Tag Archives: driving

Up Early

We are jet lagged, or better yet, I am jet lagged. Everyone else in this house is over it but I am clinging to the sleep disruption like an infant. For the most part, I am fine. I enjoy the hours between four and seven — the house is empty, the TV is mine and I can bask in a few hours of super-productivity. The downside kicks in at five p.m. when I have to be physically restrained so as not to maim a child. I am tired and irritable and I can be around nobody. 

Except for Lois. 

That damn cat was so happy to see me when I came home from our two weeks away. I don’t think anybody has ever been that happy to see me and my kids go to sleepaway camp. She has slept on my head for the last few nights, just to make sure I’m here, which isn’t great for my allergies, but I can handle it.

I took her to the vet today for her yearly wellness visit. She’s been with us for over a year, but this was MY first time at the vet. The vet is a friend and usually comes to get Lois and drives her in. This time, however, I shoved Lois into a cat carrier and drove her to New Jersey. 

You may not know this about me but I am a nervous driver. I am an especially nervous driver in New Jersey. First, there is a bridge and I HATE driving over bridges. But in NJ you have to drive sandwiched in between angry trucks and the highway splits and forks with no notice. I inevitably miss all my exits and spend twice as much time in New Jersey as I need to. 

But I did it for Lois. 

She was not happy. She immediately began to cry in the car. This is how sad she looked in her cat carrier: 

 
So, I let her out. That’s right – I made the biggest rookie cat owner mistake and let her roam freely in the minivan while I drove in the rain. In the rain in New Jersey. (Did I mention that the van hit 100,000 miles this week? It did!) Lois kept crying but she did it from under my seat, near my feet, and the whole time I kept thinking: OH MY EFFING GOD. SHE IS GOING TO MAKE A SUDDEN MOVE AND I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO DIE IN NEW JERSEY AND SPRINGSTEEN ISN’T EVEN HERE TO SEE IT. 

At some point she moved to the seat next to me and stared at me until I got to our destination. I think she went 20 minutes without blinking. Cats can do shit like that. When we arrived, I shoved her back in the box and took her inside to the vet. They immediately weighed her.  

 Of course, I didn’t quite get that Lois doesn’t have the same relationship with a scale at the doctor’s office that I do. 

“In the box?” I asked. 

Yes, I was told. They weigh the box separately and calculate her weight. 

“What about her collar? There are some heavy tags on there.” 

“Huh?” 

I stopped talking. 

Lois was a rock star at the vet (who in addition to being a friend, happens to be a rock star vet) and I learned from my mistake and kept her in the box on the way home. 

And now I have to go because I have writing to do and I only have a few more hours before bedtime. 

Goodnight. 

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Filed under cats, driving, Jet lag, pets

Love Me, Love My Van.

Usually I get stopped twice a month by a man in a car offering to fix the dings in my minivan. It is usually in a parking lot. I am usually polite, but firm in my refusal.

This week, however, I was stopped four times, twice in one day, and it is only Thursday.

“Hey lady! I can fix that good for you!”

“Hey lady! Why do you wanna drive around all banged up?”

Today a man pulled alongside me in his pretty golden convertible, AS I WAS DRIVING. He looked so sad when I told him, as I do all these men that I’d love the van to be all fixed up and pretty, but given that I’m likely to bang it all up again the very next day, it does seem somewhat unnecessary at best, wasteful at worst.

The man in the convertible looked like as though tears were about to spring from his eyes.

“For real?” he asked, his car still moving alongside mine like a shiny dolphin keeping up with a big, ugly, banged-up ship.

Quoting Fiona, I shot back: “Yes. For real life.”

Had I not turned down a street and driven away, I am sure he’d have offered to do it for free.

I wonder now what was most upsetting to him: the scratches, the dents, the duct tape holding the bumpers together, or the scars of duct tape past?

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Filed under driving, Minivans, New York City

End of year exhaustion is not just anecdotal…

Can you see this?

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This is the gate I use almost daily after I drop Sid off at school. It’s up a little hill on the way out of her preschool parking lot. It opens automatically as you approach. It’s a tad on the slow side though. Often I sit for a moment or two.

What I really, really want to know is this: Is there something wrong with me if I, at least twice a week, I try to open this gate with my garage opener from my house?

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Filed under children, driving, New York City, parenting, school

My Mustache Mirror

Pulled out of the garage and slid on some ice right into the basketball hoop, tearing off my left side mirror.

I blame the ice, but it really happened because Sidney was yelling at me, and had been for about an hour.

This three year old is killing me. And she’s seriously cramping my style. A minivan is bad enough.

And now this? (Only duct tape I could find)

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Filed under children, parenting, snow, winter

Car Talk.

I hate to drive. And it’s not just because I drive a minivan. I have always hated to drive. Even when I had the luxury of being in a car alone and didn’t feel like an under-dressed flight attendant, having to provide snacks for dissatisfied passengers (Seat 3b wants a sippy cup! What? You only have cheese crackers?), or when I could actually listen to the music or news that I selected, and wasn’t forced to listen to Elmo shrieking at me or didn’t have to suffer through Top 40 music that sounds like a) a drunken toddler penned it and b) it’s being sung from the bottom of a tin can (holy crap, did I just get really old?) , I never for the life of me understood WHY people went for a drive to unwind. Going for a drive winds me up. I have always found the entire enterprise incredibly stressful, but nothing in the world winds me up more than running errands in my car, the picking up and dropping off, the constant climbing in and out and arranging of bags and boxes and coffee cups that fit in no holder. And I promise, it isn’t just because my car looks like this:

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Even if I weren’t behind the wheel of dinged up, dented in, couch-on-wheels, I’d still hate to drive. The only thing I like about driving, and again, this has to match up against all the reasons I hate to drive is this: It is an incredibly effective way to talk to the children.

Car talk is good talk, at least it can be. And it isn’t just because we’re all held hostage — nobody can storm out, walk into another room and turn on the TV, and Crocs and glass bottles aside (ahem, see more here), nobody can even get up to pee. I think it’s because we are all facing forward, all pointed in the same direction, all headed to the same place. Not only are the distractions few, but there is no pressure to make eye contact or keep a straight face. The space is smaller than our dining room, but in some ways feels more expansive than the table because the fidgeter can fidget, the smirker can smirk, and the dreamer can gaze out the window.

Sometimes the topics are weighty. Subjects I’ve saved for a drive. Subjects that may be too embarrassing for face discussion in the round. The eye-roller can roll with reckless abandon and the blusher can blush away.

And sometimes I don’t choose the topics at all, like this one:

Over the weekend I was driving the children somewhere or other and I look in the rear view mirror and notice a child (we’ll call him “E” to protect his identity, and you can all pretend you never heard this should you meet him) put his right hand behind his head as his left hand starts to rub his chest. He does this for a while.

“E,” I ask. “What ARE you doing?”

“Oh,” he says, looking up at me. “I am giving myself a breast self-exam, like it says to do on the thing you have hanging in your shower. I do it all the time!”

“Oh yeah!” Pipes another child, who shall remain anonymous. “I love that thing!”

“What? Are you guys serious?” I ask.

“Of course,” E says. “And now I am making small circular movements and working my way to the center.”

“Nipples!” Cries the other child.

Really. I start to take this all in and then E disappears from sight.

“Where HAVE you gone?” I ask.

“I AM NOW LYING DOWN!” he shouts from the very back of the minivan. “THE CARD ALSO SAYS YOU SHOULD DO THE EXAM WHILE LYING ON YOUR BACK!!”

Yes it does, and yes, he is. And yes, you really cannot make this stuff up.

Only in the minivan, people. Only in the minivan.

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Filed under children, driving, parenting, travel, Uncategorized

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I pulled up to a red light on Sunday and stopped behind this:

Ok, maybe not this exact truck, but by the time I realized what I was looking at, I felt so utterly queasy, I could never have begun to work the camera on my iPhone. (Please do not ask me what I had to Google to get this image.)

Truth be told, the objet I was behind was far classier. It was silver, and hence, it looked something like this:

It was bad enough when the car was stopped, but once the light turned green, the car began to move, and in turn, the item hanging off the back began to swing back and forth, like a pendulum, swing, swing, swing. I shudder to think what I would have said had one of the kids leaned forward and asked, “Mum, what ARE those things hanging off the back of that truck?” but frankly, it’d be disingenuous of me to claim I was merely trying to protect the children from this nastiness. I am (among many other things) a card-carrying prude, or as a friend and fellow-prude calls me, a Victorian.  It is my firm belief that nobody should to have to look at testicles, of any sort, while driving, and you can quote me on that. I put up with a lot of stuff stuck to the back of these trucks, even here in socialist Seattle, but I draw the line at testicles. You can quote me on that, too.

Therefore, truck drivers of the world, I beg you: Castrate your automobiles and make the road friendly again. Or at the very least Victorian-friendly.

Thank you.

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Filed under parenting, Uncategorized