For those who don't know,
thanks to a bone infection,
I now have 9 3/4 toes.
So, am I an amputee now,
or is it like Nearly Headless
Nick not being allowed to join
the Headless Hunt because
his head wasn't chopped
all the way off?
Once upon a time, specifically any time before January 8, my life was busy, hectic even, but manageable. I had functioning brain cells. Sure, there was work, and kids, and kids' school, and kids' social activities and kids' inexplicable decisions to not mention important school projects until the night before they're due, and cats and writing and stuff...but, still. You know, manageable.
Then, slowly, the descent into SSD (Seasonal Stupid Disease) began. First, it was just Really Busy Days. But, HEY! Guess what? In mid-February, thanks to some really horrible orthotics, I got a surprise 2.5 week vacation.
It was amazing! An 18-hour fast, followed by 4 hours of gluttony, followed by another 18-hour fast. Round-the-clock visits from strangers!
Partial nudity! Wet wipe shampoo! Not knowing how much you've spent on dining, entertainment and gauze until a full 30-60 days later! Being stabbed constantly by an insensitive jerk named Carlos!***
That's right; I was in the hospital.
But, all painful, expensive vacations must come to an end. (On the highlight reel: In response to my question about how long surgery might take, Dr. $107.79's compassionately and sensitively replied, "Oh not long...unless I get in there and pus starts squirting out all over the place. THEN it might take a while.")
I started back at work in time for a certain seasonal event to really kick it into high gear. (Hint: it happens in Austin every other year for five months and involves the only kind of bills more complex, confusing, cryptic than hospital bills.)
I couldn't quite get back into the swing of things following my vacation. My inbox hadn't yet made it below 50 (I get stressed at numbers above 20). And suddenly Really Busy Days became Also Busy Evenings, Nights and Weekends.
Slowly, imperceptibly, I began to notice the manic energy, the ceaseless internal vibration of a thousand Undone Tasks, almost as though I had picked up a major Red Bull or meth habit without knowing it.
Tuesday I got to make my first trip to a Major State Landmark. It would have been nerve-wracking in any case, because I have absolutely no directional ability. The kids will confirm that we have yet to have a vacation in which I haven't gotten us lost. I am also well known for having lengthy, profanity-laden conversations with South African Siri in which I'm convinced that she doesn't understand roads on this side of the equator. (I'm sure I could change her accent, but at this point she's kinda grown on us.) I even got lost last fall in the company parking garage the first time I drove in from the north entrance (I've been an employee for over 20 years).
Basically, I can get lost anywhere. But I was determined to overcome. I arrived an hour early, only to find the visitor parking garage full. I fi
gured I'd take a ticket and circle, since, ya know, I had AN HOUR. Garage wouldn't even dispense a ticket. I circled around the general area, checking out parking meters halfheartedly because (a) parallel parking earned me a 76 on my driving exam in 1988 and my skills have only continued to devolve from there, (b) most of them had yellow out-of-order bags on them anyway, and (c) I remember working downtown in 1998 and how if you stayed in the same spot for more than 5 hours you got a ticket, no matter how many quarters you fed the beast.
This space might be sufficient for me to attempt parallel parking,
but I can't guarantee I'd stay within the lines and you can just
forget 18" from the curb.
As the kids can tell you, despite how often I get lost, I always get flustered when it happens. I also tend to make really melodramatic pronouncements like, "WHY DO PEOPLE EXIST?" and "DROP OUT OF SCHOOL AND GET OFF THE ROAD, COLLEGE KIDS! EDUCATION IS OVERRATED!" When the kids are with me, this is usually a cue for everyone including me to start cracking up and then I calm down, but my car was child-free. I eventually found a surface lot and made it to my destination, a brisk 20 minute uphill walk away, desperately repeating landmarks in my head so that I could find my way back to my car someday.
I was so flustered I forgot the Cardinal Rule of such events, which is: you never know when you're gonna be asked to speak, so you can't leave to eat or go to the bathroom. And, most critically, if you can't spare 15 minutes to go find a vending machine, you certainly can't leave to feed a meter or (in my case) move your car out of a surface lot for which your ticket expires at precisely 6 p.m.
So I spent most of the day flustered and worried about (a) finding my car, (b) whether my car would be there or not when I found where it was supposed to be or how I would know if it wasn't, and (c) who I could call to come pick me up if it did get towed.
On the plus side, at 6:24 pm, I found my car, it was still there, and it didn't even have a boot on it. On the minus side, I got a $75 parking ticket. Honestly, at that point in the day, I called it a win.
Three days later, and I still haven't quite shaken that crazed, adrenaline feeling. The work keeps pouring in. Meanwhile, I've got a poetry workshop to finish prepping, writing to submit, vacation bills to pay (I'm looking at you, Dr. $68.27). I've been having to tell people, "Look, just pretend I'm temporarily stupid, and remind me again of the entire discussion we had for two hours yesterday?" In movies, the main character wakes up from a coma and the doctors always ask, "What's your name? What year is it? Who's the president of the USA?" I'm not entirely sure I'd get a passing score on that quiz today.
The good part is, we're half way done with this madness, and then it goes away again for another 19 months and I get my life back.
In the meantime, if you see me, please remind me that the correct answers are: Diana Conces, 1983, and Harry S. Truman.
***I'm pretty sure Carlos came to the profession of phlebotomy following a successful plumbing career, because he was rooting around in my veins like he was fishing for a particularly large hair clog.