Category Archives: Driving

Back with Julie

One week after landing in a hazy, overcast, gray Geneva, Switzerland, I had my very first taste of what I’d moved 3,000 miles to experience.  And it was, of course, magical.

I was alone for the first time in weeks.  Exploring.  John was working, Jacob was safely at his first day of school.  I was on my own, with only our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charlie, for company when it happened.

I was driving down the Route de Divonne when the clouds, at long last, parted.  And there they were – just past the now glistening Lake Geneva — the mountains.  The Alps!  Mont Blanc, with its year-round snowy peak, the highest mountain in Europe. The Alps danced right there — just through my windshield.  I could practically reach out and touch them, taste them, smell their beauty.  It was magical.  Breathtaking.  Inspiring.  Unforgettable.

Google Photo

Google Photo

I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  You know just what I mean, don’t you.  I felt like Julie when she is up there in the mountains all by herself.  When she throws her arms wide and sings with all her heart, The Hills Are Alive, With the Sound of Music.  And they are.  Trust me.  They are.

I slowed down, tried to breathe, tried to memorize the moment and keep it in my heart. Tried to capture the moment forever.  I also tried not to hit another car.

And then, well, something else happened.  From a side street to my left came a small car.  It turned in front of me, pulling behind it a long green open-air trailer.  Neatly stenciled on the back in a lacy, delicate script were these words:

jardin naturel

“Natural Garden,” in French.

On top of that trailer sat the largest pile of steaming cow manure I have ever seen.

Yes, my first solo excursion in the Swiss countryside became a metaphor for life as an ex-patriot living there:  There were moments of majestic beauty that I call “Julie Andrews Moments,” when I was filled with beauty and awe.  When I honestly felt like the luckiest person on earth.

And there was a lot of shit.  These two elements combined with travel to places I never dreamed I’d see, made our time in Geneva the adventure of a lifetime.

 

*     *     *

My bloggin’ buddy, Naomi, a wonderful traveler who actually posts her own pictures and does not cut them from Google, wrote this post about a trip to Switzerland.  Naoimi inspired me to re-post this old, old post.  I wrote it back in the days when you didn’t know me.  When you didn’t realize that some way, somehow, shit is always a metaphor for my life.

And if you ever get the chance to go to Switzerland, do it.  Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 — it’s not worth all that much over there!

Google Photo

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Driving, Family, Geneva Stories, Huh?, Humor

One Born Every Minute

Just today I realized that I really am a good person.  Nice.  Law-abiding.

It’s true. Because somehow today I did not live out my longest held fantasy.  One that I’ve wanted to enact since childhood.

I will admit that I was close to doing it.  Possibly closer than I have ever been to saying “What the Hell, I’m gonna do it! — Now!  Today!”

I will admit to seriously considering doing it just for the moment when I was struggling to get into the driver’s seat of my car today at lunch time.  The moments.  OK, it took half of my damn lunch hour.

You see, I had an important errand that I had to take care of.

But some asshole had parked so close to my car that I couldn’t even get my purse into the car from the driver’s side.

Did I deserve to be placed in this, ummm, position?  Did I park outside of the white line? No. I was parked just fine, thank you very much.  Parked within the designated parking spot.  Straight.  Did I mention that I was well within the white lines on both sides of my car?  Well I was.

I did not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

So when I realized that without liposuction, a detention in a concentration camp or a colonic, there was no way in hell I could get to the driver’s seat from the driver’s side.  I was annoyed, I stood there for minutes with my hands on my hips, glad there were no children milling about to increase their vocabulary.

But I had no choice; I had to go. So I walked to the passenger side of the car, to climb into the driver’s seat. I soon realized that the driver’s seat was as close to the steering wheel as vehicularly-possible.  I realized that I was also not supposed to exert myself following my surgery.

Did I mention that it was important that I go?

So I struggled to get my body into the driver’s seat without a cerebral hemorrhage.

Somehow, I managed.

The cerebral hemorrhage happened when I carefully backed out of my parking spot, and realized two things:

  1. There were 24.5 parking spots in that section of the parking lot alone, and five floors of empty parking spots on the floors above us; there was no reason for someone to park in such an assholic/inconsiderate manner.
  2. The car sported a special license plate.

Instantly, I started fantasizing. Within a heartbeat, I was transported back in time. Teleported to the very first movie I remember watching.

I was very young.  Young enough to be crabby that my brother, Bob, had control of the TV.  Annoyed that he was watching a movie instead of cartoons.  Annoyed enough to forget that as long as the TV was on I didn’t really care what was showing.  (I had, just that morning, been watching the test pattern.)

The movie was brilliant, and I have never watched the test pattern since.  It was called

If I Had A Million

 It was a compilation of a bunch of sequences where various characters were given a million dollars that they could spend however they chose.  It later became the TV series “The Millionnaire” where a wealthy man would give people $1 million as long as they didn’t tell where it came from.

Anyway, in the move If I Had A Million, WC Fields’ lady-friend Mary had just had her new car ruined by what we would today call an “asshole,” but who was then called a “Road Hog.” When WC Fields and Mary Boland  got their million, they knew just what to do:

They bought a bunch of old clunker cars, and whenever there was a road hog around, they would ram their clunker into him, causing the jerk to totally wreck his own car, along with theirs.  But that didn’t matter, because that was why WC and Mary had bought those old clunkers!

They did this repeatedly.  And it has been my fondest wish since I was about six years old, to be able to do that to the bad drivers, the folks who cut people off, who weave and edge and drive dangerously.

Revenge would be so sweet!

But in spite of being a wise ass, I am not an asshole. I did not smash the car that parked so inconsiderately. I did not accidentally-on-purpose run my keys along the $60,000 Audi Q7 SUV. I did not even spit in its general direction.

It was especially challenging because I realized that the owner is represents everything I hate. I realized that I’d seen him before, changing lanes discourteously.  He (and yes, it was a he) had an overpriced car that he drove like he owned the road.  And those specialty license plates?

Photo Credit:  VA DMV Website

The Asshole was A Tea Partier! Photo Credit: VA DMV Website

 

And I realized that I really needed to feel sorry for the dumb rich guy.  You see, this genius paid extra taxes to the Commonwealth of Virginia so that he could protest paying taxes.

Photo Credit:  izquotes.com

Photo Credit: izquotes.com

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, Elections, GOP, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Virginia, Wild Beasts

I Coulda Been a Contender!

Have you ever wanted to leave a different impression on folks around you than you actually do?

Yeah, me too.

In high school, boys found me cute.  Now to all you high school age boys reading this, please note that the way to a girl’s ummm, heart, is not via the word “cute.”  By the end of my senior year, I had had it with that word.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that my older sister, Judy, was seriously sexy.  Nope.  Nothing to do with that.

As I entered English class one day, my friend Jonathan was still chuckling over something adorably cute I had said or done in the class we had together earlier in the day.

“Elyse,” he said, chuckling, “you are so cute!”

“Really?” I responded.  “Damn it, I always wanted to be voluptuous.

Jonathan’s mouth, no doubt, is still hanging open.

Years later when I played basketball for a law school team (I was an honorary student at the time with gym privileges), I wanted to be tall.  Very tall.  Sadly, tallness is something you cannot fake.  Especially if you are 5 foot 2.  Damn.  And did I mention that I’m slow, too?  Yeah.  Molasses.

But I’m resourceful, so when my opposing guard, all 12 feet of her, hovered over me whenever I got down court towards my basket, I improvised.  I shot the ball from center court.  Of course I made the shot.  Alas it was before you got 3 points for such skill.

Shooting hoops is a skill that has helped me throughout my lifetime.  I am never, ever, out of reach of the trash basket.  Yes, I am that good.

As I’ve aged, though, I reluctantly accepted the fact that I would never be either voluptuous or tall.  So I wanted to be intimidating.  Physically intimidating.  At 5’2″.  You got a problem with that?

You’ll be pleased to know that now, and for the near future, I could scare the hell out of you.  Or anybody.  If only I’d remember to.

Where I live, the guys who design the roads like to pretend that we are waaaaay out in the country.  They do this by insisting on putting one lane bridges over bridges that cross streams connecting two pieces of major roads.  These road designers either have bizarre senses of humor or a sadistic streak.  Maybe both.

As you drive towards the one lane bridge, you note a white line and a “yield to oncoming traffic” sign.

(Google Image)

(Google Image)

It’s terribly quaint.  You are expected to take turns.

But this is 2014, and there are lots of overachievers around here who flunked only one course on the way to their advanced degrees:  Turn Taking.

On Sunday, I approached one of these bridges, slowed down, and stopped at the white line.  It was the oncoming car’s turn.  After the driver of the oncoming car went, I started forward to take my turn.

Flying down the hill towards me and the one lane bridge I hadn’t yet reached, was someone who didn’t know how to take turns.  And she wasn’t going to stop her Mercedes SUV for me.

My mouth ran on with some choice words, but my foot wisely pressed the brake, and the collision that would have otherwise occurred, didn’t.  But I was, pissed.  And swearing.  And really wishing that I was a frightening, imposing looking person so that I could chase after the asshole and confront her.  Yell at her.  Threaten her.  Teach her how to wait for her bloomin’ turn.

A mile down the road I stopped short and pulled over.

“SHIT!” I shouted as I realized that I had missed my chance.  My chance to stand in front of someone and scare them.  To make them wonder just what I am capable of.  To wonder if they would be able to survive an encounter with me.  All 5’2″ of me.

Because you see, these days I’m a wee bit scary looking.  I look like I’ve been in a knife fight.  Like an abused wife.  But like someone likely gave way more than she got.

Yup.  You can call me Scarface.

Remember last month when I told you about the Valentine’s gift I got? You remember, don’t you — I got melanoma!  (Although, I would have preferred flowers.)

In the intervening weeks, I’ve de-melanoma’d.  Yup, I’ve had it taken out by a plastic surgeon.  And while I will look just fine in two shakes of a dog’s tail, right now I look a bit intimidating.

OK, So I have no makeup on.  Sue me.  Just Don't Mess with Me!

OK, So I have no makeup on. Sue me. Just Don’t Mess with Me!

AND I DIDN’T USE IT!  I didn’t chase after her and make her fear for her life!  I didn’t teach her how to take turns!  Damn it!  I coulda been a contender!

*     *     *

This was just a little ditty to let you know that I had my surgery, that I am now cancer free and just fine, thank you very much.

But what about you?  Did you do what I told you? (No comments from you, Guap!)

Save your skin.  Right now.  Listen to me, and follow my instructions precisely:

  1. Go into your bathroom
  2. Take off all of your clothes
  3. Examine your skin
  4. Check spots, moles and discolorations carefully
  5. If anything doesn’t look right, if you have a bad feeling, if something is bigger or darker or just different, go to a dermatologist and have it checked out.

Even though I look pretty scary now, I won’t for long.  But I won’t forget to use what I have — I will intimidate assholes for several weeks until my scar fades.

But you know what?  The real way I’ll get back at folks who don’t know how to take turns is to take away their sunscreen.  That’ll fix ‘em!

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Filed under Cancer, Driving, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Humor, Melanoma, Out Damn Spot!, Stupidity, Traffic

Siri-ously Monday

It was apparent pretty much from the start that today was Monday.

I got up late and everything that followed was just slightly off.

Traffic was awful.  I mean, this is DC – traffic is always awful.  But today I found myself stopped in places where I usually go.   I watched the clock tick past 9:00.  Past 9:15.

Luckily for me, though, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  When I arrive late, I stay late.  It all works out.  But still, I’d rather get there and not just hang out, stopped in traffic.

I thought I should call the office and let them know I was on my way.  Naturally, I had an ulterior motive.

Because I planned to call Yenny.

Yenny is my friend and colleague at the office.  But she has magical powers.  Because when I’m stuck in traffic and I call Yenny, traffic begins to move. It was important that I talk to Yenny or I knew I’d never make it to work.

I was at a dead stop.  My cell phone was in my pants pocket, but I put my earpiece in place and clicked that bluetooth on.  Siri, the magical creature in my iPhone sang a note to let me know that she was listening.  That she was ready to help.

In the months that I’ve had my iPhone 5C, I’ve come to rely on Siri for just these situations.  She’s great.  The Siri who lived in my iPhone 4?  An absolute idiot.  We were not friends.  We had words.   Those words rarely had more than four letters.  Siri4S would respond “what did I do to deserve that?”  Trust me.  She deserved it.

But Siri 5C?  She is a star.  She doesn’t let me down.  She helps me.  I love Siri5C.

“Call Yenny,” I instructed her politely.  I never swear at Siri5C.  In fact, she often comments on how polite I am with a casual “don’t mention it,” when I thank her.

Now this morning when I asked her to call Yenny, I realize that I didn’t say “please.”  That is because last week when I was in precisely this situation, and I said “Please call Yenny.”

“Should I call the Police?” Siri asked.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  She may have been having a rough start to her day.  Still, I decided not to say “please” to Siri.  I always say “thank you,” though.

What did Siri say to today’s request  to “Call Yenny?”

“I don’t see that,” she said.  “Did you mean ‘conference call number’?  Or would you like to call Gastroenterology Fellow on call.”  She only heard the “call” and went from there.  This wasn’t an auspicious beginning.

“No,”  I said.  Clearly, Siri was having a rough start to the day, too.  I clicked my Bluetooth off, and clicked it on again immediately.

“Call Yenny … ” I gave Siri Yenny’s last name.  On a bad day, Siri will cooperate the second time I ask her to do something.  Much like my son.

“Do you want local businesses beginning with “call”

“No, Siri.” I said. I hung up.

Then I had an idea.  I figured I’d have Siri call my number at the office – and presto — I’d be connected!  So I clicked on again and said “Call Me-“

But I immediately remembered that “Me-Office” goes to my direct line, not the main company line.  So I’d be able to leave myself a message that I’d be late — which I already knew.  Because, well, you know.

So I interrupted myself.  Figured I’d stop before I said something stupid to Siri.  But it was too late.

Because what Siri heard was “Siri, call me … never mind.”

”OK,” Siri responded.  “From now on, I’ll call you ‘Never Mind.”

Sadly, this may be an improvement.   Before he went back to college, Jacob instructed Siri to call me “Queen,”  I couldn’t figure out how to change it.

Now I have.

Is it Friday yet?

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Driving, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Stupidity, Technology, Wild Beasts

Sharing the Boss

Some things are just too good to keep to myself:

 

 

I found this at Dailykos.com, and it made my morning– enjoy!

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Filed under Campaigning, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Daily Kos, Disgustology, Driving, Elections, GOP, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Stupidity, Traffic