Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What a ride

I have a shameless episode of self-absorbed whining to share with you. I know! Awesome!!

Monday was Captain Adventure’s first day of summer school – and it didn’t come a moment too soon because after two weeks without the consistent structure of preschool, he was already starting to go feral on us.

His program is in the next town over, about a forty minute drive away. Can I get a ‘hallelujah’ for the free bus program? (Amen!)

Now, three different people having told me last month that we were “all set” for the summer school thing, I assumed (ha ha ha!) that we were all set. So I got him up at 6:00 in the morning, fed him breakfast, got him dressed, and then we perched anxiously in the front room waiting for the bus, which should have arrived between 6:45 and 7:15 that morning.

At 7:20, I tried to call the bus company. Their line was busy. And it stayed busy until 8:10 (ten minutes after his program starts) (and an hour and a half after I’d begun forcing him to hang out with me in the most boring room in the house, saying, “Your bus will be here any minute, honey…noooo, no cartoons, your bus will be here any minute; nooooo, no coloring, your bus blah blah blah no no no bus bus bus where where where argh argh argh”), at which point I was told, “I don’t have a Captain Adventure on our list…”

A couple primal screams later, I had the boy in the car and was driving to the school.

This is where I start the shameless self-absorbed whining: I was supposed to have the whole day all to myself Monday. Danger Mouse was off on an RV Adventure with Grandma and Grandpa. My husband had Eldest and Boo Bug in Los Angeles, for a combo trip involving birthday parties, Disneyland and a few other social calls. I didn’t go because I was waiting (on pins and needles) for a call-back on an interview (which didn’t come, because HAHAHAHA, that would have been great good fortune for us, which apparently we are not allowed to have at this particular time because the Universe is saving something even better than financial stability and emotional sanity for us!) (hello, my name is Pollyanna, and you are…?)

ANYWAY. Those of you good at math will note that this means it was just me and the boy knocking around the Den of Chaos. Everybody was going to be home yesterday, but Monday, aaaaah, Monday! I would put the boy on the bus at 7:00-ish, and then he would be arriving home on the bus at 3:00-ish.

That would be eight whole hours at home without any other humans. Why, a person could actually make a cup of coffee and drink it while it was still hot, under such conditions! Or put something away and have it stay put away! Or play a video game, without having to jump up every eight seconds to find out what that noise was!

Or take a nap. The excitement, it is never ending!!!!

Instead, I drove the boy to school, dropping him off a full hour and something late for his program. Obviously, since the bus company denies ever knowing he existed, I also had to return to pick him up at the end of the day.

And as we were careening down the freeway, one of us belting out Laurie Birkner songs at the top of his lungs and the other one muttering foul words under her breath, I realized that the car felt funny. There was a disturbance in the Force, a vibration, a strange hum, a distinct pulling toward the right, hmmmm…

Then we hit a construction zone. The detour took us through Tijuana and also the Canadian Rockies before dropping us back at the school. What should be a two block jaunt was, I kid you not, a sixteen block detour. Complete with missing direction signs and a wander through a community that is probably very much tired of lost people wandering around wondering how they’re supposed to get back to Main.

Arriving at the school at last, I peered at the front right tire. Wow. It’s not exactly flat, but it’s definitely sagging, there. AWESOME!!!

SO, after dropping him off, I went to a gas station, filled the tank ($30 to fill up a Civic, holy crap…), and then went to the air machine...which wanted $0.75 for air. Unless, of course, you’d bought gas, because that would be against California law. If you bought gas and want free air, please see the attendant. Hell yes, I want free air!

So I marched into the store and announced that I wanted free air, to which the kid behind the counter announced that he needed to see my gas receipt.

I didn’t have one, because I said, “No, I don’t want a receipt” when the machine asked if I wanted one, because I have enough paper in my life already thank you all the same.

“How do I know you’re not just stealing air from us?” he sneered at me. Because air theft is, as we all know, a crippling issue to the gas station economy and all.

Little Pimple, do not @*^&@ with The Momma right now, I thought grimly. She is already pissy and will pop you like the zit you are and apply a thick coat of Clearasil to your quivering remains…

I smiled sweetly (y’all know that smile, right?) and said, “Sooooo, what you’re telling me to do is, get my credit card statement, highlight the purchase of gas I just made, and send that to the State with my complaint, so you can get fined $50 for breaking the law today…Brad, is it?” I poised my fingers over my Treo, prepared to take his name, driver’s license number, age, girlfriend’s phone number so I could call her mother and tell her she shouldn’t let her sweet girl date this creep and furthermore while we’re at it, give me your grandma’s number because she should be appalled by your lack of respect for your elders, sonny-boy!

Rolling his eyes and sighing heavily like any good teenager, he flipped the switch to turn on the air.

Which did nothing.

Twenty minutes and a four-employee-huddle later, nobody could figure out how to turn on the air without putting three quarters in the slot. Nobody had three quarters, and nobody was willing to take them out of the drawer because the boss would fire them for being three quarters short at the end of the day.

It was now going on 11:00. I had a forty minute drive home, and then I had to get back in the car at 1:00 to ensure I could make it through traffic, construction zones and pick-up congestion in time to grab my son.

I stomped out, dug three quarters out of the ash tray in the car (what, isn’t that what ash trays are for?) and paid for air. Muttering vague threats around reporting them to the State, or suing them for my time. Let’s see, at my old job, my employer billed my time out at $140 an hour, so I make that $70 you bastards owe me for this little fiasco… (No, I didn’t make anything near that…let’s just say there was a healthy profit margin for the consultancy firm at my last gig…)

ANYWAY. I finally peeled myself out of the car, ran into the house and stood there admiring the silence for a moment. I have a little less than an hour remaining before I have to go back and get the boy, let’s see...Oh-oh-oh! I know! I can boot up the laptop and write! Yes! In silence! Without little voices demanding snacks, and tape, and crayons, and and and mommy mommy mommy it’ll be awesome!

So I flicked the button, and my laptop began its slow grind into life. (It’s on the old side, and has begun developing personality quirks that even a complete rebuild didn’t cure…one of those quirks is that it takes literally ten minutes for it to wake up to the point where I can open Word and start sharing my keen wit with y’all…) (stop laughing, I’m delicate right now…)

And then suddenly, it started winking at me. Boxes came up. Boxes vanished. Wink. Wink. Wink.

And then it said, “Preparing Outlook for its first use…”

And I said, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!”

Over an hour later, it was still locked down, preparing various Office programs for their “first” use. A major update went down Sunday, and the dumb machine felt All Was New Again.

I zapped a frozen burrito for lunch, and sat there burning my tongue on it as I watched the hourglasses and progress bars.

And then, it was one o’clock.

Time to get the boy.


The first day in I don’t know how long that I had the whole house to myself. A day I should have had a good eight hours of peace and quiet in my own space. I could have gotten a whole lot of something or nothing done.

Instead, I spent nearly three hours in the car ferrying the boy back and forth from his program, wrestled with Idiocy at the gas station, beat my head against Mandatory Updates, ate a reheated frozen meal and then brought home a boy who was practically having seizures of hyperactivity because he was that unique combination of stimulated and exhausted that the first day of school can bring a young autistic lad. Awesome!!!

There are times when I really do find myself just…kind of resenting things. I know a lot of things go just right for me and that really, in the cosmic scheme of things, I’ve got it pretty darned good.

But I was really looking forward to that time. As you might guess, time at home alone is incredibly rare…usually, if I want to be alone, I have to get in the car and drive somewhere.

And then I’m surrounded by strangers.

So, wah. Poor me. Life is sooooo hard. Boo hoo.

Oh, you think this whining is bad? HA! In a couple weeks, I’ll be entering my first-ever pie competition!

…I expect the blow to my ego when my AWESOMEST EV-AH pie loses out to some [to my way of thinking at the time] nasty lumpy bit of gah! THAT isn’t PIE! That’s just Jell-O pudding in a refrigerated crust!! will be truly epic, and the whining and crying will go on for weeks

…(why do I do these things to myself? Why?! WHY?!?!)…


Steph B said...

I am SO sorry. Deep breath and maybe some strong coffee and chocolate? I hate it when my schedule goes awry like that.

Chery said...

Is the bus scheduled for next time?

Lynne said...

Holy shmokes... must've been something in the air. I had the worst day ever as well... like completely bizarro stuff out of nowhere all freakin' day long. You go .... love that whining! I'm hearin' ya! Oh yeah.

And yes, please tell me the bus people have their act together now and you will have some peace and quiet!! Hope so!

Science PhD Mom said...

Hey, I totally understand. Having your own house to yourself is such a treat, and having it all fribbled away before your eyes is incredibly frustrating! Hope you get another chance soon.

Bullwinkle said...

Would a ((hug)) help?

Lisa said...

Oh, dahlink, I don't know whether to laugh or cry for you. How about a little of both? (And please don't quote that crappy line from "Steel Magnolias" mmmmkay?)

All I can say is that you will live through it. Eventually. And the reward is grandchildren. Or maybe that's the curse. Don't know for sure yet...

Big hugs.

Senora Fuerte said...

These kinds of days just make a person wonder why they bother. With anything. Ever. I feel your pain. It sucks to want something so simple and so reasonable to expect and have it stolen from you when you did everything right. Hang in there.