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Twas the Night of Christmas

Twas the night of Christmas,
and all through the state,
every creature was driving,
as slow as a mouse.

I drove to my sister's on Christmas Day. Bad traffic. Infuriatingly bad. Motorized carts would have been less frustrating. Well, maybe not. Why did I just think about that? That made my blood pressure rise just thinking of it. We had three lanes of traffic, that's TWO lanes for slow, old, bad drivers. But they thought a nice Christmas present would be to spread out perfectly across all three lanes to prevent anyone from going over 50 mph. On the FREEWAY. for MILES. So many cars. So many slow cars. So many mini-vans. It was a Christmas Caravan of Caravans. I wish that on only a select few deserving wretches. Getting stuck behind a Christmas Caravan of Caravans, I mean. I was on the phone with my friend Carrie; she got off the phone to "straighten her hair?!" Isn't it already straight? Obviously she could hear my pulse over the phone. She said I sounded frustrated. I said I wasn't, and proceeded to list off what WOULD make me frustrated. Not a good way to stay un-frustrated. First, I lied about not being frustrated; then, I thought on things that made me more frustrated and even more likely to die of a stroke while driving.

This grumbling made me thankful though. Thankful to all the people who suffered through the construction of the 4th, 5th and 6th lanes of I-75 where it meets I-4. Their years of sacrifice and frustration "paved" the way for me to "bypass" my own frustration. Passing Caravan after Caravan from the far right lane (!?!), I cruised the rest of the way to my sister's at 85 and 90 mph. No cops. I guess they knew about the Christmas Caravan of Caravans.

Another thought I had...
I love how the world shut down for a few hours on Christmas day. By that I mean text messaging. People were shut out of text messaging for a few hours on Christmas because SO MANY people were doing it. That amazes me about our world. That so many people were actually text messaging, and that many people's lives were messed over because the systems couldn't handle it. Our impersonal, impatient lives were inconvenienced and frustrated because we had to make phone calls instead. My dad called the day before because he thought the "wires would be busy." I scoffed. Until I couldn't reply to all the "Merry Christmas" texts on Christmas Day. But he was still wrong. The lines weren't busy. For calls. I couldn't figure out why or how that many people were text messaging during the same few hours until I looked at my inbox. I had youth from the church text messaging their entire phonebooks the same mass text message. "I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! And I love you and I'm so thankful for you! This next year is gonna be great!"

What's our world come to? Bulk snail mail to automated political phone calls to mass emails to mass text messages. And this is what shuts down the world.


Dear Nona, You're Hazardous to My Health

I hear the older you get, the more impatient you become. I don't know if it's that, or if it's simply the older I get, the more I'm exposed to increasingly infuriating circumstances. Aside from traffic and annoying people and unsmart people, which could very well be one in the same, Publix is my new most likely place to develop an aneurysm. At least on Thursday afternoons.

I went grocery shopping today, on an empty stomach no less. Always ill-advised for what you'll buy with your stomach and not your brain or wallet. But add to the list a decrease in mental stamina. This fatigue wears on you like you're a pitbull's new chew toy. At least when you're grocery shopping with 90 year olds.

I've never seen so many motorized vehicles indoors before. The Department of Motor Vehicles is going to be getting some letters from me; they really need to require licenses for these things. At least some guidelines. No kids. No blind people. No almost blind people who can't hear or turn their heads 45 degrees either direction. I had SEVERAL near-death experiences today. I might have even peed my pants once. These old people are ruthless. Or clueless. Equally hazardous. Who commits vehicular manslaughter inSIDE Publix? About 4 people today almost did. How are there THAT many motorized carts anyway? Is there a motorized cart dealership around the corner I haven't seen yet? I know I almost ran over two handicapped people in one day because I'm not used to so many motorized carts moseying around town. I see it's a more rampant problem than first assumed.

I walked down aisles and each side would be road-blocked. Opposite sides of the aisle they park. They criss-crossed each other. They'd sit there oblivious to normal social rules of etiquette, existence, decency, LOGIC. Partly because at 90 years old their sight is going, they'd just stare at the shelves. Or maybe they were on their way to picking up the items from the shelves, but they're just SO SLOW that you can't see them moving. Or maybe the nonagenarians are oblivious to the rest of humanity because they have no clue from any of their failing senses that mankind still exists.

I tried to make a turn out of one aisle into the main area by the meats, and I was stuck for a minute and a half. That's valuable grocery time. Wasted on what? Not decisions or poor cashiers and baggers. Not parking or getting a new, cleaner, less-sticky buggy. Not coupons or even drying off from the vegetable sprinklers. Wasted on waiting. I wasted away a little bit today. And might have had an aneurysm in the process. I know my blood pressure spiked. I was tachycardic. All while I just sat there. No flashers. No blinkers. No brakes. Just people, old and focused, parked until they've gotten what they set out to find. You can't say excuse me. They don't hear you. You can't make eye contact, a polite smile or callous scowl. They don't see you. You can't go around. They've managed, with 90 years' experience under their belts, to blockade you better than JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet somehow, if you attempt to move their cart, they know. It's the only sense still working effectively for them. Their 6th sense of cart mechanics and whereabouts. Blind and deaf, with brittle bones and an acute sense of where their motorized cart is at all times. Unreal.

I had to wait to get hamburger because the entire hamburger section was occupied. Twice I turned around and faced the Honey Nut Oats and Bran display. Deep breaths. Counting to a trillion. Digging my fingernails into my own flesh. All the usual ways to compose yourself. All because a man and his wife EACH had a motorized cart. HOW ON EARTH IS THAT LEGAL? Besides the traffic mess it creates indoors, the congestion and backup, the logistics of maneuvering within such a confined space, the havoc it wreaks on your life. HOW IS THAT LEGAL for two people to need motorized carts at the same time? Compassion dictates they are each entitled to one. But NOT AT THE SAME TIME. NOT TOGETHER. How did they GET HERE??! Who's driving the motorized vehicle in the life and death game of chicken on Highway 520?

Apparently we all are. Lucky for them. They're clueless.

The sad thing, or maybe the most frustrating thing about today, is that I was more likely to have had a heart attack in the store than any ONE of them. I was less rattled when my tired exploded just off the interstate a few days ago than I was today (Big thanks by the way, to the woman with the tow truck who helped me figure out my weird jack. And not a big thanks to the man in the other tow truck with the two green front teeth who just watched me change my tire in the rain and puddles.). Today I felt like cattle herded off to the slaughter. The mental pain. The anguish. The claustrophobia. The slowness. The imminence. The hopelessness. The impulse to scream bloody murder or attempt it on any of these nonagenarians who kept ME from MY goal: Efficiency. I was marching, my purpose rendered meaningless, in whatever direction they wanted me to go. I was dominated by 90 year old women. I was emasculated. In essence, I was neutered.

A Grocery Shopping Eunuch.


Of Miscellany

So it was brought to my attention that I haven't blogged since last Friday. I'm fully aware of this, so does that mean it really wasn't brought to my attention? More so, it was brought up. I think that's better. More accurate. Less figurative. Well no, it's still figurative. Or is that idiomatic? Semantic?

Well anyway, about this lull in activity, I suppose I'm recuperating. Or perhaps against the backdrop of my Full Season Sit Through of 24, very little seems noteworthy. A very typical week pales when contrasted to such unrelenting rigor like watching a whole season in one sitting, or even better actually living it out. You know, being a spy. Except I can't confirm or deny any involvement in covert activity. So I'm left to talk of Christmas program choir practices and song-writing. I'm not talking about choir practice, and my songs aren't done yet. (Oh, but when they are, I'll put them online with the others.) No, this week I didn't execute my boss. And no, it's not because I don't have one. It's just a mediocre week with little to talk about, and nothing to show for it to prove it.

So apologetically, this feels forced.

But alas, the show must go on.

I was in Barnes & Noble. Read some of one of those toilet trivia books. The kind that are good if you live alone, but completely unsanitary if not. Well I read about parrots. And it got me thinking. You know how people wonder what kind of animal you'd be? I always say a platypus or if a plant, then a sunflower. Attention seekers, you know? Well, I now think I'd be a parrot. According to this toilet trivia book, the quintessential reference on all things avian, parrots are as social as 5 year olds. And if left unsocialized for inhumane periods of time, they will go mad. Crazy. Develop tics. Pull out feathers. And there's no hope of bringing them back to sanity. Crazy, huh? After my last job doing research in neuropsychology, I not only sympathize with parrots, I think I was a few weeks from joining them.

I want a pet parrot now. Or toucan.

Another interesting discovery: with the creation of the Happy Meal, McDonald's became the world's largest toy distributer.

Sorry, Santa. You just got super-sized.


24 Season 3: Live. It's Over.

My Debrief:
It's 0950 and I'm done. The mission's accomplished. The Full Season Sit Through has been completed. The world is safe for another day.

Sleep Status: I made it. Dozed for 7 minutes. That's well short of the amount of time Jack was unconscious.

The "Facilities" Status: Two reports plus one prior to lockdown.

Food/Water Status: Velveeta Shells and cheese at 0825 this morning. And the Breyer's from last night. (sidenote: I saw Jack with some coffee. Wish I liked coffee.)

SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you don't like plots ruined...
Psychological Status: I'm proud to have served along side you, Jack. I feel like crying too. Playing Russian Roulette, pulling the trigger on your partner, shooting up heroin, executing your boss, and chopping off said partner's hand would make any man cry. Even us.

Thanks to everyone for you support. Your blog posts and myspace and facebook comments and messages and phone calls and text messages were all greatly appreciated. And needed. I'd have given up without it. I did this for you and me and the country. We made history tonight. And saved the world.

Good game, guys. Good game.

Season 4, we're coming for you.

Do. Dee. Do. Dee. Do. Dee.

24 Season 3: Live. 5 Down.

Final disc.

Sleep Status:
In and out of sleepiness. It just depends on the thrill factor of the moment. Still sleep deprived. And still sleep sober.

The "Facilities" Status:
No new incidents to report.

Food/Water Status:
Starting to get hungry again. Still in starvation mode. Only food in past 24 hours is the Breyer's.

Psychological Status:
Finally here. One more disc to go. And the last few episodes have been riveting enough to keep me awake. I'm banking on a clutch performance in these last "4" hours. The last disc is always pretty solid.

Don't disappoint.

24 Season 3: Live. 4 Down.

Another one bites the dust. Starting disc 5. Cinco. Funf.

Sleep Status:
Close call earlier. I almost took Jack up on that Free Nap Voucher from earlier in the day. Not yet though...

The "Facilities" Status:

Food/Water Status:
Still good. Looking into the feasibility of an Easy Mac smorgasboard.

Psychological Status:
I still have sensation in my faculties.

I'm not a fan of this season. Maybe because I'm overloading in one sitting. It's not as captivating as seasons past, but that too could be because I've been at this as long as the characters themselves. More exhausted than excited. If they'd just use me in the field, maybe adrenaline would be more likely to carry the day...

24 Season 3: Live. 3 Down.

Halfway there.

I'm onto disc 4 now. I got sidetracked on what some may call an ill-advised 2 hour break. Good conversation. Needed. It was well worth it to me, but it still wasn't the best strategic move I've made during this Full Season Sit Through.

Sleep Status:
Getting a little drowsy. I need some action.

The "Facilities" Status:
Add another tally mark.

Food/Water Status:
I had some ice cream. Breyer's. I needed the sugar.

Psychological Status:
Mentally fatigued. A little bored.

"Ohhh, we're halfway there...Ohhh oh, livin' on a prayer...Take my hand and we'll make it I swear...Ohhh oh, livin' on a prayer..." -Bon Jovi