Wednesday, October 28, 2009

motivators, part 2

Part 2 of 2

Mom and dad had good ideas, but clearly home remedies wouldn't get me out of this mess. (I can't stop with the metaphors.) My mom told me to find two wooden planks and wedge them between the offending tires and the mud. The good thing about Durango, Texas is that there are plenty of wooden planks lying around. The bad thing about Durango, Texas is that I was there alone... facing an enormous field of wheat, or rice, or barley or something, from here to Kingdom Come. I mustered up every fourth grade science lesson about levers and pulleys I could,  it took 15 seconds to realize I would not be wedging jack-anything between my poor tires and the earth.

It gets better. AT&T had apparently taken a few minutes to realize just how remote my location was, but by golly, they were on to me now. Our conversation dropped and "No Service" popped up. Peace out, Triple-A option.

The next few minutes were like the eye of a hurricane. I became very calm and quiet and thought about all the people in history who had gotten stuck in the mud before cell phones. Probably lots, right? And they made it out eventually, no? I tried to recall if I had ever seen something like this on Forensic Files. Bad idea, every other episode starts out like this, except they usually have ex-husbands. My calm begins to dissipate. I seriously contemplate trekking to a farmhouse I see way off in the distance. I am not sure what to do.

Then, in my rear view mirror, I see a red Jeep Wrangler pull off the road and aim toward me in a blaze of glory. It is the tallest, widest and loudest vehicle I have ever seen. Keep in mind I am a good 50 feet from the road, so there's no way this was an accidental drive-by. In the passenger seat and at least as tall as the driver is an Irish Setter or some similarly large dog breed, which negated the possibility of anything bad happening. Everyone knows dog owners don't kill people. But you know what? I was just glad to see another human.

Red Jeep Guy drives up to my window and asks if I'm stuck. Well, yeah, kind of. Red Jeep Guy appears 17 or 18, but I'm a poor judge of age. Confidently, he says he'll get me out. Riding behind him on a three-wheeler is his girlfriend or sister, making the likelihood of murder almost zero. Something tells me they have plenty of experience with mud.

Red Jeep Guy can't hide his amusement at my predicament. He digs out an odd pulley instrument and attaches it to my car's hitch. While profusely thanking him, I pause to ask if I need to get out of the car. Hey, I do what I can. His reaction assures me in no uncertain terms that he's a mud aficionado. I decide it is best I stop talking. Sister Girlfriend on the ATV is directing him as though he was parallel parking. He helps me on wheel direction, and shoot. He pulls my car out of the mud.

Amidst the excessive thank-yous, my cell phone apparently sprung back into range and my parents called. I said not to worry, that I was being rescued, to which they shouted every variation of "GET HIS LICENSE PLATE! GET IT NOW!" Remember, solo drives = their daughter's a goner. Flustered, all I managed to get out was "What's your name?" His name is Brett. Brett from Durango, Texas, pop. 54. And then he was gone. I still have no idea how he saw or heard me.

Brett, you're an angel. Thank you, and thank your dog and your sister-girlfriend. You are so not Forensic Files.

Monday, October 26, 2009

tags: improbable scenarios, uncharted territory, motivators for continuing ed automotive classes

Part 1

Sometimes I wonder if it would behoove me to be a tad less forthcoming about the freak shows I encounter everyday. The reason is that even as the protagonist of these circus acts, I have a hard time believing them myself. Translation: A lot of my sentences begin with, "You will never believe what just happened!" followed by ten excitable re-tellings of the same story. I speak so fast I forget to breathe. Thank you, inventor of typing!

This weekend I was in Austin for my friend Shannon's beautiful wedding at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Sunday morning was sunny, lazy and Hill Country-perfect. So perfect in fact that I decided to take the scenic route. After a chicken fried steak stop at Threadgill's, I hit the road. Ahh, Texas. The first two hours were pleasant but unremarkable.

The events of the next two hours were both unpleasant and way too remarkable.

I was about ten minutes northeast, or southeast, heck maybe northsouth(?) of Temple, on FM 935, a back road you have never heard of. Temple, for Texas geography shunners, is maybe one-third of the way from Austin to Dallas. Most of the Earth's population, including plants, would say, "But Raaaaa-chel, Austin to Dallas is a straight shot on I-35!" These lifeforms are correct. But I really like driving through small towns, and today I had the time.

The last thing I remember seeing on my TomTom is "You are in Durango, TX." Well, hello Durango! I did not notice a sign informing me of this passage, but oh well. Since failing to plan is planning to fail, I pulled into a vacant... "lot" isn't the right word... a vacant patch of dead-looking grass, to check the map quickly. Then I put the car back into drive. There's really no segue into this: I revved the gas pedal, and the wheels moved... a lot... loudly... but my car wasn't moving.

Has your life ever turned into a slow motion replay where the sound gets really low-pitched and slurred? That's what mine did. Thoughts (and utterances) included: "WTF!? How can this be mud!? It looked like a patch of grass! It IS a patch of grass! So this mud is invisible!? How is my car stuck in invisible mud!? WTF? *@#*&$*$##!"

For the next ten minutes, I revved and tried to reverse. I revved and tried to drive forward. My engine made sounds I didn't know a Civic was capable of making. Have I mentioned I was in the middle of nowhere? Unsure of the official protocol when one's car is submerged in mud, I called my mom. To my parents, road trips, really any type of prolonged time spent alone = my impending murder. They were thrilled to receive my call.

(I am posting this as part 1 of 2 because this is getting way too long and I physically cannot type any longer. Part 2 is coming very soon and, spoiler alert coming, I do not die.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

best laid plans

Where to start? I'm pretty sure I wrote more in one preschool-era Weekly Reader than I have in the last six months. Although I doubt my hiatus from blogging -- I refuse to use the word "blogosphere," except of course when citing words I will not use -- was the catalyst for any suicide attempts, (if I'm wrong, my apologies) there were hundreds of times since April that I thought, oh boy, another incident/silent monologue/diatribe I should write about on my blog!

Just so we're clear, a little truth nugget: I have blogging anxiety. It's rare I'll get half a sentence down before I start ripping apart the four-or-so words in front of me. This acerbic alter ego (we'll call her Hate-chel) spews things like "Is that the best modifier you can come up with? Wow, lots of prepositional phrases there. Something very bad will happen if you don't diagram this sentence."

As it turns out, this type of anxiety is common enough to make other people write books about it. I read a good one called "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. It was comforting to learn that authors are afraid of writing sometimes, and that Hate-chel can even work in my favor if I let her. Then, after I breathed a big sigh of relief, guess what? I continued to not write.

Here's a non-comprehensive list of events that merited, but failed to produce, a blog post:

1) Not contracting swine flu.
2) Finding my favorite mascara at a Wal-Mart in Hawaii many months after it was discontinued and buying all four remaining tubes... expiration, schmexpiration!
3) Eating at Chick-Fil-A six days in a row which is technically the maximum consecutive number of days anyone can eat there due to that keepin'-the-Sabbath-holy business.
4) Chipping my tooth on a tortilla chip and realizing the halloween costume possibilities.
5) Mike deploying for six eight months.
6) Driving from San Diego to Dallas. It was fun!
7) Reading everyone else's entertaining, informative blogs and wondering why I was still making excuses.

A truckload of stuff has happened in the last six months and my hope is to revisit it here in the coming days. Not every blog post (are you listening, Hate-chel?) needs to read like a doctoral dissertation. That kind of defeats the purpose of blogging, doesn't it? Now I just need to show up again tomorrow.