Monday, December 21, 2015

This Is Why I Hate Driving. Or At Least Hate Drivers.

For the record - I took this photo sitting in standstill traffic. I do not photo while driving.
My office is located just off of one of the busiest roads in my small southern city. It's a road that was targeted for retail development in a big way, but city planners never really gave much thought to whether or not the the street could actually handle the influx of traffic. At this point, it's become a horror-movie; a four-lane jumble of bad drivers, potholes, cloverleaf merges onto the interstate everyone takes doing like 20 miles an hour just so we can all be terrified, with the kind of Christmas traffic that makes you question your faith in the universe.

Just a few doors down from my office is a QT gas station, located right on that same busy road.

When we first moved to where we live now, there was a QT right down the road that rapidly turned into one of my favorite places to pop by before I drove up into the mountains for my last job. Grab a coffee, a doughnut, a chicken Caesar wrap, a salad... it's basically a gas station with pretensions of being a restaurant, and I am all for that. Especially since this food is actually pretty good.

QT has a mobile app, and my coworker told me about them doing "the 12 days of QT giving", where they gave away something free every day. I signed up for it and today the free item was a small latte.

Yes. It's a gas station with lattes.

Even when I'm picky about my coffee, I'm really not that picky.

After picking up my latte, I took the side entrance out onto a little feeder street that exists basically entirely to get people from a small apartment complex  about a half-mile back onto the aforementioned horrible busy road. With one lane of traffic that heads in the direction of the apartment complex and two lanes going the opposite direction - one that turns right onto Busy Road, and one that turns left onto Busy Road.

I pulled into the left-turning lane, happily sipping my latte, only for a gigantic semi-truck to attempt a ridiculously wide right turn on top of me.

Let's remember, folks; I'm sitting in my own left-turning lane.

This wasn't a "truck makes wide turns" kind of thing. This was him essentially not turning at all and sort of trying to head diagonally across all three lanes of traffic. He would have driven on top of me and still ended up facing the wrong direction towards oncoming traffic trying to turn onto Busy Road.

Now, it turned out for him that my car is actually a solid object he could not simply drive on top of without having to deal with at least some inconvenience on his part and a lot of explanations to his boss as to how he ended up with a massive lawsuit on his hands when he decided he wanted to drive onto the grass at the KFC instead of making an actual right turn.

When I refused to simply stop existing in my lane, he came to a stop and got out of the truck.

He stomped over to me, even more infuriated by what I'm sure was a thoroughly befuddled expression I was wearing.

"YOU ARE IN MY LANE," he shouted.

Oh, good, I thought, we're just going straight to shouting.

Traffic began to back up behind him. I mentioned this is a hugely busy road during Christmas, right?

Now, his back was to all those people, but I can tell you - a few of them were definitely making some communicative gestures he wouldn't have liked.

"This is a left-turn lane," I replied. "I'm waiting to turn left onto Busy Road."

"NO, IT ISN'T! IT IS NOT A LEFT-TURN LANE!" I thought about reminding him that we all learned in kindergarten that talking loudly doesn't actually make you right about something, then thought better of it.

I tried one more time.

"It's a left-turn lane," I said again, gesturing to the three cars who had pulled up behind me into the same lane by this point. "You're blocking me in."

He paused.

The light bulb flickered.

The light bulb went out.


"That doesn't make this not a left-turn lane. That's not how driving works. My light is green and I have to go to work now," I said, I thought very politely. I rolled up my window and pulled out around his semi-truck and made the turn.

So did the three people who were in line behind me.

Last I saw, he was still standing in the road by his truck shouting and gesturing at those of us who had the temerity to want to drive in our own lane of traffic. 

And that, my friends, is what driving on this particular road in December is like in a nutshell.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Tantrum Times

It's happened.

Audra is officially a tantrum-thrower.

They call them the Terrible Twos, but I'm pretty sure that's just a reassuring lie they came up with so people would think they had more time. Sometime within the last week or so, seemingly at random, Audra discovered that she could actually throw a serious fit.

So far as I can tell, the idea came to her fully formed.

She really mastered whining at the exact pitch and volume to really dig into my eardrums a couple of months ago, but that was about where it ended. The occasional protests she put up when expected to let go of a toy for thirty seconds in order to put an arm through a sleeve hardly even counted. We got past them so quickly.

Oh, how lucky we were back then.

These tantrums are to those earlier little fits what a puddle on a rainy day is to the kind of torrents that created the Grand Canyon.

They. Are. Epic.

We're talking total rigidity if she's in our arms, her first indignant cries building up to a serious shrieking of mythical proportions, crocodile tears that have be forced out of her eyes through the sheer violence of her anger, little fists and feet pounding on literally anything within reach, whether it's the floor or Mommy. She flings herself backwards as though she plans to exact her revenge by killing herself on the concrete driveway outside our house.

It's possible that she's not so much suicidal as trying to cause us to die of embarrassment when the neighbors glance over to see what sort of apocalyptic showdown must be happening at our house. Luckily, our neighbors have small children, too (or they are the grandparents of small children), so mostly I get these kind of understanding nods as I attempt to pick up a 25-pound-toddler who suddenly weighs three hundred pounds and is as rigid as a board to carry her back in the house.

Part of the problem, of course, is that at the moment these tantrums are so new that they are also pretty funny. 

There is nothing so ridiculous as watching a child who just managed to grow taller than my knees rage so mightily at being denied the ability to eat a dime she found under a box.

While she beats her feet into the floor and wails at the ceiling, I can't help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all. Of course, this only makes the whole thing worse, because now I have not only denied my daughter that all-important copper and nickel snack, I'm also denying her her dignity.

My current method of dealing with these tantrum-flares, since they have only really happened at home so far, is simply to walk a few feet away and go about my business. "Go ahead, get it out of your system," I say without raising my voice at all. I don't know whether she can even hear me. "Let me know when you're finished."

After the longest thirty seconds-to-five-minutes of my life, she seems to just wear out all at once. She goes still and quiet.

"Are you feeling better?" I ask without looking at her - that only encourages her to start it up again.

She scoots over to me, still determined to refuse to walk without assistance even though she absolutely can, and little arms are held up. Little eyes look up at me, wide and very blue.

I scoop her up immediately. I don't know how long I'll be able to soothe her by picking her up - I plan to make the most of the time I have.

"Do you feel better?" I ask.

"Bah buh mah-boo, nuh too ka," She says softly, and lays her head on my shoulder.

I reply, "I love you, too."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

God is Not in the Loss: A #Wholemama Post

I could have gone a few different ways when writing about ‘still’.

I could have written about the stillness of early morning, when the birds haven’t even woken up and it’s just me, my cup of coffee, and the quiet. I could have written about a state of mind, the idea of serenity, the way we talk about “being still” as a way to listen to ourselves.

I actually wrote most of a post about “still” as it applies to my toddler daughter, functionally incapable of even grasping the concept.

I tried a few different ways to be funny. I’m better at funny – it comes more easily to me to write with a dry humor, putting myself at a little bit of a distance from my subject.

None of it seemed to work.

Instead, I’ve decided to write about tenacity and the “still, small voice” after the fire. It’s not about motherhood exactly, I guess, except that I’m only a mother as much as I’m a daughter, too.

Read the rest of the post over at Erika Shirk's blog Overflow, where I am the featured poster this week for #wholemama.

Today's post is my fourteenth while participating in the #wholemama link up. This week's theme was "still". You can find the linkup here over on Erika Shirk's blog Overflow. My other posts as part of the linkup have been Hurry Up and Wait, She is HomeI Used to Think I Couldn't DanceCalmA Hard Leap Off a High CliffMotherhood on PurposeOn Reading and PeaceI Lay You Down to Sleep, My LoveWhen It Rains... Celebrate,Parenting is SillyAnything But OrdinarySpacePrayer, and A Supermom is a Sleep-Deprived Mom

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait: A #Wholemama Post

Toddlers are a great lesson in what it looks like when you don’t know how to wait.

Every minute is an eternity. The seconds that might tick by in the time between her requesting milk and my ability to put the cup in her hand stretch out into unacceptable infinity. I think to toddlers we adults must move slowly, like a giant tortoise lumbering by while they move at super-speed.

By the time I can even get the lid off of the milk, her initial polite request (delivered via the “more” sign, which in her mind means anything from “milk” to “food” to “no, not THAT food, this other food”) will have begun to morph into the full-throated, ear-piercing whine that is every toddler’s innate specialty.

She takes the milk from my outstretched hand and drinks noisily, immediately content, forgetting she was ever impatient at all. Meanwhile, my blood pressure is already up and the echo of her whine is still bouncing off the inside of my skull. Just about the time that echo dies down, she thinks of something else she wants and the process begins again.

I find myself occasionally wishing I could wait the way she does -- that is to say, there are days I’d like to whine, too, to stomp my feet and fling myself backwards or throw myself face-first off the couch in my frustration and know implicitly that I won’t hit the floor too hard when wrapped up in emotions because someone else will have already caught me before my head touches the hardwood floor.  

Toddlers do not wait, and they swing wildly between a kind of unthinking courage and helpless anxiety.