Sunday, June 15, 2008


It was bound to happen eventually.

Saturday, the latest in a string of early risings, only this time for no reason. Last year I watched dozens of racing bikes hum down an ill-advised hill at an even more ill-advised speed. There were no crashes. But we were there. This time there were no crashes (as far as I know), but we were not there since the rest of the crew didn't show. My powers of invisibility were great yesterday, my questions met with shrugs and blank stares, turning away to more interesting conversation, punctuated by the occasional unreturned phone call. I completed some other tasks as the darkness descended. I was angry, but not because of this. It was time to go home. I had to walk a few blocks through merriment I wanted no part of just to find the person who had parked me in.

I hate people, I thought.

I tasted that thought, contemplative, settling into it like an ominous easy chair, pressing my shoulder blades into its sumptuous upholstery, my elbows resting on its portentous girth.

I don't know what other people do when they feel this way. Actually, I take that back. I do know what they do. They drink and fight and fall down and take things they shouldn't or buy things they shouldn't or otherwise do what they shouldn't to avoid the feeling, push back the sucking dark. Sometimes we have to go after them, get them out, wrap them up and strap them down, feeling for damage while they search our faces with anxious eyes, attempting hope and excuses for trying and failing to ride the tide. I opted to hide in the house. Hating people pretty much means you should avoid them for a little while. It definitely implies that, at least in the short term, you should probably not attempt to render quality emergency medical service. I ignored a text for a transfer, knowing no drivers were available anyway. I pulled my pager out of my waistband and shoved it in my purse, thumbing it off as it went. Off went the phone. 1R-259 is OOS, I wanted to write on the whiteboard in the garage. Only I have to do my own warranty work.

Today may be better only because I'm still in the house. But its better. One by one necessary chores get done. I'm at least willing to look out the window, and I may even go out there, soon. I know this sabbatical is short, no more than a day. There are things to do, you see. Obligations to the family I adopted and persuaded to set a place for me, the brothers, the sisters (maybe), the God who watches over us, shaking His head, protecting what we do not treasure.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Whatever you do...don't mention the war....

Its been a long week. Its actually Saturday, so I have some other fun and excitingness from my day off with The Old Folks if I get to it, but this was Thursday's fun. (Note, this was written Saturday but I was in a cranky mood and didn't get it done and now its Tuesday. That's the rodeo, kids.)

First of all, it was hot. Now, its summer. That's to be expected. But here in the land of Winter Which Never Ends, we tend to have a sense of entitlement, as though bearing such a long season of frigid unpleasantness entitles us to a summer to dabble our toes in creeks while flowers bloom in the low humidity.

Instead, we had a weeklong heatwave in the upper 90s that has abated somewhat, leaving us clammy, chafed, and in danger of wildfires. We are not amused.

Yesterday I had some appointments in my extreme western coverage area. On those days it isn't unusual for me to drive more than 200 miles from place to place. I don't mind this anymore; it was an adjustment but now I just chew whole packs of Orbit and enjoy being alone with my soothing, pleasant, not at all obsessive thoughts.

Did I mention the A/C in the company car is broken?

After successfully maneuvering around the three detours along my route I was on final approach to my first appointment, a nearly three hour drive from home. Five minutes from my destination I drive through a rare pocket of actual cell service long enough for my phone to come alive. Of course, the customer, who badgered us for the first available appointment from the second she first called, has called to reschedule. Sick child. I call her and after refusing my polite begging to see me anyway because I'm so close (and I can hear the little bugger just talking his head off in the background so how sick is he really and what do I care, its not like he's going to do my taxes or something) she asks if I can come Saturday or Sunday. Um, no. We reschedule and I turn around to go BACK two counties to my other two appointments.

My second appointment is on a road so convoluted my map program failed me and I had to fall back on the county 911 readressing maps. I chose to come in from my direction of travel rather than off the main hardtop two lane. (An aside for those of you who live in civilization; I make the distinction 'hardtop' because not all the roads around here are paved, nor will they ever be. I got used to that right around the time I found and discarded the last empty Starbucks cup from under the seat in my car. )

Two miles into the hinters I see the 'No Winter Maintenance' sign. Slowly the road narrows until I am convinced that around the next bend it will simply end and my van will be surrounded by ninjas. I bottom out once. I swear a lot. I leave the cover of the forest and continue on dry dirt roads that afford the sensation of clapping erasers directly on your face for eight miles. Welcome to BFE. Population: You. But the addresses are finally creeping up toward the number I'm looking for. Occasionally, I pass someone who stares with the blank incomprehension of someone who has seen water buffalo crashing through the underbrush. I finally see the address I want and swing gratefully into the driveway. Inexplicably, I now have cell service.
I wish I had a funny story about the customer, but she was just your average cheerful German immigrant with a three story Bavarian chalet reproduction in the middle of nowhere that I chatted with on a terrace covered with flowers and hummingbirds. You know, the kind of thing one does every day. Though there were a couple awkward moments where we silently regarded framed photos of some of her family members. In military uniforms. *crickets*.
Just to set this clip up for you, Basil's had a nasty knock to the head. Its affecting his judgement. For those of you who have never seen it. What follows has been a favorite joke of my friends and I for a long time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday $0.02

What's this picture got to do with anything? Nothing. Nothing at all. I just thought it was cute. And since my sister in law can post pictures with impunity on cuteness alone, darn it, so can I. Occasionally the cat decides I've done enough writing and he walks across and drops on my journal like a warm sack of crap. Then I slide him off and keep going. And yes, sometimes I write on PAPER with an ACTUAL PEN. Crazy, huh?

Today was the second day I was out on the road, doing my thing in my plush 1999 Dodge Caravan luxury company car with the busted AC. I spent most of today mashing the seek button looking for music that didn't irritate the bejeebus out of me. I had to settle for morning DJ's talking about fish sandwich farts and the eleventy millionth playing of Cheap Trick's Surrender. Please. What would it cost me bribe-wise for them never to play that song again? I'd seriously consider a small personal loan to make this happen. Every time I hear it it makes a little less sense and a piece of my soul dies.

Think you can get all the way through it? Okay, smartypants.

The heat makes me cranky. I drove through Ithaca today, normally one of my favorite places, but I wasn't in the mood for the dreadlocked smelly hippie Earth Motherlyness of it today. So I skipped the co-op and swung into Wegmans for my mid-trip pee and coffee (known as the drop-off and pick-up) but had to skip the pickup because, inexplicably, there were 29 members of the Red Hat Society in line for coffee. Even their hip oldlady cuteness was annoying.

Yesterday I wore a skirt because, again, it was ninety-plus degrees and it was the lightest thing I own. I quickly remembered why I NEVER wear skirts in my line o' work, because the customer's border collie followed me around for several minutes sticking his head underneath it so he could smell my butt while I surreptitiously whacked him on the head with a plastic clipboard, counting on my skirt to muffle the crack of it making contact with his skull. Dog owners: please, when your dog sticks his nose in a visitors butt, particularly when they are wearing a SKIRT, please do not chuckle, DO NOTHING, and say "He's got to know who everyone is!" If that is the case, this dog now knows I'm someone who was ten seconds away from kicking him in the chest when he was finally dragged off by the collar and sequestered with their third shift- working son, asleep in a back bedroom.

Tonight I put on my Treasurer hat for the Ambulance Association meeting, which in my usual fashion I will diffuse the tension of by sketching amusing cartoons of my fellow EMTs during the meeting while looking like I'm taking copious notes. I hope its a do it and git done kind of enterprise because my tolerance for man-drama is short today.

Trudge on over to Humor Blogs, where no one ever puts their nose in your butt. Unless you want them to.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Forbidden Post

"Don't you go and blog about this!"

I hear that pretty often. You see, my husband doesn't want to be the source of amusement for my several fans. So the time he discovered for the very first time that piece of tissue that attaches his upper lip to his head and thought something was periodontally amiss with his gums, and the time he cut himself and convinced me on the phone that his finger was dangling off BY A SINEW so I had knots in my stomach all the way home from work only to find a 1 cm laceration that needed a bandaid, I was told. "Don't you go and blog about this!" He is a wealth of delicious stories and private amusements that will never make this electronic page. But on this, his 39th birthday, I have decided to write in praise of my wonderful husband.

We met in college, so at this writing we've known each other close to twenty years, and we've been married for 11 1/2 of those years. He was the student editor of the Minnemingo Review, a literary journal published by our alma mater, Messiah College. I was a lowly editorial assistant whose charge it was to go to the library and slog through the pile of submissions to find the printable among them. Bryan had Final Approval of all we deemed acceptable. We had mutual friends, but I assumed he was too cool, to remote to be interested in the likes of lil ol' me. When a friend casually mentioned that he would probably appreciate some correspondence after graduation, I obliged. Our epistolary relationship slowly turned into a visiting one, then ever so imperceptably, a dating one, and a few years later we were getting married. We lived five hours apart until our wedding day.

Our first apartment was ridiculously small, and we lived there a year and a half, after which we moved across the hall to an only slightly less ridiculously small place and stayed for eight YEARS. For the first ten years of our marriage we had neither a separate kitchen from the living room nor a door on the bedroom. We were paying off numerous school debts and whatnot and we were stupid broke. But we never wanted for friends or fellowship; his nature made making connections in our little apartment building easy.

I mention all that because I think about the fact that no matter our situation, we were happy. We enjoy each other's company a great deal. I never cared that we were in two rooms. I never got tired of him. When a job change necessitated his moving ahead of me and our maintaining two seperate households for four months, I was deeply miserable. (Read the posts from the summer of 2005 if you care to....most of the misery is catalogued for your convenience.) While some of my best girlfriends have drifted to opposite poles and their own lives, he is a best friend I can always count on, one who will empty a mousetrap, cut the grass, and assist in the washing of the dishes, even if he does exasperate me a little by handing back items that aren't up to snuff. One who will visit the elderly parents of a former downstate co-worker that he wasn't even that close to simply because they live nearby. One who will tolerate my midnight dashes to the station to tend to a stranger's crisis without (much) complaint.

And one who decided yesterday that he wanted his birthday cards diverted to me because I spent my birthday money on gas and groceries. Because he's like that. There's much more to admire; like the fact that he runs up and down mountains for fun. Or his writing, or his reading, his spiritual pursuits, or his fine mind in general. But my lunch hour is almost over.

Happy Birthday, baby. I love you.

(And see? I didn't tell about the fire department coming for the stove fire. Or the sparkly towel/Communion incident. )

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thanks, Bo....

I've been on the road all day so I just learned that Bo Diddley died, he was 79.

When I was 17 I went to New Orleans with my mom. (More details of that trip here.) We went to Storyville Jazz Hall one night and I sat so close to the stage we dodged sweat fling. He was loud, a little raunchy, and one of the best guitar players I've ever seen live. We sat at a table in the humid hall, fans turning lazily overhead, drinking whiskey sours and feeling like we'd been dropped into an entirely different life. Here's a little bit of Bo for ya:

Also, thanks to IMDB, my favorite Bo Diddley movie cameo. You'll just have to imagine it, since stupid YouTube doesn't have it. Its from Trading Places.... Louis is trying to get some money together to sort himself out and has this discussion with a pawnbroker:

Pawnbroker: Burnt my fingers, man.
Louis Winthorpe III: I beg your pardon?
Pawnbroker: Man, that watch is so hot, it's smokin'.
Louis Winthorpe III: Hot? Do you mean to imply stolen?
Pawnbroker: I'll give you 50 bucks for it.
Louis Winthorpe III: Fifty bucks? No, no, no. This is a Rouchefoucauld. The thinnest water-resistant watch in the world. Singularly unique, sculptured in design, hand-crafted in Switzerland, and water resistant to three atmospheres. This is *the* sports watch of the '80s. Six thousand, nine hundred and fifty five dollars retail!

Pawnbroker: You got a receipt?
Louis Winthorpe III: Look, it tells time simultaneously in Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome, and Gstaad.
Pawnbroker: In Philadelphia, it's worth 50 bucks.

For some reason, "In Philadelphia, its worth 50 bucks" has become a guiding philosophy for me.

Yes, perhaps movies are a bit too much part of my life. But thanks and farewell to one of the greats.