Monthly Archives: November 2007

Alpha and Omega

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“Hi, is Jessica there?”

“Yes, this is she.”

“This is Santa. Ho ho ho!”

“Santa! Wow! Hi!”

“Christmas is coming! Have you been a good girl this year?”

[Pause.]

“Santa?”

“Yes, little girl?”

“Santa, philosophers and theologians have been struggling to define ‘good’ for millennia. I’m not sure I’m comfortable laying claim to the embodiment of an abstract concept.”

“Ho ho ho!”

“Are we talking good in the Platonic sense? Definitely not.”

“Ho ho ho?”

“Now, if we mean good as in chaste, then yes, I’ve been extraordinarily good. I make nuns look promiscuous.”

“That will do! Now tell me, little Jessica, what would you like for Christmas?”

“A pony!”

“Santa can’t make ponies in his workshop. What else do you want?”

“World peace?”

“Santa can’t make that either.”

“A flame thrower!”

“Santa will see what he can do.”

A conversation rather like this really did take place. Sunnybrook Farm and I were inspired by a form that was delivered to the library. You fill out your name, your interests, and your Christmas wishlist, and Santa gives you a call. Unfortunately, it seemed to be geared toward children, which if you ask me is a total crock.

(Speaking of philosophy, a friend asked me once if I could explain my position on free will. “I Kant,” I replied. Oh, the great puns never die, they just get more annoying. God bless ’em.)

So: Have I been a good girl this year?

Hum.

I’ve given a tiny little bit to charity—not much, but then again I’m a librarian. If I make a career switch to supermodeling, I will give away tons and tons of money to the needy.

I’ve continued to support my crazy volunteer person in Chapel Hill—mainly by phone, but with a visit back in May and another coming up in two weeks. Not going to go into the whole story here, but I volunteered with the Mental Health Association of Orange County when I was in liberry school. I spent a few hours each week spending time with a woman with some mental issues, only to gradually realize that there would be no graceful way to disengage. Even moving didn’t do the trick. There is no geography cure.

I like her, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I am merely observing that people with issues seek me out and latch on hard. For further evidence, I invite you to observe me at reference desk sometime. She’s a librarian… AND she’s a social worker! Two underpaid professions for the price of one! What a bargain! Hurry, this deal won’t last forever!

Let’s see, what else. I took in a cat whose housing needs were suddenly jeopardized by a woman. I swear, I still can’t quite believe that Nebudchadnezzar gave up a kitty as wonderful, fat, and lazy as Bubby. But it seems like a sure thing. He got hisself engaged over the weekend. (I haven’t told Bubby yet. Not sure how he’ll take it.)

Speaking of pets interfering with relationships, I got a call out of nowhere from my high school best friend, Amber. Amber called because she’d run into a girl we went to school with, who is still pretty and thin and well-dressed, and married now, to boot.

“Disgusting,” I said.

“This is terrible,” said Amber.

So then we spent nearly two hours talking about how unfair everything is. It was nearly identical to the two (or four, or six) hour conversations we had all throughout our teen years, to wit:

A) Other people are more attractive, popular, and well-liked, but
B) We are smarter than they are, and
C) One day we will show them all, and also
D) Yes, even now, more than half our lives later, we both still have a crush on the same guy. (Searches of marriage and property records reveal that he is unmarried and that he purchased a house. Yes, we both searched for this information, both independently, and were frankly unsurprised to find that the other had done the same research.)

Amber had heard a study reported on NPR that suggests that men marry one step lower, e.g., alpha males marry beta females. Societal pressure and masculinity and whatnot prevents them from marrying women who are their equals. Which explains why Amber and I, as alpha females, are still single. (I swear, it was just like high school: Musing over being single, and then hunting for reasons to justify it—reasons that preserve our self-respect, that is.)

“So let me get this right," I ventured. "If gamma females marry beta males, and beta females marry alpha males, does this mean we alpha females have to marry… to marry—”

“Omega males,” said Amber.

“The worst of the lot.”

“Vegetables. Men in comas.”

“Shit.”

Where was I going with this? Right: Among the many reasons we are still single (reasons that don’t wound our dignities, remember; that’s key) are our pets. Amber can’t leave her house for too awful long because she has to go home to let the dogs out.

“Can’t guys visit you at your house?”

“Allergies,” she said. “They all have allergies.”

On the bright side, if a man is in a coma, his allergies just pale in comparison.

Let’s see, is there any other evidence of my goodness this past year? Um. I’ve been green! I gave up plastic bags in favor of my reusable cloth bag. And I drive a fuel efficient car and I recycle and I conserve energy wherever I can, but I do that every year, so none of that’s exactly new.

Looking at things in a microcosm, I’ve been good this past week, sorta. I’ve been productive. I’ve done a lot of work on the book (though I’m still refusing to entertain questions about how many pages I’ve written. Privileged information, sorry.) In an effort to eek out extra time for writing, I have not read from a book since last Friday.

For me, this is akin to a porn star taking a vow of chastity. I don’t believe I’ve gone this long without in twenty-four years, i.e., since I entered the literary world with Hop on Pop.

Stop! Don’t hop on Pop!

Ah. That’s quality, that is.

And I’ve instituted a new bedtime rule. Unless I am actively working on the book, I am not allowed to stay up past 12:30 on worknights. In theory, this means that I will be well-rested, meaning that I can’t use fatigue as an excuse not to write the next day. For a woman who regularly stays up till 4 on the weekends and 2 during the week, this 12:30 thing is going to be a pain. I failed with the bedtime rule last night, flagrantly, but at least I felt bad about it. (And tired today.) It’s a start.

So, have I been good? Maybe not according to, say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Mahatma Gandhi, but I think I deserve a little compensation. So do your parts, everyone: I’d like to see a little world peace here. Thanks.

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Fedoral Law

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Today I wore my black fedora, a garment guaranteed to generate compliments. Every single time I put it on my head, someone says something nice about it. If I were to put my fedora on right now, late on a Tuesday night, someone would come to the door, knock, and tell me how nice it looks. (I am not going to test this, because I am clad in a manky old tshirt and a pair of undies. I am not fit for company. But someone, somehow, would find a way to say something nice about it. It’s inevitable.)

Coworkers like the hat. Folks in the library who see me wearing it as I walk to lunch like my hat. Total strangers on the street stop me to say how much they like my hat.

I have two hypotheses for this behavior. The first is that I am a stunning specimen of human grandeur, that is impossible to see me and not revel in some aspect of my beauty. I quite like this hypothesis.

My other theory is that people crave a return to 1940s fashion. It needs to make a comeback.

Men—and let’s be honest here—men generally get the short end of the fashion stick. Their clothes are utilitarian and boring. This has been true throughout history, with a few notable exceptions such as the kilt and the toga, but I do not wish to advocate for men in skirts. While this is a sexist opinion, and while I genuinely feel sorry that modern American men cannot enjoy the comfort of long flowing skirts, I cannot in good faith support the idea of men in skirts, because this would lead to—are you following me?—this would lead to men in short skirts.

Certain men, I am sure, have lovely legs. It is a shame that they cannot wear sexy fun miniskirts, at least not outside of a certain type of nightclub

But other men, and here I am primarily considering my male library patrons, certain men have legs that I do not, in any circumstance, wish to see. Shorts in the summertime are bad enough. I do not—I cannot say this with enough emphasis—I do not wish to see any more flesh on the good folk who frequent my library. And I really, really, really, really do not wish to ever, possibly, in any circumstance, risk a crotch shot ala Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

So call me conservative. Call me prudish. I don’t care: I do not want to see men, at least certain men, in miniskirts. But I do not want my male brethren to continue suffering with the boring polo-and-khaki ensemble that passes for casual dress these days. It is dull for them to wear and dull for me to look at. Instead, I propose that we return to the glory days of pinstripes, suspenders, and fedoras. If the undue amount of praise generated by my fedora is any indication, there is a desperate cultural longing for the fashions of the 1940s.

Plus—pay attention, this part is important—women think pinstripes and fedoras are sexy.

Christmas is coming. Ask for a fedora.

Thanksgiving is coming, too. Mom and Dad were planning to travel out here, but that plan has fallen through. It’s a rather convoluted story, but Dad is caring for a former employee of his. She’s in rotten health and there’s no one else to help her out.

I could make the drive home, but it’s a 15-hour round-trip, and I’d have to turn around in a few weeks and do it again. I’ll miss having Mom and Dad here, but there’s a bright side: I’ll have four uninterrupted days to work on the book.

There’s a down side, too, of course, i.e., there will be no one to make Thanksgiving food for me. Which means that it is up to me. Which is scary.

With great trepidation, I ventured into Food Loin last night. Two dishes were easy (a box of stuffing: just add water! A box of instant mashed potatoes: Just add water!) One dish was very, very easy. (Candy bar! Just unwrap!)

One dish was scary. Greenbean casserole? Just add… oh hell, add cream of mushroom soup? Okay, okay… Just add crunchy onion things, okay, I can do that. Just add… fuck it, I’m not buying milk, I never buy milk. All I need is one lousy half cup. I hope cream works. I’ll use the leftovers in my coffee.

One dish was impossible. I just don’t think I have the wherewithal to pull off the mushroom barley casserole. I have already “suggested” to Mom that it be on the Christmas menu. (“Please! Please please please PLEASE!”)

The Queen of Claremont had invited me to her Turkey Day gathering, and La Friend had invited me to visit her and her husband, but I think I’ll take my chances in the kitchen. The candy bar is foolproof, if literally all else fails. And dang, I could really use the time to write.

Then today I panicked when I realized that I couldn’t realistically go home for Christmas. I’ve got four days off, but no one to catsit. Persepolis offered, but I’m not going to ask her to drive all the way out here just to keep the kitties company. Other people offered, but dang, they live kind of far away, too. It’s one thing to drive half an hour to come to work for a paycheck; it’s another to drive all that way to clean out a litter box.

And all the locals, as far as I know, will be out of town, or preoccupied with family.

After wracking my brains for a while, I decided to do what my family always seems to do anyway: we’ll celebrate Christmas when it’s convenient. December 17 is as good as December 25, right? Right?

So now I have to think of what to get them. I wonder if they need fedoras?

Holy mole-y

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Mark this one on your calendars: I feel humbled. (Also mortified and pleased, but mortification and pleasure are frequent companions; humility makes for a red-letter day.)

With quite a bit of reluctance and a smidgen of guilt and shame, I had decided to skip yoga this month: Reluctance, because I do love yoga, and it’s the only exercise I ever get; guilt-n-shame, because I didn’t want to disappoint my yoga professor.

“It’s not like a college class, Jessica,” I chided myself. “You’re not doing it for a grade. Chill out. No one’s going to be disappointed in you.”

(Yes, I had this conversation, aloud, as I was folding laundry the other day. I suppose you could argue that I wasn’t talking to myself, because Gremlin was there in the room, doing her best to lie down on the garments I wanted to hang; it’s not my fault if she didn’t participate in the dialogue.)

Speaking of which, I made the mistake of grabbing a new towel from the closet this morning. I used it to dry off after my shower, thereby spreading cat hair all over my body. In the immediate aftermath, I developed a visceral understanding of one of the basic truths of physics: It is quite impossible to remove cat hair from wet skin. (WHY do I let the cats sleep in the closet? Why?) It’s like that other basic condition of physics, that the staff restroom at the library will ALWAYS be occupied. I’m willing to bet that, even at 3 am on a Sunday morning, someone, somehow, will be in it. Funny that Newton never addressed these immutable laws of science.

Strange of me to drop yoga, I know, but it was only going to be for a month. For one thing, I wanted to reclaim my Thursday nights. I’m feeling a lot of pressure with my book deadline looming, and I could use the time.

For another, I wanted to save the money. Holidays are coming up, and car insurance is due next month, and my apartment complex charged rent to the wrong credit card for the third month running. (They never would have had the second credit card, had I not lost my wallet earlier this year. I have GOT to stop losing things.) The problem with charging my backup card is that its payment due date is two weeks earlier than with the primary card. I’m having to play some very fancy financial games to make this work. No amount of yelling at my apartment complex, incidentally, has resolved the issue.

So yeah, I wanted to save some money. That’s what I told Bookish Jet, when I sheepishly asked her to relay my regrets to my yoga instructor. Short on time and money this month, I’ll be back next month, no big deal. (No big deal other than my pervasive sense of guilt, I mean. I should have been Jewish, or Catholic. I suppose I could convert.)

But apparently some of my yoga classmates overheard Bookish Jet. Which classmates? Dunno. But one of them, or several of them, banded together to get me a gift certificate.

Yep. Humbled.

And mortified. Good lord, people will think I’m broke! Which I am! But I don’t want them to do anything about it!

But of course I am very pleased about it, despite my mortification. Golly, that’s nice. And now I am obligated to return to regular yoga classes. Book or no book, I’m grateful for it: I love going to yoga class. I like stretching my muscles. I like doing the different poses (or, in some cases, resting comfortably while the rest of the class sweats through poses I could not possibly attempt. My puny triceps prevent me from doing handstands and some of the backbends and some of the other moves. My yoga instructor has reassured us that these postures are not necessary for achieving enlightenment. This is a tremendous relief.)

So now, instead of feeling guilty for slacking on yoga, I can go back to feeling guilty for slacking on my book.

Astute readers may wish to speculate that time spent writing this blog is time that could have been put toward the book. For the sake of diplomacy and general good will, let’s keep those speculations to ourselves, shall we?

I don’t like to talk about the book because it makes me nervous. Final deadline is in August, but first draft is due in May. We’re talking about 800 pages here. I have not made as much progress as I would have liked, so my preferred method of dealing with it is to not talk about it.

This is a classic case of denial. There is no deadline. There is no book.

See? I feel better already.

How is it, I ask you, how is it that I worked five part-time jobs throughout college and graduated with three majors, highest honors, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa, all in four years—how did I manage all that, while this damn book is bringing me to my knees? One lousy book should be nothing compared to crazy work-n-school schedule I maintained in college.

There is no deadline. There is no book.

(This is my new mantra. I will mutter it to myself during the meditation bits in yoga class, because frankly I can’t get the hang of meditation and I doubt I ever will; with a mantra, at least, I can fake it.)

So as to focus more resolutely on this book (not that there is a book), I’ve decided to take some drastic steps. (Cutting out yoga for a month was going to be one of them. Whoops.) There are only three other activities I can cut. One of them is work, but since the kitties need feeding, that’s not an option. Another is sleep, but I’m really rather fond of that; I make a point of sleeping at every night. It’s habit-forming.

Which leaves…

Oh this is painful.

Which leaves reading.

I cannot abandon reading entirely. What else would I do on my lunch breaks? I’m being serious. I cannot conceive of a lifestyle that doesn’t involve at least a little bit of reading each day.

But I can choose to read less captivating books. Case in point: after reading a fascinating review, I decided to pick up Carl Bernstein’s biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton, A Woman in Charge. I’m not much of a biography reader. Biographies rarely include werewolves or aliens. I don’t have much truck with books that neglect the undead.

But since I may wind up voting for her, I’d like to know more about the lady. I was conflicted about her before I started reading, and I’m still conflicted, but at least now I’m an informed conflicted.

Given the book’s dearth of bloodsucking vampires (well—there are some Republicans mentioned, but not that many), I don’t feel compelled to read it during every waking moment, rather unlike my experience last week with The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. (Fantastic book! Brilliant! Compelling! Un-put-downable! With bloodsucking vampires!)

By reading books that satisfy me through lunch but which don’t consume me during the evenings, I will have that much more time to write the book. That’s the working theory, anyway.

I’m returning all of my really-interesting-looking books to the library in exchange for dull books. Goodbye, Book of Lost Things; I barely knew ya. Au revoir, Kushiel’s Dart; I had no business with the first part of a trilogy, anyway. Hello, Pigeons. (Yes. Pigeons. A history of pigeons.)

All hope is not lost, however: I still have one legitimate pleasure read checked out, A Choir of Ill Children, on the advice of The Undead Rat. For years I’ve been on a quest to find a good horror novel; here’s hoping Greg, a librarian horror aficionado, can help. Haven’t started the book yet—have to see Hillary through to her term in Congr
ess—but it’s up next.

And finally: I went to the dermatologist today. (“Are you a Hillary fan?” asked the nurse, upon seeing the book on my lap. “In some respects, certainly,” I answered. “Ugh, I can’t stand what she did to health care,” said the nurse. On this point I remained silent. Never piss off the woman who holds the scalpel.)

The dermatologist anaesthetized the mole on my chest. Then she took this ray gun thingy and zapped the hell out of it.

So there I was, looking at the smoke rising from my chest and smelling the stink of my own burnt flesh, and what do they give me? A sucker, like the dentist used to do? A sticker, like the family doctor used to do?

No. They gave me a tan bandaid. Tan. Tan! What fun is that?

So I stopped by the drugstore and got myself some Peanuts bandaids. If I have to wear a bandage on my bosom for two weeks then by God it’s going to have cartoon characters.

Off to bed now, so that I can wake up early to work on the book. Not that there is a book. There is no book.

A transcendent experience

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I love this time of year. The weather is cold and the leaves are pretty. Gosh it’s great.

Considered together, those are possibly the three least creative sentences I’ve ever typed in my life. Based on that introduction, absolutely no one is going to compare my nature writing to the likes of Annie Dillard or Henry David Thoreau.

I can live with that. I don’t actually care for Annie “elliptical prose” Dillard or Henry “ooh look at me I moved to a cabin I’m the first ever person to commune with nature ever” Thoreau, also known as Henry “Ooh look at me I spent one lousy night in jail, suddenly I’m such a rebel dissident maybe now chicks will dig me” Thoreau.

Nothing against the transcendentalists—I’m fine with Ralph Waldo “like Thoreau, but not a prick” Emerson.

The point I was trying to make here is that I’m loving the weather and the trees are pretty. My language is uninspired and my sentiments are ordinary, but at least I can make fun of other people while I’m at it.

I love the weather to such an extent that I have not yet closed the windows. Normal people have already turned on the heat and lit up the fires, but not me. I like the cold, and I have no inclination whatsoever to start a fire in my home. This is probably for the best, as I do not have a fireplace.

The lovely cool air feels great and it encourages the kitties to snuggle. And having the windows open means that I can hear Goblin greet me when I get home each day. As soon as I pull in, she’s at the window meowing. Melts my heart.

(There is a possibility that she meows anytime a car pulls into the parking lot. Maybe she’s the apartment kitty whore, greeting every resident indiscriminately. I’ve posed the question to her, but she refuses to answer directly.)

I feel slightly ashamed. I’ve been reduced to writing about the weather. Unfortunately, except for those weeks when I lose my car keys, nothing exciting ever happens. I am not about to deliberately lose another valuable possession just for the sake of interesting writing material. Sorry.

But it is my duty to update this site regularly. I have legions of fans, if we interpret “legions” liberally.

Interpretation #1: “Legion” in the biblical sense. Jesus stumbled across a man possessed by a demon: “And Jesus asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9.)

So perhaps I have a bunch of demons reading my blog regularly. It’s possible.

By the way, a much, much funnier version of this gospel story is told in Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Don’t read this if you’re a conservative Christian. Do read it if you’re a liberal Christian, a person of some other persuasion, or a legion of demons. It’s hilarious.

Interpretation #2: My blog has legions of fans, if “legions” means “a coworker or two, my mom occasionally, and a handful of far-flung friends.”

I did have a live request for an update today. No really. Really! So here I am, fulfilling my duty.

And I discovered two days ago that I have readers I didn’t even know about. The best friend of my former roomie reads this thing. He instant messaged me a few days ago, possibly because I’d signed on for the first time in over a year. (Why? Because we’re planning to implement chat reference at the library. ’Bout damn time, if you ask me. I’m excited about it, and I’ve been working with a few other folks on the planning process. Do I have time for yet another project at work? No, absolutely not. I am swamped. But this is really fun to work on, and besides, it wasn’t exactly a choice. My boss volunteered me for it. Kinda hard to say no.)

So anyway Mike, who is the lifelong best bud of Rob, my roommate from college, saw me online. He dropped me a hello and we caught up on old news. Last time I talked to him, he wasn’t married, wasn’t studying for his MBA, wasn’t teaching computer classes at the community college. All that’s changed.

“Gosh,” I said. “I have nothing to compare to that. Um. I’ve been taking yoga this year?”

“Oh, I know,” he said. “I read it on your blog.”

Ah.

Strange feeling, that: Someone I hadn’t talked to in well over a year knew everything going on with me. O’course, that’s the point of this blog, to keep people informed. And to make fun of dead writers I don’t like.

I just wish I had more exciting news to relate here. But nothing ever, ever happens.

Some might argue that nothing ever happens because I spend all my free time sitting in my apartment, reading and writing. This is specious reasoning. Emily “can’t rhyme properly” Dickinson never left her room, and she’s all famous and stuff. (Yes, that’s another transcendentalist I don’t like. I guess I don’t much care for late-nineteenth century American writing. Is it just me?)

I see no reason, whatsoever, at all, in any way, why a shy librarian who leads a reclusive existence can’t enjoy a life filled with adventure, glamour, and crime fighting. Yes: crime fighting. Of the superhero sort. I have a Wonder Woman hoodie, a pair of Superman undies, and a pair of flowery pastel galoshes, which is the next best thing to asskicking stiletto boots. I don’t think I could wear stilettos. I’d twist an ankle, and the bad guy would get away, and I’d disgrace myself amongst the superhero crime-fighting community. So no heels, but otherwise I have a passable superhero outfit that will keep my feet dry in the rain. If I can get my hands on a cape I’ll be all set.

There’s precedent, you know. Batgirl is a librarian. I will begin saving the local citizenry just as soon as I finish writing my book. In the meantime, I will do my best to shield them from the legions of demons reading this blog. It will be a dangerous endeavor, but it is the least I can do. If the season ends without a plague of locusts or a rain of frogs, you’ll know I’ve been successful.

At a loss

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Things I have lost this year:

  • My wallet (contents included my license, two credit cards and my social security card—not a good combination to lose—as well as seventy dollars in cash.)
  • My new cell phone
  • My glasses (found them later that day, but it was an awful ten hours; have you ever tried to look for your glasses when you couldn’t see at all, because you weren’t wearing your glasses?)
  • My car key

Earlier today I was at the state library association convention. Nebudchadezzer, Persepolis, and I presented a readers’ advisory/collection development program on current trends in reading. were my co-presenters; my topics were Nonfiction Graphic Novels and Slipstream/New Weird/Literary Fantastic. The conference this year was located in a rustic little town deep in the mountains, which had the anticipated effect of making me terribly, terribly homesick.

(I have lived in the South my entire life and have yet to feel like a southerner. I don’t even have the accent, despite twenty-six years of immersion. I certainly don’t feel like a Virginian yet. But I strongly identify with Western North Carolina and with mountains. I am meant to live in mountains. This flatland stuff is killing me.)

Like many of my fellow mountain folk, I have blue collar attitudes. Though I have a master’s degree and a salaried, indoor job as an information professional, I will always think and act like a poor white girl. This is why I was uncomfortable at the swanky resort where the library conference was held.

I liked the cushy pillows. I gulped down my pinot noir with gusto. I savored the yummy food. I do like creature comforts. But I recoiled at the price of the rooms (the library paid for them, but still), and I bristled at the fancy atmosphere.

For example—and bear with me, this is leading somewhere—I didn’t like surrendering my key to the valet guy. I wanted to park my own car, thanks very much. It was with great reluctance that I pulled my key from the key ring.

I got my key back, of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to drive the four hours back to Wilhelmsplatz.

When I got back to town, I was sorely tempted to stop in and see the cats, but I decided to go straight to the grocery store. I needed to stock up on Diet Coke for the weekend.

So I pulled into the Food Loin parking lot. (Another class complaint: why does this town have a gazillion pricey grocery stores and only two Food Loins?) Then I went inside to purchase my Diet Coke, some lettuce, ravioli, a bag of cat fud, and a beer. Might not sound like much, but it was just right for me: Enough to justify a trip to the grocery store, but not so much that carrying it up to my apartment would be a Herculean effort. One heavy bag, that’s it for me.

(“One heavy bag.” Remember that detail.)

Then I trotted my grocery bag out to my car, pulled my keys from my purse, and…

And there was no car key. House key, mailbox key, library key, weird miscellaneous keys whose purpose mystifies me, but no car key.

(It must have slipped from my key ring somehow. I blame the valet. )

Then, carrying my heavy grocery bag, I walked back into Food Loin. A friendly clerk helped my look around the store. No key. The friendly clerk walked me back to my car, scanning the lot. No key.

This was at night, and it was cold, and the wind was blowing.

I reacted as I always do in these situations: I called Mom and Dad. They live seven and a half hours away, but what else is a girl to do?

“Get married,” Mom suggested. “Then there’d be someone else with a key.”

Thanks, Mom.

A more helpful suggestion came when she read me off the number for the Triple A membership.

I called Triple A. It was onerous:
AAA: Is your car 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel?
Me: I don’t have the faintest clue.
AAA: Just take a guess.
Me: Lady, I don’t even know what those words mean.

(Really, I don’t. It was not a consideration when I purchased my car. My consideration consisted of precisely one question: Which is the cheapest car on the lot?)

They finally said they’d send out someone to pick me up and to make a new key, but that I’d have to wait by the car.

Did I mention it was dark, cold, and windy?

I waited by the car. I froze.

(An attractive gentleman, approximately my age, politely asked if I needed a lift. “No, no,” I said. “Someone from Triple-A will be here soon.”)

He drove off. Triple-A called to tell me it would be an hour.

Please, God, please assure me that I did right in turning away the friendly attractive gentleman. Please tell me he was an axe murderer.

Triple-A further informed me that they couldn’t replace the key, but that they could tow me to the dealership the next day to get a replacement, for the low low price of seventy-five smackeroos.

At this point my phone broke into two pieces. Know that little hinge that lets the phone flip open? It jumped ship.

Struggling to hold the two halves of the phone in one place, I told Triple-A to forget about the lift, that I’d worry about towing the car to get the replacement key tomorrow.

Then I worried about how I’d get home. It’s probably a 40 minute walk from Food Loin to my house, maybe less, but consider this:

  • It was dark
  • It was cold
  • The wind was blowing
  • I was dead tired from the conference and from driving
  • I was wearing conference shoes. (Comfortable shoes were inches away, but locked in the trunk, and I believe I’ve already mentioned the bit about not being able to find the car key)
  • My grocery bag was heavy

In better circumstances I’d have walked it, but a weary young woman stumbling home at night in the cold dark wind does not seem a recipe for success.

At least I was no longer obligated to freeze by my car. I dragged my heavy grocery bag back into Food Loin and, precariously holding the two bits of the phone in the right positions, I called Nebudchaddnezar, who gamely drove all the way across town to give me a lift.

Here at home now, I am realizing that my toiletries, my iPod, my books I’m reading, and my fuzzy pink slippers are still locked in my trunk. And I am going to have to get my car towed tomorrow, and then I’ll have to sit at the dealership while they make my key, and I won’t have anything to read, and it will cost me $75 that I don’t have.

“This stuff always happens to you,” Mom observed.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why the karma? I’m basically nice to people.”

“And you’re kind to animals.”

“And I haven’t murdered anybody. What gives?”

I’m stumped. Maybe I should become a vegetarian? Then I’d be really nice to animals.

(I was a vegetarian once, but then my kitchen ceiling caved in, because of the heroin addicts who lived above me, but that’s a different story.)

Oh, one other thing. I have gray hair now. Something went funky when I touched up the blonde the other day. Some of my head is blonde, like I intended, but other parts turned silvery gray. Kind of like the color of my Corolla, sitting all alone and unloved in a grocery store parking lot. But I think it’s a pretty effect, albeit unintended.

Now I am going to go to bed with my teeth unbrushed and my feet unslippered,