Monday, August 17, 2015

Mean People Suck

I almost had such a good day today.

Well, scratch that. I had such a good day today, until I didn't.

Zozo started 4th grade today, which was awesome. We snapped our First Day photos this morning and I drove her to school (first time ever...I have always walked her on her first day, but this year there's The Damn Boot) and then blasted my stereo on the way to work, singing as loud as I could. I turned around three major projects today, and am nearing a fourth. I caught an error on the class composite picture, so now every student's name will be spelled correctly. My most vaunted proofer found only a small handful of changes on a huge layout, and many of them were preference issues, not errors. I laughed with colleagues and got an incredible amount of work finished. I tore out 15 minutes later than I wanted to pick up Zoe, but I was still well within the time frame to get her before after care closed. Life was good, baby.

I took a different way to get home, opting for the highway in the hopes it would shave a minute or two off my commute. They recently changed the intersection there, making two lanes turn left to get on the entrance ramp. I chose the far left lane, and thought that having two lanes would be a huge help entering the highway as it always gets congested there (which is why I normally go the other way). I was preoccupied, already planning dinner in my head and hoping Zoe wasn't the last kid at after care because even though I get there before closing that always makes me feel guilty.

What I didn't realize was that while the highway department made two lanes to get on the entrance ramp, they left the entrance ramp merge back down to one, well before meeting the highway. I didn't realize this until I saw a Jeep off my right front quarter panel, blinker on. I looked up to see the young, female driver's mirrored sunglasses looking right at me, waiting to see if I'd let her over. She was slowing down, so we were getting closer and closer. I thought, "Oh, shit. You need to get over!" and raised my hand, waving her over while I too slowed down. That's when I saw her male passenger, practically out of his front seat and leaning well behind hers. He was facing me, throwing up a rude gesture, face contorted in rage and screaming what I can only presume was a litany of expletives. I continued to wave the Jeep over and slowed down, astonished at what I was seeing. They got in front, and he turned back around, apparently satisfied that his freakout achieved the desired results.

I am so bummed by this. Was that behavior really necessary? Did he have to be so violently rude and annoyed? Was my offense worthy of that level of rage? Is this what our world has devolved to? I see people flame each other online. I watch women with strollers struggling to get through doors while the people behind them either get visibly annoyed or use another door, no one stopping to help. Are we too far gone to open doors for each other? I see people demand things to which they obviously believe they are entitled even when clearly they are not, others be damned. What happened to kindness? To compassion? To tolerance and civility and the benefit of the doubt? Why the fuck must we be so terrible to each other?

What I can't figure out is why this is bothering me so much. No one likes to be the target of unadulterated rage, I guess. Especially when I hadn't even meant to upset anyone. We're all just trying to get on the highway, people. No need to rage.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Open Mic, the train station, and my left foot

I went to Open Mic last night, as usual, and was blown away by the words shared there, as usual.

I don't get every reading. I think it would be impossible for every person in the audience (most of them writers themselves) to get every reading, but that's okay, too. I like knowing that the mind works and churns in vast, infinite ways, like amniotic fluid swirls to create our fingerprints. It gives me great hope for humanity, and makes me want to write more.

On the way to Open Mic last night I thought of a new writing project. I'm a little stuck on Zoe's Book, which is what I've taken to calling the middle-grade novel I started writing after the story idea popped into my head and I thought it might be something she and her friends would like. It's maybe half finished. I have the big reveal at the end set up in my head, and all the character introduction generally written, but I'm having trouble muddling through the middle. I need to sit down and chart the course, chapter by chapter, in an outline. Next month's Writers Guild seminar looks promising in that it is supposed to feature a framework for doing just that. In the meantime, I have been searching around for a good set (read: a free set, 'cause I'm cheap frugal) of writing prompts, but the ones I found weren't inspiring or even mildly motivating.

We went to Chicago last weekend for a last "get out of town" mini-vacation before the school year starts. It was wonderful and we had a blast (American Girl, horse-drawn carriage ride, dinner in the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock, dinner at M's favorite Italian joint, Volare, etc.) and I took lots of touristy pictures (Zoe in front of the horse that pulled our carriage, Zoe in front of the American Girl star, Zoe in front of the Adler Planetarium) and we had Quality Family Time.

But before we left, while waiting in the station for our late train to arrive, is when inspiration struck. M and Zoe wandered outside to wait for the train's arrival while I stood in line with all our bags. I looked around and absorbed the sights and sounds of a combined bus and train station. Turns out that buses and trains attract very different passengers, and seeing them all mixed together in a joint waiting area was fascinating. I started taking notes on my cell phone, seeing these people as incredible characters in a story that throws them all together for this one moment in time. So I think I'm going to embark on a little series of character studies, creating histories and backstories and whole personalities based on the tiny but fascinatingly detailed snapshots of people I saw for less than an hour in a train station in St. Louis. We'll see what comes of it.

In other news, buried here at the bottom in the hopes that most of you have stopped reading by now and won't be grossed out completely: my podiatrist is removing the pin from my toe today, and the stitches. Yay! Still in the boot, but now I'll at least get to wash my foot. Never, ever underestimate the power of a clean foot. It can transform a whole personality. I've been dreaming about being able to wash that foot for a week now. I'm ready. I'll be a whole new woman. Just watch.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

National Days of Ridiculousness

M called us on the way home from work yesterday to announce that he had just heard on the radio that it was National Chocolate Chip Day. Naturally, as soon as he came home, we opened the bag of chocolate chips and celebrated as we made dinner.

Today, on the way home from her piano lesson, Zoe asked what National Day it is today. As we waited in line at the pharmacist I googled it on my phone. Turns out today is National Underwear Day. I'm not entirely sure how the American population is expected to celebrate this day, but my daughter has chosen to wear her underwear on her head in a show of support. (Note: she is also wearing underwear in the regular, expected place, too.)

This all got me to thinking. Is there a National Day of everything? And doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of having National Days? Nothing is special if everything is celebrated. I mean, do we really need a special day to celebrate underwear?

This month alone, we have:
  • National Coloring Book Day (August 2)
  • National Grab Some Nuts Day (August 3) - this one could get interesting depending on interpretation of the word "nuts."
  • National Fresh Breath Day (August 6) - again, I'd prefer people I know to celebrate this every day
  • National Wiggle Your Toes Day - same day as Fresh Breath, so we're covering the whole head-to-toe thing.
  • National Son's and Daughter's Day (August 11), which you'd think could be celebrated concurrently with National Kid's Day (August 1), but nooooooo.
  • National Julienne Fries Day (August 12) - no special day for you, Home Fries!
  • National I LOVE My Feet Day (August 17)
  • National Waffle Day (August 24) - I could seriously get behind this one.
  • National Kiss and Make Up Day (August 25) - for this, you must instigate a fight with your spouse on August 24 so as to be truly prepared to celebrate on August 25.
  • National Secondhand Wardrobe Day (also August 25) - unexplainable.
  • National Women's Equality Day (August 26) - again, hello, EVERY DAMN DAY.
  • National Just Because Day (August 27) - because...just because.
  • National Chop Suey Day (August 29) - I prefer moo goo gai pan, but whatever.
  • National Toasted Marshmallow Day (August 30) - Zoe's birthday, so, entirely appropriate.
I didn't even list everything. It's too much. You can check it out here, along with all the National Days of every month.

I have a few proposals based on my own personal experience. This year, there should be two National Bunion Days (one for each foot, naturally), eight National Girl Scouts Drive Me to Drink Day (to be celebrated the days we have meetings), a National I Finally Found Decent Kitty Litter That is Dust-Free and Doesn't Track Day (hallelujah), and National My Window Treatments Finally Came In Day. I'd also like to celebrate National Repairman Day, which would have been two weeks ago when I had the fridge repairman, plumber, and washing machine repairman all at my house on the same day.

I'm sure, given time, I could come up with more. These are just my recent celebrations. I better get going. I have a lot to celebrate, including, today, National Oyster Day.