Sunday, May 26, 2013

Let's Go, Don't Wait

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
                                       -Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

For twelve years, I've been driving almost the exact same route to work. (I say almost because for the first year of this job, I lived in a different house, but even then, the drive was essentially the same. It just started a few miles closer to work. For simplicity's purpose, the drive to work I describe will only be the current one.) It goes like this:

1. Leave my development.
2. Turn left on Nova Drive.
3. Turn right on University.
4. Turn right on Miramar Parkway.
5. Turn left on Douglas Road.
6. Arrive in Hell (ha! Just kidding. Maybe).

Sounds simple enough. And it is.
But there's more to the drive than that.

In addition to turns and straight shots, there are lights. So many lights. In the beginning, even after I moved here, there weren't quite so many of them, but in the last few years, they've added a few around my house, and holy crap are they annoying. I know all lights are annoying, but these are the annoying kind of lights that are there for no apparent reason, lights in low-traffic areas where no lights are needed, lights that turn red to let one single car cross the intersection and then stay red long enough for a procession of babies to crawl across the street, lights that seemingly do nothing but interrupt the flow of traffic, causing commuters to waste gas and minutes as they idle for a long enough amount of time to go from amiable to not.

But these aren't the lights that interest me.

The lights that interest me are the other lights. The lights that have always been there.

In this order, heading south:

Davie Road Extension
The light at Memorial Pembroke
The light at Pembroke Commons
The light where all the Broward County school buses are
The light at Sherman Circle
Miramar Parkway

You may not have ever noticed this, but lights have a pattern. My lights' pattern is

depending when I leave the house, Griffin is sometimes red although usually it's green. Stirling and Davie Road Extension are green; Sheridan is red as I approach but turns green just as I get there; the light at Memorial Pembroke, Taft, Johnson, and Pembroke Commons are green; Pines is red; the light where the school buses are is green unless a car driving out has triggered it to be red; Pembroke is green; and depending on how on time I am for work, Miramar Parkway can be green or red (this is due to the amount of traffic in that area. If I'm running late, there's enough of a traffic backup to affect the cars moving through the light).

In my description, I purposely avoided using "always," but it wasn't easy. A few times I wrote it and then went back and took it away. If I'd written this blog a year ago, I wouldn't have had to do that, but in the last year, something crazy has happened.

The pattern has changed.

No, that's not true. Not has changed. Changed, as in was briefly different on more than one occasion, but is the same once again.

The first time it happened was earlier this school year when the light at Pines was green. I know a change in whether a light is red or green doesn't seem like it would garner much attention, but if you stopped at the same light every weekday from August through June for eleven years and then one morning sailed right through it, believe me--you'd notice. I certainly did. Every time I drove through it, it was something of which I was very aware, but it didn't last for very long. After three or four days, the light was back to being red, and my mornings were back to being normal.

Not ever again at Pines, but over the school year, the same thing has happened a few more times. The light at Pembroke has been red although usually it's the green I've always been accustomed to; Taft and/or Johnson are red once in a while (though never ever will they both be red on the same day); and once or twice, the lights must have shorted at Sheridan because the light's been red and stayed that way. But really, no matter what happens to shake up my morning and disrupt the flow between work and home, no matter how long the change lasts, making me think the pattern will be different for good, it eventually goes back to what I've always known. 


Whatever you're thinking right now, the answer is yes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I have a little problem with magazines, and what I mean when I say little problem is that I subscribe to Cosmopolitan, Self, Glamour, Allure, Marie Claire, the Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Cooking Light (I let my Redbook, Fitness, and Shape subscriptions lapse. Shame on me).

In years gone by, I'd read each one the night it showed up in my mailbox, but for some reason, even though this is the first year in the last five that I'm not in grad school and the first in the last ten that I'm not teaching night school, I don't feel like I have time to do that. Now when they come, instead of reading them, I take them out of their (unnecessary) plastic bags and find them space on my increasingly cluttered coffee table, fully intending to get around to them later in the week.

Last Saturday and Sunday I read about seventeen magazines.

During my magazine-a-thon over the weekend, while I was catching up on the last 3 issues of the Atlantic (a magazine, along with Vanity Fair, that I subscribed to in an effort to convince myself that I'm at least a little bit highbrow, but which did nothing but convince me that what I am is decidedly lowbrow), I came across what I soon realized was a monthly feature: a pie chart. These monthly pie charts take a subject, presumably survey people about different aspects of the subject, and then present statistics.

At a time when I was struggling with major decisions regarding my marriage, the subject of February's pie chart, the 3-month-old issue that I just happened to be reading in the middle of May, was marriage.

Because I no longer have the magazine, I don't remember the exact premise of the pie chart, but because I took a picture of the section that interested me, I do know the exact focus of one piece of the pie:

Which one of these marriage vows is hardest to keep?

The choices (or at least all the choices that fit into the picture on my phone)?

To be faithful
For better or for worse
In sickness and in health
For richer, for poorer

I repeat

To be faithful
For better or for worse
In sickness and in health
For richer, for poorer

Wait one cotton pickin' minute.

There are vows other than the vow to stay faithful?

I've been married so long, I guess I must have forgot. 

I know you probably don't believe that. I barely believe that myself. It is, after all, pretty unbelievable. But really. Marriage vows are something I haven't thought about in years. Probably 15 of them.

You'd think that, being an adulterer, the adultery part would be the part I'd home in on.

It wasn't.

Probably, if I had to guess, the reason for my lack of interest in that statistic is that, unlike vows in general, which I hadn't thought about in practically forever, adultery is something I think about all the time. Marriage vows in their totality, though--I think about them never.

And one of those that I think about never, well, after seeing it in that pie chart, I couldn't stop thinking about it:

For better or for worse

For better


for worse

For worse
For worse
For worse


Things are definitely worse.

Over the past four years, they've been "worse" a lot. And you know what I do every time they are?

I tell Glenn I want a divorce.

I can't do this anymore, I say.

I can't live like this, I cry.

I seek escape because I can't deal with worse.

I can't deal with worse, but-- 

I made a vow*.

From the beginning, worse was a possibility, and still--

I made a vow.

A vow.

*Vow: a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition (Merriam-Webster)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

You're All Mixed Up Like Pasta Primavera

Let me tell you a story about (a man named Jed--I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself)--

Let me try this again.

Let me tell you a story about (not Jed not Jed not Jed!) karma.

About a month ago, Griffin signed me up to make cracker candy to sell at a fundraiser called Relay for Life. The night before the event, after my weekly Friday coffee outing with the kids, I walked over to Publix from Starbucks to buy the ingredients: butter, brown sugar, crackers, and 2 bags of chocolate chips. I also bought pizza dough for that night's dinner.

It was pouring like crazy, and I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but nobody (but me) has any idea how to drive in the rain, so the 3-mile trip home from Starbucks/Publix took about twenty minutes. Between the rain, the so-called drivers who for some reason seem to not understand that the gas pedal is on the right, and Keifer being his usual charming self, I was in a horrible, frustrated mood by the time I got home. As soon as I walked through the door, I dropped the paper grocery bag on the counter (nothing had to be refrigerated since the butter was going to have to soon be melted and the pizza dough had to sit at room temperature for an hour or so) and went upstairs to Griffin's room so we could watch an episode of Mad Men. After it was over, I went downstairs to start prepping for the cracker candy; naturally, the first thing I did was empty the bag. Out came the pizza dough, the two bags of chocolate chips, the box of crackers, and...nothing else. The butter--the goddamned fucking butter that I just paid almost 4 dollars for and absolutely could not make the cracker candy without--was not in the motherfucking bag.

I wanted to kill.

Now, before I go any further, I should tell you that there's a Publix closer to my house than the one where I'd bought the butter, and it would have made a lot more sense for me to go to that one, but I was so incredibly angry, I wanted to do nothing but take out my wrath on the people at the Publix that fucked me. Plus, I planned to not only get the butter I wasn't given but also a full refund for the butter because of my trouble. Since I had my receipt, I knew getting the butter wouldn't be a problem, but I wasn't so sure about getting my money back at a scene different from the crime. So despite the rain, the bad drivers, and the fact that my kids were waiting for me to bake them a pizza, I got in my car grasping my receipt and my fury and drove off to a Publix where I didn't need to go.

I know from the description I just gave, you probably think I stormed into Publix screaming like a maniac, but that's not true. I was a waitress for 7 years and worked in retail/restaurants for 2 years prior, so I know better than to talk to people the way I always hated being talked to. I calmly went in with my receipt, walked up to the customer service department, and explained my situation. When I said I wanted a refund for the butter, the woman behind the counter told me she couldn't do that and would need to call her manager; I said fine, and when  he came over, I repeated the story to him.

...and I don't just want the butter. I want something for the trouble of having to come back in the rain because somebody here made a mistake.

What do you want? We'll give you the butter.

Of course you'll give me the butter. But I want something else. I'd like the butter comped.

Are you sure you left the butter here? That it didn't fall out in your car? Nobody reported any butter being left.

I was, in fact, sure the butter didn't fall out in my car. First of all, I got a paper bag, not plastic, and once you set one of those suckers down, it stays pretty much the way you  put it. Second, before I left the house in a huff, I had Griffin check my hatch. Butter was nowhere to be found. Did this man really think I went home and drove back in the pouring rain to try to steal not even 4 dollars and a few sticks of butter? Mister, please.

Yes, I'm quite sure.

Okay, I can do that for you.

About 45 minutes after I left my house, I got back to it. I walked into the kitchen and, having decided to make the cracker candy in the morning because I was in no mood to make it that night, I went directly to the refrigerator to put the butter away, and I know you know what I'm going to say, I know you know that I'm going to say I'm the biggest fucking idiot, and I know you know that I actually am the biggest fucking idiot because the first thing I saw when I opened my refrigerator was the goddamned motherfucking piece of shit butter. It was right there on the top shelf like it had been all fucking long.

Apparently, not only am I bitch, I'm a stupid bitch, and not only am I a stupid bitch, I'm a stupid, thieving bitch. A stupid thieving bitch who had (still has since she only used one stick) stolen butter in her fridge.

My initial instinct was to get in my car and return the butter. I called my sister and told her the story, and she told me that I absolutely could not do that. It's just butter, she said. Yeah, it might just be butter, but I'm not a thief. Still, I let the butter sit.

For the next week, I told the story of the butter five or six times. I'm not entirely sure why--I guess maybe I thought the more times I told it and the more times people told me it wasn't a big deal, the better I'd feel. And it worked. After a few weeks, the butter incident just kind of disappeared from my mind.

Until yesterday when it came back.

Last week when I went grocery shopping, I was looking through my receipt on my way to the car and realized I was charged twice for some item (I don't remember what it was) of which I only bought one. After I put my bags in my car, I went back into Publix with the receipt, told the manager I was charged twice and got my money back. It was 3 dollars and change. Probably right around the same amount as the pilfered butter.

Yesterday while I was standing in the kitchen eating a hard boiled egg, I picked up the receipt from this week's trip to Publix and noticed that I was charged 3 times for prepackaged mahi-mahi even though instead of 3 packages, I'd bought 2.

My immediate reaction was annoyance. Why was I too dumb to look at the register when I was being rung up? Did I really have to go back to Publix to get my $7.99? And what if the manager was the same one from the previous week? Would he even believe me? What was the likelihood that something was rung up an extra time for the same person two weeks in a row? Why the fuck did things like this keep happening to me?

And then I knew.

It was (the Dukes! It was the Dukes! God, I'm sorry--I just cannot stop doing that)--
the butter.

The motherfucking butter.

Karma had come.

The first time it came, the price was right around the same as the original price, but too blind to see what was really going on, I swatted it away. The second time it showed up, the price had doubled. I knew if I went back and got my money for that motherfucking fish, next time the price would be even higher.

I didn't go back.

We think the things we do won't catch us.We think we can outrun them, outsmart them


We're wrong.