Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

Sometimes going on your own merry way is the only way to go

Just as I predicted, the nasty aftermath of the 2016 presidential election left me with a hangover. Not the garden variety, one-day affliction either, but a long-acting, and singularly joy-resistant strain. It didn’t care that the holidays were approaching, thus I didn’t care, either.

That wasn’t like me at all; I love the holidays. They’re just an excuse to do fun stuff with my family, like hunt for Christmas trees, hang up pretty lights, and make architecturally unsound gingerbread houses. But the thought of those things didn’t put a dent in my hangover.

The Yank tree hunt went forward the first weekend in December as usual and we had fun – Dad and I took turns using the saw to cut down my tree and then celebrated the early Christmas miracle of retaining all of our limbs – but the idea of decorating my tree sparked no enthusiasm. It did, however, spark enthusiasm from my neighbors. On seeing my car pull into the driveway with a tree atop its roof, they immediately mobilized to lend a hand. I politely declined, not because I didn’t appreciate their offer but because the presence of competent help would have minimized the chances that something would go comically awry, thereby reducing the chances that I could get a blog post out of the whole thing. Sadly, I got the tree upright and reasonably straight in the stand on the first try.

Two days later it remained vertical, so I decided to decorate it, solo.  I couldn’t summon up the usual urge to invite friends over for an evening of snacks and ornament origin stories (a Spam ball warrants an explanation), which made me realize I had to snap myself out of it. But how?

During a text exchange with my brother the following weekend, the answer came to me: force. Not a force, but The Force.

L.J. and I had been texting about travel when the topic of Star Wars arose, as it does, and he wrote:

Btw, are you flying down next weekend so we can see Rogue One?

He and I had grown up on the Star Wars franchise and went to see The Force Awakens with my niece and nephews when it came out last year. His  question about the latest movie, opening on December 16, was as natural as it was tongue-in-cheek. My response was, too:

We both know I’ve gone further for less.

It’s true — I’ve gone to Pennsylvania for bacon shirts and Seattle for Barry Manilow — and the Star Wars flicks are not my sister-in-law, Leslie’s, cup of tea, but there was no way I could pull off a flight to Atlanta on less than a week’s notice during a peak travel period. Yet I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. What if I could find a way not only to get there but to surprise my brother? I tested it with Leslie, and she loved it. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, until doing it became not an “if” but a “must,” and for almost entirely selfish reasons.

I cashed in some miles and booked a flight that would put me on the ground in Atlanta at 9:30 p.m. on Friday the 16th. With just a little travel luck – something I can’t always count on – both the plane and my spirits would achieve liftoff. I could hardly wait to give Leslie the news, and I could hardly wait to get there. That feeling of buzzy and nearly unbearable anticipation — a purely kid-at-Christmastime sensation — grew as I counted down the three days to my trip. By Friday afternoon I was ready to jump out of my skin.

I’d requested an Uber to take me to National Airport so I wouldn’t lose time parking. The driver pulled up right on time and got out of the car…dressed in full cowboy regalia. The only person on Earth who’d have appreciated that sight more than I did is my brother, which I took as an omen that everything was going to work out perfectly.

The driver tipped his hat and said, “Howdy, ma’am. Where y’all headed to?”

“The set of Tombstone or a Village People casting call, whichever is closer,” I wanted to say. But I just asked him to take me to National Airport instead. A missed opportunity, I know, but I had places to go.

As we got underway, he said, “I’m not from Texas,” simultaneously reading my mind and eliminating the only plausible explanation for his attire. He’s from Florida and has a passion for horses, so I guess he just wants to be ready in case a steeplechase breaks out on the Beltway. Outfit notwithstanding, the rest of the ride was uneventful, as was my flight to Atlanta for a change.

The minute we touched down, I sent Leslie an email to tell her I’d made it. I hopped in an Uber – this one driven by a person dressed for suburban Atlanta rather than the OK Corral – and in 30 minutes was standing in my brother’s driveway. I dialed his number. I rarely call him, especially after 10 p.m., so I wasn’t surprised when he answered on the second ring and asked what was up. Our dialogue went like this:

Me: Um, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m going to see the Star Wars movie soon, and I thought you should know.

Him (sounding a bit disappointed or envious, I couldn’t quite tell which): Aw, that’s okay, Wheat. Are you going tonight?

Me: Uh, well, really soon.

I put the phone on mute so I could knock on the front door.

Him: Are you going alone?

Me (still knocking, loudly): Haha, no…

Him: Who are you going with?

Me (still knocking): Um, this guy…

Him: Who is this guy, making you pick him up, and so late? And is he ever going to answer the door?

Me (still knocking): I don’t know, are you?

Him: Wait, are you downstairs?

Right then my sister-in-law cued up the Rogue One trailer, the Star Wars theme song began to play in the background, and I burst out laughing. Leslie and I had pulled off the perfect surprise.

Over the course of the next 40 hours, we not only saw the movie (which L.J. and I loved) but pimg_2126acked in a visit to the aquarium with my adorable little nephews, a delicious dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant, and a trip to Toys ‘R’ Us so the little guys could pick out a Christmas present from their aunt. My time in Atlanta flew faster than reindeer on Christmas Eve and my spirits were soaring just as high.

When my brother dropped me off at the airport on Sunday afternoon, I felt a bit sad on the one hand, yet on the other, I was looking forward to getting back home for Christmas with the rest of the family. Getting into the holiday spirit this year was as easy as going Rogue.

Hope all of you find your holiday spirit, too. See you back here soon!

 

Bread (and milk and toilet paper) and Circus

Last night I met my friend “Eric” for happy hour in Chinatown. Our friendship, which goes all the way back to my Orange Hunt Elementary and Lake Braddock Secondary School days, had been dormant for a decade or more, so I was looking forward to waking it up. 

To avoid the hassle of trying to find parking in that area, I decided to Uber and arrived at the restaurant at 5:30. When Eric and I emerged at 8, a dusting of snow coated the ground. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see it. A radio forecast I’d heard that afternoon mentioned the possibility in passing, and then, like a football team that mentally moves on to the next game while before winning the game currently in progress, encouraged residents to go ahead and pre-panic for this weekend’s Potentially Monumental Snowfall. Because no one wants to be caught off-guard when PMS hits.

I requested an Uber for my trip home and the app informed me there would be a surge charge of 3.8 times the normal fare. It asked if I still wanted a ride. With my home a mere 6 miles away from the restaurant, five words that sealed my doom scrolled through my brain: How bad could it be?

The Uber arrived and I got in. 

One hour, one mile and $50 later, I ditched Uber. Clad in fashion boots, a skirt and tights –I had at least worn a reasonably weather-worthy coat and a pair of gloves– I began the three-quarters of a mile walk to the Metro stop at Farragut West. I forced myself not to think about how I could have saved an hour, $50, and an unplanned stroll had I just gotten on the Metro in Chinatown, a block from the restaurant.

At Farragut West, I was greeted by an uncooperative fare machine, which meant I missed the next train and had to spend $20 on a Smartcard I don’t need. In fact, based on the way things were going, I shouldn’t have been in possession of anything bearing the label “Smart.”

I caught a Silver Line train twenty minutes later and soon had reached my stop at East Falls Church, just over a mile from my home. I had been operating under the mistaken belief that cabs would be lined up at the station, eager to benefit from people like me. I saw not a single cab. I began the 1.1 mile walk home, which actually was uphill, in the snow, in my boots. When I was a quarter-mile from home, I began to celebrate my good fortune in being reasonably close to public transportation and healthy enough to walk the few miles to it in my work clothes. I even patted myself on the back for having bought boots constructed of all man-made materials that don’t breathe at all. They were keeping my toes warm, so who cares if they make my feet sweat 90% of the time? 

I reveled in these thoughts and my proximity to home, oblivious to the fact that The Universe might be listening. The Universe reveres humility. It does not reward those who engage in congratulatory self-talk, especially when such talk celebrates an inadvertently astute footwear purchase. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when The Universe knocked my legs out from under me, causing me to do a complete and total butt-plant. Actually, it was more like a butt-plant/wrist-jam combo because, once I lost my balance, I reached out in a failed attempt to brace myself. Speaking of which, I’d like to have a word with whoever is responsible for human evolution. If humans in the act of falling universally and instinctively reach out to brace themselves, could you please give us something sturdier to use than the wrist? It’s like trying to prop up a refrigerator with a toothpick. 

I stood up, checked to see if The Universe had held up a score card, and limped home. As I changed out of my work-turned-workout clothes, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and noticed one of the hoop earrings I’d been wearing–my very favorite pair, given to me by a dear friend–was missing. So not only had The Universe knocked me flat, but it sent me home looking like a pirate. 

When I woke up this morning, my toothpick hurt like hell and I thought I might have fractured it. I went to urgent care, got X-rays, and was diagnosed with a severe sprain, though I learned a fracture may not show up for a few days. So I’d also like a word with the people who are always telling you to seek prompt medical attention. Evidently sometimes you should be fashionably late. 

From the urgent care I went to the grocery store, which, based on inventory levels, had last been stocked in 1923. Every vegetable or legume ever canned and/or bagged had been purchased. Even the beets were gone. I think we can all agree that nothing heralds the Apocalypse like a run on beets. And when I say the place had gone bananas, I mean it, because the only variety of bananas they had were the gone kind.

And common sense, the one commodity we all really need to stock up on when it snows around here? Long gone.

We probably won’t see it again for at least a week, so here’s hoping everyone rides out the PMS in warmth and safety!

The Universe probably didn't like it when I snapped this pic of a 6-car pileup on a side street, either.

The Universe probably didn’t like it when I snapped this pic of a 6-car pileup on a side street, either.