Thursday, July 03, 2008

So, THAT Happened

So, I don't really believe in astrology. I mean, I've found the personality description for my little slice of the zodiac to be spot on. But the day-to-day stuff? It didn't seem to jibe with my realities. I'd read the blurb for entertainment value, not so much for guidance. But these past couple of weeks? Yee-ikes! Many, many annoyances. Nothing catastrophic, just frustrating. This sent me running toward the mystical pages on the internets. Apparently, Mercury is in retrograde or some such, which means, "LtW, life will stink on ice 'til July 4."

Okay, there was nothing so specific as that, but that's what it boiled down to. I'll warn you, below is a bullet-pointed list of bellyaching. Having made that disclaimer, let me share with you what's been happening over the course of the past three weeks:
  • June 15: I hit a piece of junk in the road and blew a tire. Yippee!
  • June 16 - 18: The Girl came down with herpangina, which sounds like a total social disease. Turns out it's one of those viruses that kids pluck out of the ether. Joy. My chubby bundle of sunshine and happy was just the 30 lbs. of grumpy for three days. I'd hoped that the pediatrician would be able to prescribe some miracle drug, but alas, it was one of those delightful illnesses that just needs to be waited out. Since she couldn't go to daycare with a fever, Super Ninja and I "split-shifted" her care. I'd stay home in the mornings while he worked a half-day, then he'd tag in and I'd head off to work. I can't tell you how exhausting it is to look after one (or two) sick children and THEN go to work for six hours.
  • June 17: The Boy also seemed feverish and grumpy, so one day after the Girl went to the pediatrician, it was the Boy's turn. As it happened, he had two ear infections, likely caused by swimming the previous weekend. For that, we could enjoy the benefit of miracle drugs, i.e. antibiotics.
  • June 20: I got the tire fixed, which further ate into my work schedule. With travel and trainings abounding the following week, I couldn't really take any time off of work. There was just loads of stuff that needed to be completed, and no one that I could really delegate it to. See how much fun it is to be important?
  • June 21-22: I was horrifically sick. Flat on my back, can't do anything but suck down tea and cough drops sick.
  • June 23: Training day in King of Prussia, PA. Lost my voice. When I checked the mail when I arrived home, I'd received a notice of jury duty.
  • June 24: I really lost my voice. No squeaks, no gravelly rasp -- just whispering. This is also the day that I my sister's family and mine had dinner together because we wouldn't see them again before they moved to England for at least three years. Nothing like wishing someone farewell via semaphore.
  • June 25: I packed up the kids and drove to Pittsburgh. Yep, two kids, under five, four hours in the car, BY MYSELF, while I couldn't really talk to them. Happily, my in-laws had planned to meet us in Pittsburgh since it was not that far away from the town they call home. They helped out considerably during dinner, bedtime, and the next morning. In fact, they drove them to their home. Just them and the kids in the car together, which was a first.
  • June 26: Training day in Pittsburgh, PA. I'd had to scramble to get someone to come with me to co-present since listening to my voice could be classified as a form of torture. Seriously, I should've just picked up some Hall's stock.
  • June 26: This date gets TWO entries because of how fabulously awful it was. After the training, the plan was for me to drive to my in-laws and meet up with them, the kids, and Super Ninja, who was flying in to meet us (he wasn't able to drive with us due to a work obligation). Everything was going swimmingly, my mood was lifting, and even though I felt like I was gargling glass, I felt good 'cause I knew that my in-laws house would be this little oasis of calm and child-rearing assistance. You know what pops a good mood bubble really quickly, though? Running over a piece of truck debris in a construction zone. Let me explain...

    I saw something in the road that looked like the rubber tread of an exploded truck tire. The stretch of the turnpike that I was on didn't really have any shoulders to it, so I didn't have a lot of swerve room. I did what I could to avoid the debris, but not enough, really. How do I know that? Because of the KA-BOOM! that rocked the car. Oops.

    Immediately, I flipped on the blinker to get over, over, over as fast as I could. Once I was in the emergency pull of zone, I got out to look at what I assumed would be a shredded remnant of a tire and rim. I was especially bitter because I JUST HAD THE TIRE REPLACED. But, when I got to the passenger's side of the car, both tires looked fine. Not pristine, of course, but fine. What gives? I looked at the tires on the driver's side, and there were no problems there either. Shrugging, I hopped back in the car. When I put it into gear and drove for about ten meters, there was a strange sound, and I knew something was not right.

    I stopped the car, got out again, and knelt down on the hot gritty surface of the shoulder to look under the car. And I thought, "Wait, I don't think I've seen that before." I reached up and grabbed a hunk of steel and extracted it from the undercarriage of my car, much like you'd remove a splinter from a thumb.


    It was a flat piece of steel, maybe about twenty pounds. And it punched a hole in the floorboards in front of the seat that the Boy normally sits in. Digest that for a minute. It didn't shoot through like a javelin or anything like that, so it may not have injured him if he was in the car. But it ripped up the carpet and the underlay and left a hole in its wake that's about five inches in diameter. Fabulous.

    Back in the car, I rooted through my wallet for my insurance card, and the good folks in my agent's office told me that I should file a police report. Okay, I thought, can-do. But I didn't want to linger on the makeshift shoulder of the road as trucks and cars zipped by, so I drove to the closest toll plaza, which happened to be in OHIO. Grumble. I grumble because the folks at the toll plaza who normally help with such things told me that I need to file a report with a Pennsylvania state trooper. Off I went, back to Pennsylvania, to the first toll plaza I found, and the manager on duty called a state trooper for me.

    When Trooper Wolff pulled up to my car, he was wearing the big trooper hat, the mirrored Ray-Bans, and was smoking a big old stoagie. I was not expecting sympathy. But when he exited his patrol car and I showed him what I'd hit on the turnpike (which he recognized as a commercial truck's tie leaf), waves of sympathy came off of him. He firmly impressed upon me that I was lucky that no one else was in the car, and that the chunk of steel didn't pop a brake drum, or hit wires, or worse. I agreed with him, and had a half-minute mental breakdown on my drive away from the toll plaza.

    Did I mention the monsoon? No? Well, about a half hour before I arrived at my in-laws' house, the firmament opened and dumped all of the water on top of my route. And you know what you don't expect when you hit a lake-size puddle when you are driving through a rainstorm? You don't expect to feel a splash on your neck.
  • June 29: Seven hour drive home from in-laws'. This trip was fine for the most part, but the Boy got car sick about 10 minutes before we got home.
  • June 30: Training day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I had to drive Super Ninja's car. Ugh. It's a 10-year-old Chevy Cavalier. We're at the point where if it requires a repair of more than about $500, we'll probably just trade it in. You can imagine how fun it is to drive something like that for 300 miles.
  • June 30 - July 3: The kids' daycare provider is on vacation this week, so Super Ninja and I are split-shifting again.
  • July 3: Took the car in to the body shop, where they judged it to be unsafe to drive 'cause fumes could come up through the floorboards. Oh. Really? That would've been helpful to know before I'd been driving it around for a week.

But tomorrow, all of this annoyance is supposed to go belly-up. I'll keep you posted.

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