Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sometimes laughter is just a cry dressed in drag

Just when you thought you were having a bad day....

Yesterday, I awoke at the usual 4:00 am to sneak in a shower and walk the dog before Jonas woke up. The morning was a typical one, grey, gloomy, tornado watch in effect. Welcome to Florida in the spring.

As Jonas and I were on our way out the door he dropped his binky, requiring me to re-arrange the hundred and one things I was trying to carry, so as not to drop him on his head. In the process, my soda, which was tucked neatly into my scrub pocket, crashed to the cement and exploded into a sugary brown shower. Jonas thought this was the greatest. I simply cursed quietly and kicked the can out into the yard to deal with later.

So I get J-man in the car, all buckled into his fancy carseat with the million and one parent proof restraints, and he's chewing happily on my keychain. Have you ever tried prying a really cool toy away from an infant? It doesn't go over well. Next thing you know, he's activated the alarm, and half the neighborhood is peeking out their windows at me. Not to mention, Jonas is terrified. I get the baby calm, and off we go to daycare.

After dropping him off, I stop at the corner store to get myself a replacement for the exploded soda, only to get to the register and realize that I left my debit card in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing the night before. And, of course, I have no cash on me. No problem though, I always carry the card to my old account with me, just in case. It's an account with First Bank of Ghetto, but I haven't bothered to close it because, well, I've had it since I was 15, and in some strange way or another, I feel some sort of attachment to it, and it's free, so who gives a damn, right? I use the card to buy my soda, and it's off to work.

Wait, it gets better, I promise.

So work is a drag, like always. It's an issue that doesn't need to be re-hashed. I'm just burnt out, and I'm tired of being nagged to work more hours. I sort of, kind of, got handed an ultimatum today, either I go back to working insane amounts of overtime, or I can find a new job. I don't really give a damn. I tell them I'll start looking tomorrow. The day drags on, I leave about 15 minutes early so that I can stop and get some gas before spending the next hour in dead-stop traffic.

The gas station's parking lot is adjacent to ours, so I cruise on over to the pump, insert the nozzle into my very empty gas tank (as in, the gas light has been on for the last 15 miles) and swipe my First Bank of Ghetto card. The pump hesitates, and then flashes the dreaded phrase, "See Attendant." Dammit. This has happened before at this gas station, and I'm assuming it's a faulty reader, so I go in and the guy behind the counter tells me that my card is stolen.

Stolen? Ummm, it's right here in my hand, and look, here's my id to prove it's me.

"Sorry ma'am, I can't do anything about it."

"Can you loan me a gallon or two of gas so I can go get my kid? I work right next door. I promise I'll pay you tomorrow. I'll even leave you my driver's license, if you want."

"Sorry, no way."

Have I ever felt so low in my life? Begging for a gallon of gas when I have plenty of money sitting right there in my bank account?

It never dawned on me to go back into work and just post a ten dollar debit to my already astronomical bill.

So, pissed off, I get in my very empty car and head off into dead-stop traffic to try and sputter my way home.

Imagine my shock and surprise when, as I pull away from the pump, I hear a loud BANG followed by the THWACK of something landing on my roof.

What the fuck?

I get out of the car to discover that, in my rage over the "stolen" card, I neglected to remove the gas nozzle from my tank, and now I have effectively destroyed what I am assuming to be a rather expensive piece of equipment.

And everyone at the other pumps are laughing at me.

Fuck you all.

I go back inside, tell the guy what I've done, tell him that whatever needs to be done, we need to do it quickly because I've got to go get my son before the daycare closes, so call the cops, or get the forms, or call the insurance people, or whatever.

This is the place where, if I were in a normal, or even somewhat sane, state of mind, I would realize that there are still a few decent people left in the world. Not the type of decent people that'll loan you a couple of bucks worth of gas, but the type that, when looking at their busted gas pump will laugh and tell you, "I didn't see nothing, you didn't see nothing. Go get your son."

Thank you Mr. Gas Attendant.

Now I'm on the road, that little gas light glaring at my from the dash as the minutes tick by slowly. I know there's no way I'm going to be able to get all the way to daycare with what's left in the tank. I'm not even sure I can make it home. Then it occurs to me, I pass First Bank of Ghetto on my way home. I'll stop in the lobby, clear this whole thing up, get some gas, and be on my way.

I pull into the bank parking lot at 5:25, walk to the door, and they're locking up.

"Sorry, the lobby's closed."

"Yeah, well, I've got a real problem here. My card is being reported as stolen, I don't have enough gas to even go get my son from school, and surely it'll only take a minute to fix this. Will you please let me come in?"

"Nope, we close at 5:30, but the drive-thru is open."

"Well, can I fix this through the drive through?"

"No, you have to come inside."

"So, even though you're still here, you're locking the door five minutes early, all the tellers are still here, and the bank manager is still here, you're telling me that we can't get this cleared up, and that even though I have money in my account, I'm not going to be able to get any gas simply because you're too damn lazy to let me in for the two minutes it will take to fix your error?"

"Try using you card at the ATM, maybe it'll let you get some cash."

"Thanks a lot, really. I appreciate your help."

The ATM welcomes me to First Ghetto with all of it's blue screen splendor. I punch in my pin number, ask nicely for my $20, it churns, chugs, and then sneers at me. I swear to god it did! The reciept that pops out reads, "Your card has been retained, please take this reciept inside."

I've already broken one machine today, but I swear, if I had a baseball bat, I'd have gone Office Space on it's snearing blue ass.

So, back into traffic I go, empty tank just chugging along, trying to get the four more miles to home thinking that the closer I get, the less walking I'll have to do. I call Heidi on my cell phone, ask her to please run over and pick up Jonas, that I'm going to be late. I call Bonnie to let her know that Heidi is picking up Jonas. She tells me that Heidi's not on my list of people who are allowed to pick him up. WTF?! Is everyone just out for me today, or what?

I tell her it's her choice, either she can send Jonas home with Heidi, who I now bestow permission upon, or she can keep him until I get there, which may be an hour or more. She tells me that she doesn't see how it will be a problem to send him with my best friend, but that I'll need to supply her information for future reference.

Sure, hon, she lives three houses down from you, she's short, she's blond, and she's doing me a huge favor. Thanks.

Despite all of my previous doubts, I am now convinced that there is a higher power of some sort. Don't ask me to call it God, just accept the fact that I truly do believe that something greater than myself got me all the way to my driveway before the car finally sputtered to a stall. Talk about close...

But now what do I do? I'm home, I have a working debit card in my hand, and I can't get the car to the nearest gas station. How much irony can a person have in one 12 hour period?

I'm eyeballing the lawn mower.

Oh, Angie, you're not really going to do it are you?

Fuck yeah, I am.

It's a damn good thing that a year or so ago I took an interest in the art of making meade. It means that I have about 50 feet of rubber tubing that I used to use to siphon the fermenting ale from one container to another. And I'll be damned if it doesn't work just as well for gasoline, if you can get over the fact that you're inhaling petroleum.

I get maybe a gallon of gas from the mower, and, armed with a working card, climb behind the wheel, say a little incantation to the great spirits of the automobile, and turn the key.

On the third try, we're on our way! Hooray for me!

And all the way from my house, to the gas station, to Heidi's I laugh. Laugh like someone that should be surrounded by pillowed walls and guards in white uniforms. Because, really, what else are you supposed to do?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Time to go

There comes a point when you know it's time to move on. That moment when you realize that you're holding onto something simply for the comfort and security that comes along with familiarity and not because there's any joy left.

I'm not unique, I know that. There's hardly a person in this world who enjoys their job. But maybe I am unique in the fact that I don't plan on sticking around a whole lot longer.

Ok, so I've been hating work for a long time. What finally made me decide that now is the time to make tracks?

It's simple really.

I can deal with the long hours. I can deal with the poverty level pay. After all, I just need to earn enough to pay off a couple of bills each month. Wil's job takes care of the major finances. I can even deal with the doctors and their pompous head up the ass attitudes. What I can't deal with is insensitivity and the exploiting of good people just to line their pockets.

Ok, so it's personal, really.

Today my old friend, Dick, had to euthanize his old dog. Happens every day, sometimes more times than I can count. It's part of working for a vet. Pets die. And I understand that we have to charge for services rendered, no matter how emotional or unpleasant. It's how we make our money. But really, is it necessary to charge the poor guy a $50 emergency fee on top of the fee for euthanasia and the fee for body disposal? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

I'd like to think that I'd feel the same way even if Dick weren't my friend, and I probably would. But to know Dick, to know his love for Sarah, and all the money he's spent helping her feel ok for the past several months. To know that Sarah's passing is just a symbolism for his wife who is at home with a tumor eating away at her brain a little more each day just makes it all the more insulting.

So I hope Dr. Ego enjoys his nice steak dinner tonight, courtesy of me, since I paid the bill myself. Not because I think Dick can't afford it, but because I refuse to charge him for it.

I'm so outta there.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Big Cheese

Ok, so I'm feeling older. I've got a kid, a family, a house payment, a car payment. I worry about things like life insurance, health insurance, and the fat content of the food I eat.

I stand in front of the mirror and contort myself into different "natural" looking positions that might conceal some of the "trouble" areas.

Oh god, I have trouble areas!

I've started walking down the skincare aisle and paying attention to all of those jars and bottles that promise to fade your wrinkles and make you look as young as the teenage model on the package.

I drive the speed limit more often than not.

My idea of a wild night involves staying up past the 10:00 news and a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

But perhaps the most terryfying and shameful of all my new old lady habits is the fact that I've begun tuning into the "light rock, official at work station" every night after work instead of cranking up the shock jock stuff of my past, or even the alternative, or the classic rock that I've always loved.

Nope, no more Smashing Pumpkins for me. Give me Delilah and all her sappy callers with their stories just dripping with cheese, and give me all of those incredibly horrible gooshy love songs to go with them. Yes. I want to get all teary eyed driving down the road and singing along at the top of my lungs to such classics as "All Cried Out" and "I am the Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor," or whatever the official title is. And can you really listen to that song and not think of the Karate Kid?

Don't worry young-uns. Your day will come, too. And when it does, don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pajama Party

We're having a sleepover tonight, Wil, and Jonas and Steven and me. It's hard to believe how long it's been since Steven has spent a night with us. Jeez, I think he was still in diapers.

Ok, so maybe it hasn't been quite that long, but it feels like forever. It's amazing how fast they grow.

The boys are on the couch doing all the things they aren't supposed to do... drinking sugary sodas, eating t.v. dinners with their fingers, and scratching their respective parts like the men that they are.

Jonas, of course, is off to bed. Little ones aren't much for pajama parties, and besides, he already stayed up an hour later than his normal bedtime.

I live for weekends like this. Weekends where Wil isn't on call, and we can all relax. He kept Jonas this morning while I worked. It wasn't easy for him. He hasn't had to be the lone ranger of baby care in a long time, and Jonas has changed so much just in the past few weeks. Feeding him has become a job that takes patience and stealth. It's hard to get a perfectly aimed spoon past the arms and into the proper facial orifice without wearing at least half of it. There's an art to it, and sound effects are vital.

There's nothing funnier than standing there in the lobby of the clinic, phone pressed to my ear, explaining that the race car noises work better than the helicopter to a distraught husband while clients just stare at me like I'm nuts.

They're just too damn old to remember what it's like to try and sneak strained peas into a squirmy little babe.

Speaking of squirmy, now that Jonas is somewhat mobile, trying to diaper and dress him is like wrestling a herd of angry eels. And who decided that baby clothes should have so many damn snaps and buttons anyway? Wouldn't it be easier to just put a few little velcro tabs there? Easy to open, easy to shut. Some days it feels like a real accomplishment just to get him fed, bathed and dressed. Nevermind the fact that an hour later, it's time to wrestle him into his jammies for the night.

So anyway, sitting here, feeling like the outsider in a house full of boys tonight, I realize that I can't wait for Jonas to be all big and grown up like Steven, watching t.v. with his Daddy, playing games and eating forbidden junk food way past bedtime. Then I look at my sleeping little bundle... the way his lips pouch out in that content little half-smile, the tiny relaxed fists raised above his head and resting on my pillow, his pudgy ankles crossed and laid atop the blanket, the sweet little baby snore he has, and I don't think I ever want him to change.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hooray for Cable!

Two more days and I'll be free of the dial-up ball and chain. I'm nearly drooling over the thought of high-speed internet. I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, face pressed to the glass of my bedroom, waiting for my own personal Santa to arrive in his brighthouse truck, bearing the gifts of cable-modem and DVR.

Seriously though, haven't I suffered long enough with dial-up? I sometimes feel like I'm the only one in the world that still depends on this archaic method of surfing the net. Of course, I know I'm not, but that's beside the point.

So all that's left to do now is justify the fact that we'll now be shelling out more than $100 a month to the cable company...

1. We don't go out to movies or fancy dinners.
2. I have no other hobbies that require monetary support.
3. Having high-speed will be beneficial to me once I begin doing transcription.
4. Doesn't my family deserve to get baby updates all the time? Wouldn't my son's pictures be better served by a high-speed connection?
5. We're cancelling the home phone line and the MSN account, which will actually save us more money a month than the roadrunner and the DVR will cost us.
6. I don't really watch all that much tv, and I find it impossible to read books with Jonas since I have to constantly stop and check on him, so this is really my only source of entertainment. (sad, I know)
7. I deserve it, dammit! And honestly, isn't that all the reason I need?