Fearing that my poor '95 Chevy Cavalier (with its sadly deteriorating underbelly) might not make it to Columbus and back, I rented a car (the office will pay for it) and drove down to a Prosecuting Attorney's Association Conference yesterday. Now, I say I rented a "car" in the loosest sense of the word. It was a Chevy Aveo. Have you ever tried to fold yourself into one of these teeny tiny little deathtraps? By the time I got home last night, my legs were ACHING from being folded up in the drivers seat for the six hour roundtrip journey. All in all, not a bad little car...just very small. I would definitely discourage anyone with longer legs than I have on my 5'5" frame from purchasing one of these little Flinstone-mobiles. There would be serious pain, I think, if the drive lasted any longer than about an hour.
Anyway...six hours in a tiny car and a subsequent eight hours in a boring conference gave me lots of "me" time to think. Aren't you so excited to learn whatever tiny car/boring conference wisdom I have to impart? Here goes...
*Have you noticed that the term "aggressive driver" has changed over the recent years? It used to be a label that we put on drivers who maneuvered recklessly in and out of traffic in order to get where they needed to go while setting land speed records. They put me on edge, but I never really paid too much attention to them unless one cut me off in traffic. But NOW...now "aggressive drivers" are openly hostile to anyone and anything that might happen to get in their way on the road. They will deliberately tailgate, cut you off and slam on their brakes, and just be a general all-out menace. I wonder about these people. What makes them so angry that they would willingly put other people's lives at risk? What's worth hurting or killing another person? Some sense of self importance? Scary
*Do you wonder about people who support war...and what their Christmas cards look like? Surely, they can't send out wishes for peace, can they? It seems somewhat hypocritical to "wish" for peace when you do everything in your personal power to support a violent cause. Peace, like any change, starts with small steps...forward action...real forward progress. It's not something you can wish for on one hand while deliberately undermining with your actions on the other hand. So why are people so afraid to be pacifist? To find alternatives to killing?
*The drive between Cleveland and Columbus has got to be the most boring drive known to man.
*When I found myself crying to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, I began to worry I was spending too much time alone. Perhaps I AM losing my mind. I pondered my reaction and this is what I came up with. I USED to be able to hear that song and smile and laugh and "let it all hang out." I USED to be able to have real carefree fun. I remember it all. But when confronted with happiness now, I'm always comparing it to the way it used to be. Yes, I can find happiness...but it's always accompanied by sadness because I know it's not the same kind of happiness I used to have. So if something like Margaritaville makes me cry, you'll just have to forgive me.
*I decided, in my tiny car, to listen to my tiny radio (no cassette, no CD, just a radio...I was thankful for FM quite frankly). It is very difficult to avoid Christmas music. And the middle of Ohio is quite religious...with LOTS of religious programming. My favorite..."It is divorce-proof, terror-proof, death-proof...the love of Jesus Christ." Now never mind for a moment the obvious insanity of comparing divorce, terror, and death as like things. But REALLY? Am I to assume then that those people that divorce, are victimized by terrorists, or otherwise die do not love Jesus Christ enough? Or perhaps the message is that even if these things happen to you, Jesus will still love you. Fat lot of good it does you or your loved ones if you're blown to bits by a terrorist in an airliner. But hey...why quibble about the details?
*A truck loaded with children's' headstones. I'm not kidding you. I otherwise would not have paid attention or known that's what these were. Fabulous bit of useless information to have in my brain. I wonder if there are any game shows I could win with it?
*When you have a flat tire and someone comes to change it for you, it is common courtesy to get OUT of the car before he does so. I find it entirely rude to expect him to heave your additional considerable weight on up the tire jack with the weight of the car for said tire change. Even if he says you can sit there, get out. Please. You're already playing helpless and not changing your own tire. Don't add rude and inconsiderate to your list of character qualities.
*Hankies should be outlawed. They are a disgusting throwback to a time when sanitation wasn't a great consideration. I have a hard enough time blowing my nose into a tissue that I know will sit in my trash can. Carrying your snot around in your pocket is just...gross. And good grief, do NOT stand with your hand in your pocket with said hankie and then outstretch it to shake hands with me in greeting. I may throw up in it.
*Like Superman has a cape and tights, lawyers have cellphones...it's part of their costume. And everyone has to take whatever call they receive, no matter what is going on around them and who they might be interrupting or inconveniencing. It was really quite hilarious to hear a cell phone ring in the midst of a boring-as-all-hell conference and see thirty lawyers all reach for their pockets. And the lucky winner is...Bob. For this phone call, Bob will get to leave the boredom for a brief moment to answer whatever earth-shattering crisis awaits him at the office. If it's anything like my office, I'm sure he'll order the blue pens instead of the black this time.
*What do lawyers do in a boring-as-hell conference anyway? Some, like the hankie-toting guy next to me, do crossword puzzles. Some read the paper. Some sleep. Some sit in the back of the room on the floor and hook themselves up to their portable computer and don't even pretend to be listening. Then, they all sit at lunch and complain about how they are treated like criminals by the Continuing Education folks...how difficult it is to fulfill all the requirements...how an hour should equal fifty minutes like in college (and the Florida Bar). For crying out loud, I wanted to scream with the immaturity of it all. Hey, here's a thought...you might actually LEARN something! I must confess, however, to reading a book during the lesson on employee discipline...a topic I do not handle in my current position.
*Oh...I almost forgot...the genius in front of me whose t-shirt said, "The Second Amendment...America's Original Homeland Security." Feel free to discuss. It's just too much material for me. My fingers might fall off from trying to type out all the things this one brings to mind.
*Lunch with the boss is the most awkward experience. Add to the mix, seven or eight male assistant prosecutors from another county and you have...well...boredom of the highest level. We don't socialize, the boss and I. We have a strictly professional relationship. I suppose I could have taken the time to develop a social relationship with him at lunch...but I just don't have the energy anymore. I'm tired. He'll just have to cut me some slack. Besides which, I doubt my farmer lifestyle and interests would jive very well with his St. Thomas vacationing one.
*Just HOW do you ruin Tiramisu? It looked beautiful. It tasted like...nothing. Severe and serious disappointment.
*The room was filled with people who don't know. They don't know what happened to me. They didn't know me before and they don't have a frame of reference to compare the me that is now. At first I was relieved by that. Then I was a little sad by it. I wish I had met most of these people before. So they would know that this quiet, sad, depressing woman is not who I was. So they would know that a piece of me is missing...forever. But then again, I can be who I want to be with people who don't know me at all. There is some freedom in that.
And then I ran into someone who did know...a former co-worker who was laid off in the budget crisis early in the year. Suddenly I felt as though someone had thrown an incredibly heavy blanket over me (Steve...think...Korean blanket of death type heavy). The weight of it came crushing down on me once again. It was almost physically pushing me into the ground, sagging my shoulders, casting my eyes downward.
I was so thankful it was the end of the conference. Three hours in the teeny tiny car gave me plenty of opportunity to cry and work it all out before the end of my day.