real post.
Okay, okay, fine. Let's call it like it is, that last post, while very important and valuable information, was crap. And in honor of that, I was writing a doozy of a post that was all about crap. Literally. Well, literally it was about my need to find secret bathrooms for, well, crapping whenever I'm away from home. Yeah, about halfway into writing it I realized that post was just really crap, too.
Then I stressed myself out, because the well was dry and I just didn't have anything to post. I knew that would disappoint FCA more than a crap posting. With all that pressure weighing heavy on my soul, I went to bed. And I'm not even kidding that I dreamed up a post.
There I was, walking out in the middle of a field when all of the sudden cars started driving by, and then the wind picked up, and then a big construction truck drove up carrying dozens of traffic cones in the bed, and a strong gust came along and threw the cones hundreds of feet into the air--it really was an impressive sight. And then the cones began to fall back down to earth. So, I opened up the newspaper I was suddenly carrying and covered my head with it (because yeah, that will deflect a pylon), and then I thought, "Well, this is something you don't see every day, but at least I have something to blog about."
I know, I know, it's still crap, but it is true.
My freshman year in high school I played volleyball and basketball, and while I had played basketball competitively starting at the age of 10, and although I was a starter on the JV team, I decided to specialize and play volleyball year-round. Mostly this was because I loved volleyball and I saw a great chance to get a scholarship to play in college, and a little bit because there was too much running in basketball. Do you hear that? Too. Much. Running.
I guess I like running now. Sort of. I guess. Really, I don't know how much of it is that I like running--I like a challenge.
I ran my first marathon in 2004, and since then I've run two more. It's not easy, and it's not necessarily all that much fun, in fact, it's often downright torture. And as I head into races 4 and 5 next month, I've reached my favorite part of training--the part where we don't run as much. We had our longest run of the training period on Saturday, and we taper off until race day.
I'm hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon at Portland, and truth be told I've been trying to qualify at every race after that first one. I've even tried in Portland before. And every time I've tried to qualify, I've not been successful. As I headed into training for these upcoming races, I took the same approach I've taken before. One of the coaches for our team suggested an alternate option. And while I was quite reticent to adopt that mentality (I mean, how I could I run slower than the pace I need to run during the race?) I realized that I was poo-pooing advice from someone who consistently qualifies for Boston and also, holding onto the approach which had never yielded me the result I was chasing.
Note to self: Trust the process.
I have to admit heading into the race I feel more confident and prepared than ever. And it could be because I know the course, or because the third time's a charm. Or maybe it could be that I didn't know best and that trusting the process and the coach's advice is something I should have done a long time ago. And when I think that, I really wish I would have done this years ago. Think of all the running I wouldn't have had to do.
At least I can narrow it down. There will be no hug; seeing as I'm the world's worst hugger and there's a very short list of people in my life that I actually will make a genuine attempt at hugging, I just threw that one in for a laugh. Ha. Ha. But I could replace it with a high five; I'm a really good high-fiver.
What to do, what to do?
I come by it honestly; my dad is renowned among dozens (especially his sisters) for his severe lack of patience. Case in point, Little 15-year-old Ms. Notetaker is learning to drive and she's learning on manual transmission vehicles. Boy howdy did I struggle to find that sweet spot between idling in gear and stalling. My father, God bless and love him, really tried his hardest to let me get the feeling right. Well, it took me a long time to get that feeling and one time I was driving the family out to dinner or something like that, and I sat through a series of lights at a stoplight because I couldn't stop stalling. So there I am sobbing because I'm not perfect and I can't do this and I can't handle the "advice" I'm being given from my dad over the honking of the cars behind me, and there's my dad in the passenger seat, clenching his teeth with a death grip on my leg to hold it in place trying to prevent me from releasing the clutch too fast and stalling out again. He was, in fact doing everything he could short of yanking me out of the driver's seat and doing it himself (which, I know I asked him to do multiple times between sobs throughout this entire ordeal).
That "just-let-me-do-it" impatience is something I have certainly inherited and it played itself out in my very own car this morning.
While visiting my oh-so-wonderful hair stylist this morning, the heavens opened up and poured buckets and buckets of rain down on the city. I had to park in the back lot of the salon, which backs up onto a gravel road and railroad tracks, a somewhat industrial part of the neighborhood. I brave the sheets of rain, hop in my car and begin to drive down the one-wayish gravel road. I'm following an older couple and attempting to avoid the large pot-holes turned wading pools throughout the road. We get near the end of the road where we are almost on pavement and the car in front of me stops. Turns out the last ten yards of the road are under 2 feet of water from this surprise shower. Grandpa flips his car in reverse, and I start to get really annoyed, mostly because I'm not sure what he's doing and also because I'm not going reverse all the way back down this road. Although that may have been the smartest thing to do at the time, I didn't like that idea and I wasn't going to do what this old man had decided was prudent for me to do, so Little Ms. Just-Let-Me-Do-It took the wheel.
It seemed to me the most logical thing to do, would be to just cross the tracks, as not five feet on the other side of them was a puddle-free paved way to freedom. So in a move that certainly surprised the car in front of me--maybe because I don't drive an SUV, but a little VW Jetta--I attempt to hop the tracks. This all starts out great, I get over the first track no problem as I had found a place where the gravel raised up just enough that it wasn't such a big ledge to climb, and with minimal scrapeage to the undercarriage of my car, my driver side wheels had cleared the second track. It was here, however, that my ingenious plan went awry. I had not maintained enough speed and had also moved forward just enough to where my other two wheels couldn't get up and over the other track. I made several attempts, but the more I kept trying the worse I was making it.
All the while, the car in front of me stayed put. Sitting there with his reverse lights still on, not moving. As if he and his companion were just watching me and my little show. And this aggravated me even more. All I could think was, "listen, buddy, I'm out of your way now, so just reverse and get out of here." It took him awhile to do that. He just stayed sitting there. At least three times he rolled his window up and down, I think to make an effort to talk to me. But stubborn pride kept me from rolling mine down to engage him. I mean, if it weren't for the way his driving was annoying me, I wouldn't be stranded in the middle of train tracks in the first place. So no, I'm not going to talk to you. He finally decides to save himself and backs out of there.
And so there I am. All attempts of getting unstuck are futile, so I call Mr. McMichael.
Mr. McMichael: Hello!
MM: What's going on?
LMNT: Um, it turns out I made an extremely bad decision.
At this point, if Mr. McMichael is anything like me, he starts playing out worst-case scenarios in his brain.
LMNT: I'm stuck. In my car. In the middle of a railroad track.
And it is at this point that I think, oh dear God, do trains actually use this track? And, isn't there some public service announcement about not doing exactly what I just did?
I do my best to describe for him the situation, and the possible ways I see of getting out of it, most of which involve the phrase, "if I can just build up enough speed and momentum...". He very valiantly says that he will drive out with rope to try and save me, and I tell him I'm going to try a couple of other options before that will be necessary, and that I'll call him back if none of them work. I am, by the way, very doubtful that any of them will work.
So there I sit, in the middle of a railroad track hoping that a train is not heading for me, when a Jeep drives beside me on the gravel road and turns right in front of me and crosses the track without any difficulty whatsoever. Oh, yeah. Well eff you, Jeep, for rubbing it in. What I wouldn't give for your clearance and suspension.
Deflated I start to back up. Remember when I was defiant against the old man who wanted me to back all the way up down the gravel road? Yes? Well my current plan was to back up all the way down the distance of that gravel road, only with two of my wheels running down the middle of a train track. In the process of backing up a couple of yards, I realized I actually could probably get enough speed and momentum to coax my car up and over the tracks where the Jeep had crossed. It was worth a shot. So I got the little Jetta moving (at least 5 miles an hour), and it somehow worked. I was free.
And in thinking about how the heck I close this post, I've realized that I've stumbled upon my own twisted version of the age-old melodrama: poor helpless damsel is stuck on the railroad tracks and the virtuous hero in the white hat could come and save her, but she'll have to wait, and really, who has the time for that, so she'll just do it herself (and keep her fingers crossed that she didn't jack up her car too much). Yep, patience is definitely no virtue of mine.
And in lieu of the book reports I promised, I'll give you the cliff notes, or really a sentence, about each book I've read thus far:
1. Water, Stone, Heart--Will North
This book made me want to quit everything I'm doing and move to a small town in England (I'd actually prefer Ireland, as you all know), and make walls and stuff.
2. Can't Wait to Get to Heaven--Fannie Flagg
I love Fannie Flagg, mainly because I love southern literature, mainly because my favorite professor in college specialized in Literature of the American South. I recommend this one, especially if you've read some of Flagg's more recent works as it builds off of them in a very genuine, touching, and humorous way.
3. The Secret Life of Bees--Sue Monk Kidd
Another piece of Southern lit. Very poignant, very descriptive, very good.
4. The Color of Water--James McBride
A good non-fiction memoir of a black son and his white mother. Very cool approach to the memoir and a biography.
5. The Time Traveler's Wife--Audrey Niffenegger
This one came highly recommended from Coach A, and I agree; it was a great story of true, unconditional love, and you have to be kind of smart to keep up with the twists and turns (either that or avoid reading it when you're half asleep in bed).
Because there are a few weeks left until the official start of fall, I'm hoping to get one or two more in, and I'm going to call that good.
And hey, Internets, how's your own extreme book-it challenge going?