Car Exhaust, Petty Victories and Other Failures at Mature Adulthood

Car Exhaust, Petty Victories, and Other Failures at Mature Adulthood

 
1. The downside to taking the less-traveled back highway up into the countryside to get to work every morning is that it is forcing me into close contact with a much higher percentage of people who drive cars that smell awful.

You know what I mean - those cars that belch exhaust from a muffler that is bouncing up and down and hanging by paperclips and bubble gum. Or even worse, those people who removed their catalytic converter and not only are they belching exhaust, the sheer volume of noise they are making is actually both annoying and impressive. Both at the same time.

They don't drive too quickly. For some of these people, I find myself concerned that if they do try to drive within five miles of the actual speed limit, their car is liable to just shake apart right in front of me, and I will be left watching a man sitting in a car seat that exists otherwise entirely in the bare steel frame of his ancient compact car, while bits of side panel and hood litter the road on either side of us.

This morning I became heavily concerned that I was stuck behind a man whose very old pickup truck was on what seemed to be some sort of  rapidly accelerating death-clock. The amount of thick, sulfuric smoke that was surrounding him like Pigpen's proverbial dirt-cloud in Peanuts was something that he seemed not the slightest bit concerned about, even as the longer I sat behind him, the thicker and darker it became.

I won't lie; I breathed a sigh of relief when he finally turned off the road.

He's a brave man, whoever he is, to willingly drive a car so close to being on fire.

It may mean that I am less than charitable, but I was not so much conerned about the man's health and safety, but more for my ability to dodge the flying shrapnel when the car finally exploded. When I've only been awake for an hour and forty minutes AND I haven't even had any coffee yet...

Well, let's just say that as far as my reflexes are concerned, this morning was not the best of times.

I can only admire his courage. At the same time, I really hope he was trying to drive to a mechanic and I also really hope I don't see him on my way home, too.

2. Speaking of my drive to work:

While on the interstate this morning driving towards downtown, I was sitting in the middle lane at a comfortable, say, 62 or so (the speed limit is 55 there) when I saw a guy in a gray car doing something like 85 or 90 just fly up behind me, all but slam on his brakes not to just rear-end me right there, jerk himself into the next lane and flip me off as he flew past.

Note: I am driving seven miles over the speed limit, on a three-lane interstate, and the left lane that he shifted into (with no turn signal, of course) was completely empty. There was no reason for him to need to be the middle lane and nothing blocking him from going as fast as he wanted to in the left one. He just flipped me off because I had committed the cardinal sin of existing in his general direction. I decided to be the better person and just made a face at him that he couldn't even see.

As if to say that the universe agreed with my face, we rounded a curve where a cop was hanging out and guess who was immediately pulled over?

I cheerfully gave the man in the gray car a happy wave, and I used all five of my fingers, because when karma likes me I can pretend I am a lady and give one heck of an upper-class Princess Wave.

It was a petty victory, but sometimes you take what victories you can get.

Especially at 7:45 in the morning.

3. I lost my wedding ring. I cannot tell you how. If we're being completely honest with each other and I think we both know that we are, I don't even know exactly when. I had it Thursday night when I arrived home from work. I had it when Jason made us a late dinner. I took it off, as per usual, some time before bed. When I woke up the next morning, it was gone.

I had a tiny stress-out about it before work, and told myself it would turn up the moment I got home, as previous items I have lost did. So I tried the cold-shoulder method; I just pretended I hadn't even noticed it was missing, in the hopes that my wedding ring, like a regretful toddler in a hide-and-seek game gone too long, would eventually remove itself from hiding and beg for forgiveness.

No such thing happened. I didn't find it last night either, and Jason and I have torn apart our tiny one-bedroom apartment. I may have thrown an actual honest-to-God tantrum. I may have followed that tantrum by whining and wailing about wanting chocolate to make myself feel better.

My wedding ring and I are on the outs, apparently. If I had known we were fighting I would have bought it some chocolate or flowers or a dog or something.

Guys, I... I'm pretty sure my wedding ring left me. I think it packed its bags, checked into a hotel, and is preparing to decorate someone else's third finger on their left hand.

Either that or the cat knocked it off my computer desk, batted it around, and it is living under something and we just haven't found it yet.

It had better be that second one, because I have never been abandoned by an inanimate object before and I do not plan to start now.

4. We are in the "hurry up and wait" stage of home buying now. Every time a set of papers is served up to us to sign (and it has been a magnificent multi-course banquet of papers we must sign, so far - every time we think we're done we discover the last paper was just a palate cleanser before the next onslaught) they must signed right now. Jason and I work slightly different hours and while we have a scanner at home, we don't have a printer. I have a printer at work, but no scanner.

You can see where I'm going with this.

So there's a lot of "print out immediately and sign"... and then wait until I get home so I can get Jason to sign it and send it over.

But we've now hit the point where we're basically waiting on the lender to say "woo hoo!" to all the dollar signs in their eyes and give us money, and have had the inspection/termite inspection/etc and so forth and have just a couple more things to deal with when it comes to the sellers.

Hopefully we'll be living in our new home in a month or less. I am still wistfully dog-shopping and holding off on a couple of magazine subscriptions until I can give them the new address and it not be terribly presumptuous of me.

Oh, how we need to start packing. We so need to start packing.

Two years ago, when we were preparing the move from Illinois to South Carolina (yes, I had typed it the other way around originally, but I can edit these things so nyah), I already had piles of boxes in the extra room back in our duplex. Granted, there IS no extra room here (in fact, there are exactly three actual closed-off "rooms" - bedroom, bathroom, living room/kitchen/dining/etc) so there's really nowhere to put the boxes, but I am getting antsy. Hopeful and antsy.

It's a weird combination of feelings.

5. I am working a very, very long day. It's the next big opening, and we have three different shows starting up. We have one show in our upstairs gallery that is seriously cool; it's this guy who does life-size images of people made out of cut-up and glued/stapled/nails/pinned together denim. As in blue jeans.

Any pictures you could even see wouldn't do it justice; you have to seriously go look for yourselves. They are gigantic and so cool. The people are sometimes superimposed against cutouts of sinking ships, and run the gamut from an older man sitting in a chair to a little zombie girl with a sparkler.

Okay, she's not supposed to be a zombie, I don't think. But my brain, which has seen way too many horror movies, immediately reads her as one.

We have a landscape show that four different artists collaborated in that is very, very pretty. It's traditional painting - sometimes watercolor, sometimes oil, sometimes acrylic but simply landscapes. Waterfalls, mountains, monadnocks like Table Rock, fall leaves or just big, rocky outcroppings are all subjects utilized. I am illustrative at best and have traditionalist tendencies, so this is the kind of thing I find myself deeply interested in.

Also upstairs, we're running kind of a fun exhibition based on Route 66, the
Dixie Highway
, and that sort of culture of kitschy travel that used to be so big. The idea of a vacation, for instance, spent driving around seeing what there is to see instead of going to a specific place, staying there, and coming back with as few detours or scenic routes as possible. It's a neat juxtaposition or road maps and images of old roadside stands, mechanic shops, that sort of thing.

Have I mentioned I like working in an art and history museum? I'm not sure I've brought that up enough yet.

I think I could stand to bring it up a little bit more.

Tonight I get to smile and nod at a pile of people, schmooze when necessary, and make off with more catered food than is probably good for me. I also get paid overtime for this, so I feel like everyone wins here.

Or, you know, I win.

Same thing.

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