Friday, May 22, 2009

A day in the life (someday)

I wake up at 8 a.m., well-rested after a good night’s sleep. I put on my slippers, plod out to the kitchen and warm up the pan on the stove, preparing my customary egg breakfast. While it’s cooking, I feed the pets, tidy up from the night before and get ready to start my day.

I eat my breakfast of eggs (with spinach and cheese this morning) at the kitchen table in front of the sun-filled windows. I read the local paper, spending the most time on local news, the comics, and letters to the editor. I also fiddle around with the Sudoku puzzle and half-heartedly attempt the Jumble before I get moving on to more important things.

After breakfast, I hop into the shower, dress, and boot up my computer. It’s a slow-beast of a thing, so while the computer is waking up from a night off, I gather my research materials and prepare myself for a day’s work. I’m halfway through a book about party planning that I am reviewing for the Examiner. Maybe I’ll read another chapter today and make a few more notes for my review. I also have a stack of research on contracts, which is serving as the basis for both my 20-page final project at Northeastern University and an upcoming Examiner series. The last two stacks include materials that cover some teen health information for my gig as a teen advice expert and a pile of multi-colored Post-its with column ideas for Inner Thoughts and Outbursts.

I start with an article for a wedding blog about what to wear to a summer wedding. When it’s completed, I read a few chapters of the party planning book, make some cursory notes on the pages sticking out of my contracts research, and take a break to start some laundry. I hate doing laundry – the sorting of whites and lights and darks and delicates – but it’s a necessary chore and a good, quick break to clear my head of the cobwebs that get in the way of concise writing.

Downstairs in the basement, I throw in a load of towels and am temporarily distracted by my crafting supplies. Hmmm… I think. I wonder if I’ll have time to work on some scrapbooking today? Maybe make some cards… I’m often momentarily distracted by the hobbies I love but don’t have time for. I’m happy, however, to be working from home, so I trudge back upstairs and write for another hour.

At half-past noon I take a break for lunch. I bake a piece of trout with some asparagus and eat it in front of the television, alternating between the mid-day news and shows on TLC. The decorating, makeover, and medical mystery shows that cycle on the channel are enough to distract me from the formulaic and alarmist news that I can only stomach in short bursts, so I don’t mind my guilty pleasure of eating in front of the TV.

Feeling relaxed after my TLC-fix I pile my dishes into the dishwasher and head back to my desk to write for an hour. It’s just enough time to let my stomach settle before I go to the gym. It’s about a five minute drive and I feel guilty driving instead of walking, but I’d have to cross a six-lane highway – something that doesn’t seem like an incredibly good idea. Instead, I drive, park, and spend an hour or so kicking my own butt with the free weights and a treadmill. Some days my trainer meets me here, but he’s usually here later in the evening and I like the way the gym is half-empty at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I don’t feel like such a spectacle when I lunge across the gym floor mid-day as when the gym is packed at 6 p.m. and I feel like all eyes are on me.

The gym break is good for my body and good for my mind. I get back to work and spend the rest of the afternoon compiling research, reading all the online news I can handle, paying bills, and responding to e-mails and phone calls. I wrap things up for the most part, but know that I’ll be poking around with a particularly tough-to-write article later tonight.

Once my boyfriend gets home from work we have dinner, go for a walk around the neighborhood and settle into our evenings. He putters around in the garden, watering bushes, picking tomatoes, and pulling stray weeds. I sneak down to my neglected craft table and work on a few scrapbook pages. I keep the TV on in the background, a crime show soundtrack keeping me company.

That night, content from a productive day, I cuddle up in my bed with my laptop and chat with friends online. I do poke around the tough-to-write article for a few moments, but leave it for the morning when I have fresh ideas and inspiration. Then, computer off, I snuggle in with a Lisa Scottoline novel and read a few chapters before setting my alarm to get up and do everything all over again the next day.

Life is good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Car Karma?

Earlier this week I had a routine physical at my doctor's office. I drove from work, parked my car in the lot, and spent an hour in the medical center. After my appointment I got back in my car, turned the key in the ignition, and... nothing.

I tried again. A faint buzzing sound, but no engine running. I fiddled with the ignition, the gears, and all important-looking buttons, to no avail. My car was good and dead.

I popped the hood, took a cursory look around and called AAA. They promised to send someone within the hour, so I hung up and poked around under the hood some more, not doing much other than enjoying the sunshine and lamenting my dead car.

All the while, people came and went from the medical center. Mothers with their school age children, elderly couples, college students -- they all traipsed about the parking lot on their way in and out of the doctors' offices, without more than a sideways glance at me. There I was, alone with the hood of my car propped up, and those people never bothered to give me a second glance or ask if I was alright. Finally, after about a half an hour, a woman my own age saw me from the far end of the parking lot, drove over to my car, and asked if I was alright. I explained that the car had died and I had called AAA, but that I really appreciated her stopping to check on me. We chatted for a moment, she wished me luck, and then she was off.

Right after the woman's kindness, a man had the gall to drive up in his SUV and park in the space I had been trying to save for the AAA truck. He ignored the space on the other side of the one I was unsuccessfully saving, and barged right in, hopping out of his car without a single word to me. Later, when the tow truck appeared (and awkwardly maneuved around the parking lot), Mister SUV gave me a pompous look and hopped into the gas-guzzler with two rosaries hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Samaritans aside, AAA tried to jump my battery and, when that didn't work, readied my car for towing to my mechanic's shop. I did have a bout of good luck when a woman I know popped out of the medical center and offered me a ride home. I gratefully acceptable and thanked her profusely.

I hear stories about how you can never be too careful these days; you don't pick up hitchhikers and you don't stop for strangers. But at 3 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon in a wide-open medical center parking lot, was it too much to ask that someone stop and see if I was okay? Did I maybe need to borrow a cellphone or could someone jump my car for me? Did the women with elementary schoolers have to explain to her children why my hood was open and she did nothing? Did the man with the rosaries go to mass the next day with a clear conscience? Did the father of a newly-licensed teenage girl tell her never to assist broken-down motorists? I am truly surprised that people were so callous.

I am grateful to the woman who stopped to check on me, the kind AAA folks, and the woman who eventually gave me a ride home, but I'm still puzzled that no one else bothered to say anything. I also wonder what I would have done in the same situation. I can only hope that I would have at least asked if the motorist was okay, and maybe offered my cell phone. I'm an advocate of personal safety, but not personal oblivion. When we ignore our fellow man and possibly lie to our children about it, we're doing a disservice to ourselves and our communities. I don't want to live in a place where you can't ask a twentysomething woman in a bright, suburban parking lot if her car is alright when its hood is up and she looks puzzled.

I hope to make conscious decisions to assist those in need of assistance whenever possible, and I hope that Friday's incident in the parking lot was an anomaly, not the norm. Here's to appreciating the good-hearted women who stopped for me and to hoping that those who ignored me will have second thoughts next time around rather than suffer from bad car karma.