So, that happened.

We had an adventure on Wednesday. Not the good kind. (But if you stick with me there will be Muppets at the end.)

Okay, you know how trucks have this sticker on the back?

Vehicle-Caution-Sign-S-4466

Everyone with half a brain knows to stay clear of a truck that’s turning right. Right?

Related (kind of): you know how you’ll be waiting in the right turn lane at a red light, and you creep forward to see if you can turn right on red, and the car that’s going straight will edge forward as you do because the driver is a total dick?

So here’s what happened to us on Wednesday. And I will start by saying: we are all FINE.

Will’s Vespa wouldn’t start (it needs a new battery AND probably has a clogged fuel line – neither of which will be very costly to get fixed but we have to time it just right) so the kids and I put on pants and we all piled into the car.

About two blocks from our building, there was a USPS truck–a semi–stopped at a red light. He was all the way to the left, going straight. Will pulled up alongside him on the right, to turn. While the light was still red, the truck began to pull forward. I thought to myself, I can’t believe a fucking semi is intersection-blocking us.

And then he started to turn right.

And I had just enough time to think, “Holy shit, he is going to kill us” before the truck made contact with the front driver’s side corner of our car.

AND THEN HE KEPT GOING.

That’s right, the motherfucker never saw us, and couldn’t hear the impact. Which, amazingly, had been very slight. I got out to survey the damage and…there wasn’t any. The paint was scraped. Seriously, that was IT. Our car is so low that only the (fucking gigantic) tire had hit us.

So then we spent half an hour waiting for the police to show up and take our statement. Because if you have a hit and run, you report it. (I mean, I think so. But I also think you DON’T TURN RIGHT ON RED FROM THE LEFT LANE WITHOUT SIGNALING OR USING YOUR MIRRORS.) After 30 minutes the dispatcher called and said, “I have an officer at [the intersection where we were] and there’s no sign of an accident.” I said, “That’s funny, because we are at [INTERSECTION WHERE WE CLEARLY WERE] and I see no sign of an officer.” Only I wasn’t as sarcastic as I wanted to be. I mostly save that for the internet.

Eventually he found us and took down all our information, and was even nice about the fact that I couldn’t find the current insurance card. And he showed Sam the computer in his car–Sam was very impressed. Just when he was finished with us, a couple of minivans pulled over across the street, fresh from a fender bender. Poor officer.

So that sucked. I’ve been jumpy for days, and really angry. And so goddamn busy OMG.

In an effort to keep from killing everyone, I’ve developed an obsession with “Moving Right Along.” Kermit and Fozzy soothe me. Here:

(YouTube videos never load for me on the first try. Try refreshing the page, or just click here.)

Everyone stop helping, please.

The drive-by parenting epidemic has returned! It’s been a while, but well-meaning strangers are making up for lost time!

Here are two examples.

1. Sam likes to take the stairs, and have me take the elevator. It’s a thing for him, a little piece of freedom that he feels he is tricking me into giving him. When we meet at our floor, he is unspeakably proud of himself. I love letting him do this. A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor held the elevator for us. Sam took off up the stairs and I pressed the button for our floor. The neighbor, a man about my age or a little younger, said, “You’re letting him take the stairs by himself?” I said yes, I was. “You shouldn’t do that.” I should have ignored him, but instead I said, “Oh really?” and he took that as an invitation to explain to me that “all kinds of people” live on my floor. I informed him that I myself have lived there for eight years. Somehow, instead of taking this to mean that maybe I know more about my neighbors than someone who lives on a different floor, he decided to tell me that some of them “smoke crack!” I laughed my ass off and said, “I really doubt they’re going to offer any to my five-year-old.” I mean, honestly. If you are addicted to crack, you don’t SHARE. What a ludicrous idea.

2. Sam does not like leaving speech therapy. Specifically, he wants to stay and play in the waiting room after his sessions. On Tuesdays this is a problem, because we only have half an hour to get to Burbank and pick up our CSA box. Today he was determined to stay and play with some boys who were building with the blocks, and I had to literally drag him away and hold him in a chair to get his shoes on. The woman who was with the boys (I don’t think she was their mother, though that’s really not relevant) came over and told Sam that he could play with the boys after his mom put on his shoes. Um, no, lady. He can’t. That’s why I keep telling him we don’t have enough time to play today. So SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU’RE MAKING IT WORSE.

And that is why I hate everyone.

Well, this is just ridiculous.

Hands up, who remembers how I got mugged/carjacked when I was pregnant with Sam?

Yeah. This is much, much less awful, but still rates pretty high on the annoyance scale: tonight I got in my car and discovered that it had been ransacked. The joke, of course, is that there was nothing missing except perhaps something less than 50ยข in change (and really, there might not have been any change to begin with). You guys, I have nothing of value in my car. Theoretically the car itself is valuable, but 1) it’s a stick shift, and 2) there was no damage anywhere so they clearly didn’t break in.

That’s right, we must have left the car unlocked. This is so remarkably unlike me that I’ve spent the entire evening trying to figure out an alternate theory, but I’ve got nothing.

SIGH.

Someone’s in the wrong career.

Today Sam and I went to the Autry. We had lunch there, thanks to one of those dumb-ass focus groups that Will had participated in last night (whoo, money!). Instead of getting the High Plains Drifter (a veggie burger with green chilies, pickles, and cheddar that I always get) I got the roasted veggie quesadilla. Normally I avoid roasted veggies when eating out, because 90% of the time that just means rubbery eggplant (bleh) and mushrooms (double bleh). I am so glad I chanced it this time because the eggplant was not rubbery and there were no mushrooms and it was DELICIOUS. Sam, being terribly predictable, had jalapeno potato chips. We shared an orange juice.

After we ate we went into the museum, and Sam (see above, re: predictable) led me straight to the courtyard so he could climb in the stage coach and look at the waterfall. What do you mean, there are exhibits at the Autry? I certainly have not seen them lately. There was a big school group in the courtyard, having a blast with the Gold Rush, and we got to see the Surveyor’s Office open for the first time. It’s set up as a tiny General Store and they were giving the kids certificates for the “gold” they panned. Very cool.

When we went inside Sam surprised me by going straight up to the horse (not a real one) and starting to climb up on it. He has to my knowledge only been on the horse once and it was under extreme pressure from his father and myself and I don’t think he particularly liked it. This time, though, he was trying to figure out how to get up. I showed him where to put his foot but just then a bunch of boys ran up and Sam became distracted/self-conscious/I don’t know and changed his mind. As we climbed down, the boys’ teacher came up, talking in that LOUD VOICE some adults have that I really really hate. “OH, THEY CHANGED IT, IT’S A HORSE NOW. THAT’S NO FUN, COME ALONG.” When the boys said they wanted to get on it anyway, even if it is just a horse now (um, it’s been a horse for at least five years), he sighed loudly and said, “ONE MINUTE.” By the time Sam and I got upstairs he and the boys were already there.

Later, after a disastrous visit to the zoo which I shan’t recount, Sam and I passed the teacher in the parking lot where he was scowling and sucking on a cigarette. I can’t even begin to imagine why he went into teaching. (And I know he was a teacher, not a parent chaperon, because he had a name tag identifying him as such.)

Fuck Digital

My poor little PowerShot has not been the same since it fell in a puddle. I thought it was OK except for a horrible scraping noise when the lens extends and retracts, but I’ve realized that my photos have spots on them. Outdoor shots with lots of light are OK, but anything indoors is spotty. If I use the (optical) zoom, the spots are very pronounced. I tried cleaning the lens and it didn’t make a lick of difference, so I am stuck with the conclusion that the inside of the lens has water spots.

FUCK.

I have three choices.

  1. Have it repaired. This will cost at least $109.
  2. Get a new camera. This will cost at least $199.
  3. Use my film camera. This will cost whatever film and developing costs.

The last option will severely limit the number of snapshots I can take. On the other hand, it will improve the control I have over my photos by about a thousand percent. Just for fun, I pulled out my Olympus OM1 and looked at it. Hmm, the lens is dusty. OH LOOK, I can just unscrew it and clean it.

Film wins!

(But I still need to do either option 1 or option 2 as well. Fuck again.)

I give up.

I’m late renewing the registration on our car. I don’t ever mail it anymore, since the six month ordeal last year that involved sending in the Vespa’s insurance information THREE TIMES and each time receiving a letter stating that we cannot complete the registration without insurance information, which culminated in a citation and Will taking unpaid time off to go to court to prove that it WAS registered. I’ve tried three times in the last week to go renew the car’s registration in person. (Of course the registrations renew six months apart, so I have to do this twice a year.)

First attempt, the line of cars to get into the parking lot went all the way down the block. (Locals: it’s the DMV on Formosa, and the line went almost all the way to Target.) Um, no.

Second attempt: line was only three cars long and contained within the parking lot. Waited 15 minutes. Not ONE person exited the building. Strike two.

Third attempt (today): No parking spots, but I am the first person in “line.” Man conducting inspection waves me over, tells me to park in spot that is being vacated. Specifically asks if I am there for an inspection, and I tell him I am there for registration renewal. (That is important.) Go inside, get a number. Ack, 108 and they are on 87. Sam, fortunately, is in good spirits. We brought balloons, and he wants to go up and down the ramp and between the rows of seats. No problem, he is not bothering a soul. I follow him around for half an hour, maybe 40 minutes. With two numbers to go until ours, a security guard appears. OH BOY, HERE WE GO. He tells me I cannot allow Sam to run back and forth. I ask why, he says, “They don’t like it.” Oh, fine. I tell him that I can allow Sam to go back and forth (he was not running) and not bother anyone, or I can force him to stop and he will scream and bother everyone. He says, “You have to do something.” So I pick Sam up and he screams. One number till ours. It will be fine. And then a woman appears and says, “Do you have a 2006 Mazda?” Yes, I do. I briefly wonder if she is going to give me grief for my expired tags (gee, why do you think I’m here?) but instead she tells me I have to move my car, that is not a parking space. “But I was TOLD to park there.” “No you weren’t, you have to move it NOW.” So we go to move the car, losing our place in line in the process. Sam loses his mind at being forced to leave. He refuses to get in the car and I have to force him into his seat. We pull out of the perfectly good parking space and wait in the lot along with everyone else on earth. Sam screams and screams. I beg him to stop and tell him we will go back inside as soon as there is a spot. A man is sitting in a pickup waiting for someone inside. I briefly consider getting out and telling him what a selfish ass he is, taking up a spot when so many people are waiting. I don’t. His friend comes out and gets in the cab. I turn on my signal. They sit there. And sit there. And sit there. I know they aren’t waiting for anyone else because there are no more seats in the vehicle. I start to cry, too, and we leave.

I can’t do this again. I am defeated.

Why I Hate People

This morning Sam and I had to go to the DMV to renew Will’s overdue registration and to Trader Joe’s for tomatoes and beer (we have our priorities).

The driver’s license DMV on Cole is a horrible, evil place. In comparison, the registration renewal DMV on Formosa is kind of like heaven. But of course, we managed to get the one grouchy clerk. When our number was called, we went up to the “window,” actually a cubicle behind a chest-height counter. I set Sam on the counter and pulled out the renewal form and our insurance card. The woman took her sweet time getting to me, and when she finally looked up she gasped in horror and ordered me to “get the baby down.” Which is ridiculous but I did it anyway. Sam was in a horrible mood and sitting on the counter was the first time he’d been happy all freakin’ morning; as soon as I lifted him down and put him on my hip, he started shrieking and didn’t stop until we left. But god forbid he sit on the goddamn counter.

AND THEN. We went to TJ’s, and Sam was OK, a little cranky but mostly helpful. When it was time to pay I set him on the check-writing counter, where he likes to sit, and he helped me run the debit card through. As we walked away the man behind us asked the cashier to wipe down the counter where Sam had been sitting. Which–what? WHY? He’s wearing pants, you know.

Of course, that just might reflect the sort of people who shop at Trader Joe’s.

I’d say I’m staying in the house for the rest of the day but tonight is knitting so fuck that.

Me: 0 Universe: 3 billion

Well, I now know for certain that there are at least 30 people who think I am a shitty parent.

Sam was almost out of clean diapers. I put the laundry together and got his stroller out, figuring we’d walk to the post office after starting the washers and pick up a package that was waiting there. Sam immediately climbed in and tried to buckle himself.

My first mistake was thinking I could put the heavy laundry basket on top of the stroller and have Sam walk downstairs. He got out happily but when I put the basket on top he started screaming. I thought about it, and opted to try to articulate his feelings for him since he wouldn’t talk. I suggested that he was angry because the stroller is HIS, and he wanted to ride in it. He started to calm down a little. Since I kinda thought he had a point, I decided to push him in the stroller and carry the laundry. This was NOT EASY, but I’d committed to it and there was no way I was going to try to change the deal again.

We started the laundry and I tried to walk out of the laundry room, but I’d forgotten that Sam gets very anxious about the laundry basket. He seems to think that we should not leave it, which is entirely reasonable but really annoying. So he carried it. While in his stroller. It was totally hilarious. I have pictures.

So we went to the post office, where the line was HUGE. Fortunately, the guy getting packages asked if anyone else had a slip, and I did, and so we got to bypass the line. Unfortunately, Sam wanted to get out of his stroller. I know from past experience that when he is On The Loose at the post office, he runs straight for the door. Which leads outside to a busy intersection. Fun! However, I got him out. It seemed like a good idea at the time–we’ve been working really hard on getting him to ASK for things instead of just yelling, and he asked very nicely. But when I wouldn’t let him push the basket toward the door, total meltdown ensued. He was screaming so loudly I couldn’t hear anything else. I sat down on the floor and held him tight, talking to him. A woman nearby glared at me.

Oh! I forgot to mention the best part! The recent weird-ass weather has resulted in mosquitoes. Sam woke up covered in bites and his eye swelled up again! The other one this time, for the sake of symmetry or something. So he’s got a fat, red eyelid on top of the screaming fit. Now, I KNOW that this is not a serious thing. He has sensitive skin and is reacting normally. If he had hives, trouble breathing, or obvious discomfort I would get some Benadryl and call the pediatrician. But truly, he is FINE. He just looks awful because his skin is so fair.

Finally the man returns with our package and I carry a screaming Sam over to the window to collect it. Then I put him down and give him his basket. Of course he stops screaming, and the glaring woman decides to give me her totally unwanted opinion: “I think it’s OK for him to play.” I refrain from saying what I really want to and merely say, “He would run outside.” She then says, “Oh, he has temper tantrums.” Which is about as helpful as when people stop me on the street to tell me, “He has red hair!” As if I might not have noticed. I again bite my tongue and we leave. Only when we get outside, Sam doesn’t want to walk toward home and has another screaming fit. A woman with a little girl about a year old stops and asks Sam what’s wrong. This does not bother me at all, and in fact I appreciate her concern. She asks me if he’s OK and I say, “He’s mad at me.” She tells me that her daughter had a fit in Blockbuster. “I was so embarrassed!” she says.

I am starting to feel better when some cunt walking past stops and demands to know what’s wrong with his eye. I tell her it’s a bug bite, even though I want to tell her to mind her own goddamn business. She repeats, “A bug bite?” like she doesn’t believe me. I say yes and she says, accusingly, “You should take him to the doctor!” “For a bug bite?” “Yes!” And that is when I started saying what I wanted to, despite the nagging feeling that I should let it go. “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

Finally Sam calmed down and we began to walk toward home. As we crossed the entrance to the post office parking lot a man pulled in and almost hit Sam. This would be frightening enough if he’d simply not seen Sam, BUT HE DID. He just didn’t have time to wait and zoomed in the second he had clearance. I yelled, “You can’t wait for a kid?” He gestured at me. I have no idea what the gesture meant, but I doubt it was anything kind.

We continued to the corner. Now, normally the rule is “You hold my hand or I hold you.” In other words, Sam has to hold an adult’s hand or be carried across the street. He does not like this rule. Today, since he was pushing his laundry basket, I just grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt as we started to cross. Well, that was Not OK. He screamed and sat down in the gutter. I did the only thing I could think of, as there were cars coming from three of the four directions: I grabbed Sam, put him IN the laundry basket, and carried it while pushing the stroller. This was twice as awkward as it sounds, plus he kept trying to get out.

We passed in front of a minivan, Sam screaming. The driver OF COURSE had to say something. I only caught “control him.” I turned around. “WHAT?” He didn’t do the smart thing, which is realize that maybe I am a little busy and drive on, but instead said, “He should be in the stroller.” I said absolutely the only thing I could possibly have said under the circumstances: “FUCK YOU.”

So it would seem that I am too controlling, abusive, neglectful, and not controlling enough. And that does not cover everyone else in the post office, who did not say anything but whose faces clearly conveyed abject horror.

Today would have been a really nice day for someone (by which I mean someone in person) to be kind to me about my parenting. Instead I had it reinforced by the masses that I suck.

Here’s a tip for everyone: if you see a mother (or father, for that matter) with a child who is throwing a tantrum in public, don’t do anything or say anything unless she is actively harming the child (and then, you should call the police–interfering could escalate it). SHE IS WORSE OFF THAN YOU. She is embarrassed. She is having enough trouble. The screaming is louder where she is. SHE KNOWS HER CHILD BETTER THAN YOU DO. Just keep your fucking mouth shut.

The kicker to the story is that our walk ended when Sammy decided he was tired of pushing his basket and asked me to carry it in the stroller. Really and truly.

People are making it way too easy to feel superior.

Today, in the laundry room.

I am removing clothes from the dryer (I got started too late in the day to hang dry anything, which annoys me). Sam is running around the room picking up other tenants’ discarded (used) dryer sheets and putting them into the trash can. This is totally unprompted and I swell with pride.

A neighbor–a tall man, mid-twenties–is moving his clothes from a washer to a dryer. He pulls the lint catcher from the dryer to clean it, walks directly past the trash can, and bangs the lint off into the utility sink.

In shock: “Dude! There’s a trash can right there.”

He mumbles “Sorry” but doesn’t do anything to make it right.

I fold my clothing. Sam has cleaned the floor. (I don’t know how many dryer sheets he picked up but I can tell you that several weeks ago I picked up forty sheets and threw them away only to find sixteen new ones by the time my laundry was done.)

I pick him up and, unable to stop myself, bring him over to the sink. “This is someone’s trash where it doesn’t belong,” I tell him. Loud enough for the litterer to hear me. I pick it up–it is nasty from being in the sink–and carry it to the trash. Then we collect our laundry and leave.

Again unable to stop myself, I yell “You’re welcome!” over my shoulder. No response. Asshole.