You’re not crazy, you just drive like you are

The first time I knew I was doing it I was driving on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, Illinois. I knew I was being judged for my out-of-state plates and I was judging right back the rattling, rust machine that was plugging along in front of me. I wanted it to move over, get out of my way, I had somewhere to be, somewhere obviously far more important than them I selfishly assumed. Besides I thought if I didn’t pass them I justified for the folks driving behind me either drive in my trunk or leave me in the dust. There are just some highways in this world you must have your stuff together or get the heck out-of-the-way!

I realized today I was doing it again, a shiny newer car passed me and I thought, wow, I want to follow them, they know where they’re going, they can predict traffic patterns, they know which lane will keep moving in rush hour, they will get me to where I’m going on time if I follow them. It’s time for me to come clean. I car profile, I driver profile too. We often sum things up by appearance and as much as don’t want to admit it, I do it too, everyday. If I see temporary tags I think they must be too new to the vehicle to know how to properly operate it so I pass ’em. If I notice someone’s plates are geographically more than two states away from the state I’m currently driving in, get out of my way, slow poke alert, must be lost or on vacation, either way, going no where fast enough for me.

But if the car is nondescript and also in my way, then does anything I consider weird or dangerous that’s when I go beyond the car and look inside. If the person looks like they posed for their driver’s license photo yesterday I’m frankly a little afraid of them and if they’re all silver-haired, I’m afraid of them too. Just to be clear, it’s not ok what I’m saying, it’s not pretty, it’s not kind, it’s not what I want to say that I do but I do it probably everyday. I’m a profiler and I don’t work for the FBI. I see a woman driving a van full of children I’ll straighten up in my seat, tighten my hands to the wheels and consciously drive “safer.” Anybody spending their time smoking and driving, I think their not only filling their lungs with some bad stuff but I think they might make a wrong turn and suddenly hit the brakes in front of me but yet a cab driver in my rear view mirror is some secret challenge I have within that I don’t want passing me.

Oh yeah, and I don’t like seeing anybody wearing a hat when they drive, seems to me it blocks the vision, oh, unless it’s subzero outside and the hat wearing is because of the temperature, but then I begin to wonder shouldn’t the inside of the car be warm enough now. Ok, just to reiterate, winter hats are ok, everything else, nope, unacceptable in my book of what is right and wrong with cars and drivers. Also, don’t drive a convertible anywhere near me, you make me nervous and I think you are a distracted driver thinking about the weather and how you look driving your convertible. If you drive a motorcycle and don’t wear a helmet I want to pull you over and ask you what kind of health insurance coverage you have. If you drive with your windows down when it is raining I want to get away from you because I’m afraid your car is unsafe and about to combust in flames or something awful because that must be why you have to keep the windows open. Please, and don’t get me started if I see an animal in the car or a tractor-trailer full of livestock you are dead to me, I am convinced at any second the dog/cat/pig/etc. will grab the wheel and plunge a lane full of cars over an embankment.
I’m nuts, I admit it, I sit in traffic and judge. I actually think if the car appears newly washed it seems like someone less likely to cause an accident. If the car already has a dent in it I check to see what the speed limit is because I want to get away from it asap. My condition worsens the longer I sit in traffic. I have no excuse, I’m just the crazy person that sits in TRACTION so she can feel her fingers and retain her independence to drive at the same time the worlds’ worst driver and deadliest vehicle must be right next to me today in TRAFFIC. Yep, makes total sense.

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Durante and Adele make it better

It’s not such a bad day sitting in traction when you get to start out listening to Jimmy Durante’s, Make Someone Happy and end up with Adele’s, Someone Like You, with a bit of everything else in between.
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I’ve mentioned before how I have a string of songs on my playlist that are timed just perfectly to coincide how long I have to sit here. Some days life is as easy as pressing a button, closing my eyes and listening, other days not so much. Don’t ever underestimate the power of music and what it can do for you. Here’s hoping you can just hit play today and make it all go a lot easier.

Summer skiing

As I was sitting in traction this morning pulling my neck with a ten pound bag of water I was watching a video on YouTube. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’ve done a lot of things to distract myself while I’m sitting there passing the time. My neck hurts today, my fingers are numb and when I finished traction my back wanted to punish me. As far as life goes I had a good weekend, as far as my spine is concerned just seeing a snow less ski slope invokes a feeling of cruel and unusual treatment. Although I enjoyed time with family and watching my niece graduate surrounded by the Green Mountains of Vermont I also knew what was ahead for the week, recuperation from the travel, i.e., many hours lying flat on my back.

For me the ordinary things require a lot of me, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just the way it is. From walking across the room to pulling laundry out of the washer, any activity that requires standing, holding a pen or even the telephone these days for more than a few minutes leads to my arm feeling numb and painful. Things aren’t going in the right direction for me in terms of my cervical and spinal conditions, but I’m trying, I’m not giving up. I’ve written before about the importance of that, how in moments that seems like victory enough. I’m ready for things to get better for me physically but unless I experience a miracle they probably won’t. I’m losing ground and sometimes that feels frightening, sad and frustrating but after watching a video of others experiencing their own challenges, surviving to tell their stories, I feel better. We aren’t alone in this fight, that gives us courage, it gives us the freedom to tell the truth. I’ve said this before and it’s worth stating again, life stinks, more than stinks and pushing forward a second at a time is a freaking victory.

Let’s do this thing people.

May be

Oh my, the time is flying, in this month of May as I’ve completed my traction routine I haven’t felt much like typing. My fingers have been stiff and tired and let’s not talk about the neck. I just wanted to write some words for this month as I’ve not missed a month of writing since we started this experiment a couple of years back.
I look forward to June and nimble fingers, a girl can AND should dream……

Forcing Spring

I feel cool. I’ve watched many a gardening show and dreamt of having the skill and know how to take care of a little patch of beauty. I’ve tried here and there and have had moments of glory but Mother Nature and her elements have not always been my friend. All of my gardening mishaps have led me to appreciating the first signs of Spring in potted tulips and hyacinths growing in gardening centers. Rarely have these beauties made it to my table if they were growing in my yard. They’ve either been snacks for chipmunks or killed by late frost. I’ve just not had a lot of luck with growing bulbs. I know, every other yard displays them, looks easy to accomplish, but if I want to see blooming early spring bulb plants I need to buy them at the garden store or walk to the neighbor’s house.

But this year is a new year and I’m growing things indoors! Paperwhites adorn my desk and fill the room with a lovely fragrance that has me wondering where I am! I’m waiting any day now for the daffodils to pop. Who knew you could grow such beauty in the tiniest of spaces indoors? Here’s all I did: I placed the bulbs in a brown bag for a couple of days or maybe a week, at the first sign of root growth I set them in shallow wide container and surrounded them with a few pebbles or small decorative rocks. I then covered the rocks with water, I’ve consistently keep the water over the roots but have been careful not to ever completely cover the bulbs, add water as needed. Voila, then the most amazing third grade science project happens right in your tired winter home! Forcing bulbs indoors is easy and fun and if it works you look like a master gardener and if it doesn’t I’m not telling.

Spring is coming, hope grows right before my eyes. Old dreary traction is surrounded by a lovely scent and pushing toward a new day.

(Bonus, if you bought that bag of bulbs in the Fall and never got around to planting them here’s your answer, it will look like you planned it that way all along) Good Luck and a special thank you to Mary M. for her introduction of the idea into my life!

No dessert in the desert

Here we are as February is coming to a fast end, two months will soon be over in 2012. I’m going to sound old, heck, I feel old while I’m sitting here hanging in traction but time always marches on, ready or not. It seems I just decided what I was giving up last year for Lent and now I’m in the midst of another. Last year I tried this sort of funky thing where instead of giving up something I told myself I’d do more. I tried to study more, pray more, give more, do more, you get the idea, the things that were difficult I tried more, not less. It sort of fundamentally sounded like it went against the sacrificial aspect of Lent but it truly was supposed to be a penance to do “more of” the things I didn’t like or at least, felt like the things that didn’t like me.

That was too complicated in the end so I’m going traditional this year, I’m just trying to show up for Lent, I’m going to try to remember it’s Lent. When I want to go to the drive thru to pick up something quick and easy to eat I’m going to try to remember I do have food at home and I can eat that when I get there. When I want something I’m going to try to remember my little girl friend in the orphanage in Port-au-Prince that would literally find a crumb on the floor and instead of gobbling it down she would divide by however many others were in the room. A small child and she knew more about sharing and giving of herself than I’ll ever know. This might sound selfish and delusional but traction it seems to me is like Lent, it is about showing up, remembering, completing the task at hand, no room for BS, no forgetting, no I’m too tired, no I don’t feel like it, no, it’s not fair. In addition, Lent is doing what you said you’d do but not making a big deal about it, or as my Mom would say, “no broadcasting it.” There’s no need to go on about saying no thanks to dessert, passing on seconds or giving up the fancy morning coffee. Lent is being out there on your own, no fuss, no frills, no extras, no pity parties, real life stuff, just you and God. AND, the last time I checked there wasn’t any chocolate growing in the desert.

Yep, I’ve not found sacrifice a bowl full of fun but if you stick with it you do find something new. I owe Lent for any ability I have to sit here in traction, the more I grow to understand Lent the easier the traction gig is for me. When it comes down to it really, isn’t it just about taking away life’s distractions and excuses, learning more about your true self, therefore, knowing more about God.