I was driving home from work today in heavy stop-and-go traffic, all proud of myself for finding my "new to me" hubcap yesterday, when I came to a quick stop just to see that very hubcap roll across the freeway lane in front of my car. No no no no no no no! Awh, man. Blarg.
As I watched it roll, in super slo-mo and then come to rest in the lane next to me, I strongly considered pulling the emergency brake, hopping out and grabbing the wayward cap. Wasn't it destiny that this hubcap and I were reunited yesterday? I guess not. And I also guessed it was better that I didn't jump out of my car in the middle of the freeway during rush hour. And just like that, I've got to go reinvent my wheel.
Internets, guess what I found driving home from work today? Yep, a hubcap. But wait, not just any hubcap, a hubcap for a Volkswagen, a hubcap for a Volkswagen that matches the other three hubcaps on my Volkswagen. There it was in all of its glory propped up against a bus stop shelter, undoubtedly placed there by a selfless saint.
Was it my hubcap (the one I lost months ago)? Eh, probably not. Did I immediately pull over, walk down the street, pick it up, carry it back, and attach it to my wheel? You bet I most certainly did.
As I parked my car down the road, I hemmed and hawed about if it was the right thing to do. Was it wrong for me to go and grab that hubcap off the side of the road? And the more I thought about it, the more I realized it had to be the right thing. How many of those abandoned little hubcaps do I see every day? Too many to count. How many blog posts do I have to write about hubcap humanitarians? Okay, probably too many of those to count, too. But, even if that hubcap wasn't really mine, the simple act of pulling over and claiming it is exactly why hubcap humanitarians do what they do. So, it's not so much that I was stealing something that wasn't mine, but I was creating a virtuous cycle within the hubcap humanitarian community. And although it is highly likely that hubcap is not mine, I will love it as if it were my very own--it may be a little scratched up and has been living out on the street for quite some time now--I'm thinking a gently used, free hubcap is better than no hubcap at all.
I made a special trip to the vending machine at work today, again. And, you guessed it I scored free candy, again. Peanut M&Ms this time. You'd have to be there to believe it; thankfully, AP was.
I keep thinking my candy karma might be coming to an end, and even thought I had run out today, for when I entered my selection the first package of peanut M&Ms got stuck and didn't drop. Both AP and I had the same reaction with matching sad trombone sound effect. But then, just when it seemed all hope for chocolate was lost, the machine revved up and spun me out not one, but two bags of M&Ms. AP squealed and did a happy little dance--which quite surprised the man getting coffee at the other end of the kitchenette.
And don't get me wrong (especially you, St. Macarius of Alexandria, patron saint of candy makers), I like the free candy and all, but I really need to figure out how to channel my ESP into other arenas. Until then, Internets, if you need stuff, chocolate stuff, you know who to call.
Ah, Dad. Dad, Denny, Lenny, Leonard, DenPants. Lots of loving names for the ol' man I love so much.
When I think about him, it's hard not to think of the things that are so uniquely him, his Dennyisms, if you will. The Dennyism that is most memorable to me (other than his impersonation of the Incredible Hulk, but that's another story) is his stock response to injury. Regardless the severity of your malady, if you went running to dad you'd get the standard answer, "rub it." Stub your toe? Rub it. Trip down the stairs at the neighbor's house wearing high heels from the dress-up box and scrape your knee? Rub it. Slam your thumb in the car door, rip it out of said car door, see blood drip from under the nail bed, nearly faint? Go to the hospital and get an x-ray because it's clearly broken? No. Have you not learned anything? RUB IT! The man was nothing if not consistent.
Growing up, we'd frequently take mini-vacations up to the cabin our grandparent's had in the foothills of the Rockies. We use the term cabin loosely, as it wasn't a rustic log cabin, but it was a nice little getaway on a reservoir with a boat, some dirt bikes, and a couple of Vespa-type scooters. I remember my brother and I entertaining ourselves for hours out in the garage. We'd climb up into the boat and pretend to drive it, and when that got old, we'd sit on the scooters and make believe we were driving around getting groceries and whatnot, you know, doing the things you do on scooters. And then when that got old, we'd go in beg any of the adults to take us out for real rides on the scooters to get groceries or just do the things you do on scooters, which was mostly just ride them.
At the tender age of 12 (which at the time I'm sure made perfect sense), I had it in my mind that it was high time I learned how to drive the scooter. I wasn't really of a stature that could control the scooter, I was lanky, awkward, and klutzy, but by golly I was determined to drive that scooter all on my own! I had been plotting that time for at least a year and I know that I was completely fixated on learning how that entire weekend vacation.
Finally, my dad caved and agreed to teach me. We strapped on helmets and headed up the hill to some property that my grandpa owned where I could practice on wide, level space that was off the street. My brother came along too, on one of the little dirt bikes. It's important to note that this property is dirt and gravel--ideal for the little dirt bikes, maybe not-so-ideal for scooters operated by tentative scrawny first-time drivers.
After some brief instruction--dad, I got this, I ride this thing in my imagination ALL THE TIME in the garage, trust me, I'm a pro--away I go with the task of practicing big loopy figure eights. I'm great on the first straightaway, I feel the wind on my skin and it's all that I dreamed it could be. And then I get to my first turn. Now what was it he was saying about turning? Slow down a little? Lean into it? Hmm, I don't think I like driving scooters anymore. I think I'd like to stop--OH NO! Look out for that rock! Turn. Rock. Turn. Lean? Screw it. And just as I was taking the scooter over the rock, without a hint of lean in my body, I yank the handle bars as hard as I can to the right and fall off. Yep. I laid that scooter down, only that makes it sound much more graceful than it was. As I remember it, I got up, shattered ego and scraped elbow, the throbbing kind where you can feel the blood dripping down your limb. Crying from the embarrassment, frustration, and pain, I was done. I turned to my dad, hoping for some sympathy and what I got-- in what I am sure was the most sympathetic way he knew how? Yes. Rub it.
I lost it. In what I am sure was the most dramatic way I knew how, I exclaimed I would NOT be rubbing my arm because my elbow was gushing blood, it hurt, and THERE ARE ROCKS LODGED IN THERE and rubbing it would only grind them in more! I then informed him I would not be riding on that scooter back to the cabin and proceeded to walk my stubborn sobbing self (with my helmet still strapped firmly to my head) back down the hill.
My dad and brother seemed somewhat surprised at my response; I think that may have been one of the first times my dad realized he was raising a teenage girl. Oh the fun of teenage emotions he had in store, lucky lucky him. I didn't have the same mentality that he or my brother had, where a scrape and a little blood didn't stop you, in fact a scrape and blood made you keep on going. I had the mentality that a scrape and blood took the fun out of it and made me want to abandon the scooter and go home.
You'll be glad to know my elbow and ego both healed. Dad even helped me make it through the teenage years and into adulthood (with plenty of Dennyisms all along the way). And while I've not driven a scooter since that vacation, I have had several falls, and the first voice that pops into my head is always that of dad. And even if I don't take his advice every time, it's reassuring to know that he's always there ready to offer it, or to drive my scooter back home for me when all I can do is walk.
Thanks, DenPants, for everything. I love you, always.
Let me explain.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my VBFF, TIG, had a boyfriend who was a senior. He was old enough to go to rated R movies, vote, buy lottery tickets and tobacco products. And TIG and I, we were not that old--and let me tell you, we were i-n-n-o-c-e-n-t little goodie-two-shoes (I know, you're all completely shocked). We were co-presidents, and now that I think about it, really the only two members of the club STAND (Students Taking a New Direction). Funny thing, it wasn't so much that we were taking a "new" direction so to speak, we were taking the only direction we had ever known: the straight and narrow. No drugs, no alcohol, no sex, no rule breaking of any kind. I've said it here before and I'll say it again, we were so flippin' cool. But we didn't really care, we had so much fun in our own dorky innocent ways, that doing anything differently never even crossed our minds.
Back to the melodarama. One day, TIG finds a can of mint chew in her boyfriend's car and is completely beside herself. Where did that come from? Why would he have that? Doesn't he know who she is and what she STANDs for? Distraught, we determine the best solution is to call into the local radio psychologist.
WAIT, Internets. I was typing this post and realized, I'VE TOLD YOU THIS STORY ALREADY! Aren't I adorable? Yep, back in 2008. And you? You were you going to let me keep going, pretending you hadn't already heard it weren't you? All the while just nodding at me, smiling and thinking, "yeah yeah yeah and then your husband bought your step-daughter a mink and yadda yadda yadda. WE KNOW!" Okay, I'll spare you all that. But if you haven't read this post, you really should. It's hilarious. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller.
Note to self: Reduce, reuse, recycle: great for the environment and maybe reviving the readership.
My guess is that if you're of a certain age (like say, mine) after watching this you'll be overwhelmed by memories of Sesame Street. To this day, anytime anyone utters the word "llama," it immediately sets off this catchy little tune in my brain. And sometimes I sing it to myself in my car when I'm driving myself to the dentist. Okay, final Sesame Street confession, if I ever have to count to twelve, I either do it as if I'm going to play games at the ladybug picnic or I'm in a jazzy pinball machine. Can I get a witness?
So back to this whole llama dentist adventure, what the what? Re-watching this video raises the same questions for me as when I was a kid:
- Who has a pet llama?
- Wait, no, the real question is who has a pet llama in Manhattan?
- Are there any animal laws about walking your pet llama down a New York City street?
- How many llama dentists are there in New York City?
- If I couldn't find a llama dentist, would my dentist clean my pet llamas teeth?
I've decided to do some hard-hitting investigative research for you (read: I Binged it) and here's what I learned:
1. Who has a pet llama? Well, a lot of people do. And Chrissa. Chrissa has a pet llama.
2. Wait, no, the real question is who has a pet llama in Manhattan? As it turns out, a lot of people do. People like the owners of Lazy T Ranch, in Manhattan. Manhattan, Kansas.
3. Are there any animal laws about walking your pet llama down a New York City street? There are certainly laws about walking your dog down the street. However, llooking for llama llaws is lleaving me llost. Llame. If you want LlMNT's advice, check with the New York City department of Veterinary Public Health Services.
4. How many llama dentists are there in New York City? In New York City proper there are 14. Well, there are 14 "animal dentists," you should call them first before leashing up your llama and walking her there as they may only cater to small animals and it would likely be a little humiliating for both you and your llama to show up at the small animal dentist only to be turned away because they don't have a chair, protective eye wear, or scrapers big enough for your giant llama.
5. If I couldn't find a llama dentist, would my dentist clean my llama's teeth? HELL NO. Are you kidding me? The official dentist for the blankity blankhawks? With her rhinestones, skinny designer jeans and stilettos? That's just plain preposterous. It's not because she caters only to small animals--I mean, come on, the blankity blankhawks are anything but small--it's because you're a llama. Sorry, llama.
And that's the truth.
Yeah, that's how my life has felt for awhile: circling at a ridiculously slow and monotonous pace, on the brink of a downward spiral into the great unknown. I've felt like I've been on the brink for a really long time, in a holding pattern of sorts. Stuck. I've felt stuck. Even though my life is rolling on (or around and around and around and around), I've felt like I've been going nowhere. And I've been trying with all of my might to make sure that no matter where I circled, that I would go anywhere but that downward spiral. Please, anywhere but there!
When I think about that funnel, it gets me thinking about how throwing your quarter in the funnel is more fun than throwing your quarter in a plain old box, it's times infinity more fun. Why? Because of the journey it takes, because you know where it's going to go but you don't know exactly how long it will take to get there, because when it starts to roll faster and faster and faster you get so excited that you hold your breath in anticipation until it drops. And when it drops, you think, that was fun! Again! Again! Again! And you put in another coin and repeat.
When I think about my life, it gets me thinking about how unlike the quarter I've been avoiding that journey. I've been circling the top of the funnel where it's slow and safe and where I'm bored. And I think I've been subconsciously trying to maintain that path because it's slow and safe and boring, and the downward spiral is terrifying and unknown. But when I really truly think about it, the spiral part is actually thrilling and exciting and will take me to the great unknown. And in my mind I was thinking like the downward spiral and the great unknown were bad things. However, they're not. In the case of the coins, the great unknown is actually a good place, where it joins other coins and becomes part of a something bigger, a donation to a good cause. So maybe the thrilling spiral down to the great unknown isn't bad afterall. What if, like my quarter, it's a good place where I can be a part of something bigger. Who would consciously try to resist that?
This week, I've taken some big steps. I'm surrendering to the revolutions of my life, I'm tired of circling up top when better things are waiting for me in the great unknown. Things that are so good that I know that as I roll faster and faster toward them, I'll be holding my breath in anticipation waiting to land. And after I do, I'll know that is was fun! And I'll want to do it again! Again! Again!