Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coat Hanger as Windshield Ice Scraper

The first frost is upon us, killing our impatiens and sending our manicured lawns to the colorist, putting platinum frosted highlights and tips on the green locks of grass.

All week long I rush out the door, thinking that with a turn of the key in the ignition I will be driving to work, simple, just as I've done for the last six months or so.

But instead I am stopped in my tracks. My car is frozen over, a thin layer of ice covering the windshield.

Fuck. Ice. Need ice scraper, my brain says. There is none in the house. It's buried in my car somewhere. In the car I should have cleaned out a while ago. I crank the defrost up to 11 and open up the floodgates of heat. I call for aid in the form of windshield wipers now flipped to their fastest setting, in hopes the friction will slowly dislodge tiny bits of ice incrementally with every swoosh-swoosh back and forth.

And while this is going on I am climbing throughout my car. Moving things around frantically. Pushing bags and boxes around. Dislodging half-empty (or is it half full?) bottles of water long forgotten under passenger seats, a place of hiding they rolled to, one slam-on-the-brakes back during who-knows-when in the past.

If there is an ice scraper in my car, I ain't finding it. A harried look at the windshield reveals nearly the same unforgiving sheet of ice that was there before my frantic search for the ice scraper in a haystack.

Now I am in MacGyver mode. What in my car could feasibly suffice as an ice scraper in a jam like this?

Answer: Plastic shirt hanger from Old Navy.

I'm trying all sorts of angles and eventually have the right tilt going to both reach and scrape all the icy bits off my windshield with my Old Navy hanger, and I'm off to work.

The whole (long) drive that is my commute, I create a to-do list so this doesn't happen tomorrow. I can:

-clean out my car and unearth the one or more ice scrapers buried within. I think of what's in my car, what to do with it, how it should be kept clean anyway (duh) and how long this cleaning process will take.
-go to the store and buy an ice scraper and keep it in an accessible spot. Can keep it right in the passenger door slot/cupholder/catch-all thingy. Can go buy it on my lunch break, et cetera.

Quite simple really. Pleased I have come up with suitable solutions to this problem, I arrive at work and go about my day. Approximately 20 hours later, the alarm clock goes off and I rush around and head out the door and see:

Of course. My iced-over car.

Good job, asshole. What did you think? It was going to get warmer around here and you'd never have ice on your car again?

You are really dumb, for real.

For the second day in a row I was scraping ice off my car with a plastic clothes hanger from Old Navy. For Chrissakes. Cursing my stupidity, procrastination, forgetfullness, life, whatever. It was part "d'oh!" and part "c'est la vie" my attitude as I drove off again (this time I also forgot my gloves and my hands were cold.)

I started to think, maybe I don't need an ice scraper. Maybe me and my Old Navy clothes hanger could get through the winter. And then I had the audacity to think, thank goodness my car is filled with random crap, because then I might not have even had a clothes hanger to scrape the ice off.

And yet, after I drove off disgusted that I had not managed to fix my ice scraper situation, I realized I had also managed to leave my cell phone upstairs. I had to turn around and thought of how I didn't want to live life feeling rushed and ill-equipped. It was a moment where I longed for a place for everything, everything in its place, oh how simple life would be then, a life free of iced-over windshields and extraneous trips home for things you've forgotten.

My mind thought of all the things out of place around my home, and how when I got back there to retrieve my cell phone I could pick up the thing on the landing or on the dresser and stick it upstairs in my bedroom where it belonged. Hey it would be a start: grab two out of place things on your way to find the cell phone and be two things closer to a more organized life.

However by the time I got to the front door, I realized it was locked, I went back to get my housekeys from my car's ignition, and in my frustration stomped upstairs in a tizzy, found my cellphone and all without putting anything in my path in its rightful place upstairs. I drove off a second time and then proceeded to curse myself after realizing I had forgotten my two items to pick up. And now I was wondering if I needed to start drinking coffee as soon as possible after waking up instead of just in the car ride to work.

Maybe that is the key to everything, caffeine stimulation.

So here I am, it is 7:50 p.m., and I am about to head out the door again for my evening affairs, and I have yet to either:
-clean out my car and find last year's ice scrapers.
-buy an ice scraper.

So invariably I will be met with this same problem tomorrow. Unless I manage to wake up early, saunter out to my car and turn it on to let it defrost while I go about my other morning readiness rituals.

But if not, and I forget, I guess there is still the clothes hanger. Or, it could happen: an early-November heat wave.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Waiting for Ten Dollars

Last night I came home and was feeling just awful. The kind of awful where you climb into bed with your clothes on and manage to fall asleep even though every single light on is in the house. You manage to fall asleep in your pony tail, in your contact lenses, in your work clothes. If you were wearing shoes more elaborate than slip on flats, you'd probably be going to bed with your shoes on as well.

I drove home with the sort of lead-footed purpose the bank robber has rushing away from the scene of the crime. The sort of speed that anyone who calls you while driving will know from the angry tone in your voice that you are driving fast and like a madwoman. The anxiety of wanting to Just Get Home and the liminal nature of driving to get there, that the day is finally over, and what a day it was. Only until the key is in the door and the doorknob turned can we assume that you are no longer at work and you can again breathe a sigh of relief. The ride home is a long time to hold your breath.

But I had another reason to rush. It wasn't just that feeling of Wanting To Be Home After A Day Like Today. I had to hurry and get home because someone was coming over to buy three bags of clothing I was selling on Craigslist. For $10, three bags of clothes. Cheaper than a bag sale at your local charity thrift shop. And yet, the respondents to my Craigslists ads rarely come. They stand me up, all the time, to appointments that sit amid my chaotic schedule of rushing home, inhaling dinner, and going back out the door to nightly practices.

For Ten Dollars, this dance I do with Craigslist transactors makes an already stressful life even more so. And tonight, after A Day Like Today, I wasn't hopeful. This lady wasn't coming. I didn't care. They hardly ever come like they say, and I am on to the next respondent to my Craigslist ad, in hopes they will arrive and cart away my unloved clothing and leave behind the ten dollar bill I love so much.

Our date is for 6:30, which comes and goes. Now I slump into bed for my date with misery and exhaustion, a menage a trois. But at 8:30 p.m. the door bell rings and now I am rushing rushing down the stairs. A size 10 lady to sort through my size 12 clothes.

Just had a baby, she says. Nothing in her closet fits her, she says. So thankful I have these clothes, she says, now she can have something to wear. Take your time, I say. Feel free to dump out the bags entirely, check everything out, I'm sincere. Lots of variety of seasons and work and casual, I say. I'm very casual these days, she says.

Many thanks all around as things look good to her. "Here. Two dollars extra. It's a lot of stuff," she says. I, surprised, thank her. Offer to help her carry the bags -- bags made of the cheapest white plastic that always seems to tear at the slightest pull or heft of weight at the most unfortunate moment -- back to her car, but no, she is already at her car with them, pulling away into the night. She, rushed herself and holding her breath perhaps.

After a successful transaction I usually turn celebratory and make that crisp "yes it's money" noise you get when you straighten out a paper bill, mock inspecting it and proudly holding it above your head, a head which seems taller now that your back is straighter with pride that you have money in hand.

But this time I tossed it nonchalantly on my dresser, as a regular john would to his paid lady's furniture after another sort of transaction is over.

This time I realized what is ten dollars anyway. And at the same time, what is it not. It was everything and nothing. The thing I am waiting for and the thing there is never enough of and the thing that is gone even after it gets here. It was so unimportant and so very important.

The ten dollars that never comes, but when it does, sometimes it is twelve. More or nothing at all: c'est la capitalism, n'est-ce pas?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tall enough to ride

Today was a thrill ride you were forced onto, just because you were tall enough.

The kind of ride that you cry for it to be over, for you fear you are going to fall out of its harness like the change that fell out of your pockets as you flew upside down in its loops and valleys.

The kind of ride that people vomit on; the kind you're certain gave you whiplash.

You're on that ride and you don't want to be. You wanted to go home some time ago.

Instead there are tears in your eyes and vomit in your mouth and nothing in your now-emptied pockets and the wind in your throat as you are jerked around up and down on a ride that you'd never envision could be so sinister as to stick you in a seat alone when all you have to hold onto is the rickety wood of the handle before you, instead of the tight hug of a comforting body to tell you "it shall be over soon."

For no matter how fast this thrill ride goes, it is an eternity. One you didn't want to ride. One they made you go on, just because you were tall enough.

This tall, to feel a roller coaster of emotion in your stomach, heart, throat and mind; that your memory continues to ride over and over long after you've limped out of its seats and down the egress silently sadly, while the next riders take off and levy Doppler effect screams.