A Sort Of Update

HEY GUYS.

I promised I’d be back. And I even updated my other blog. 

The short story is that I missed blogging. The longer story is that I started feeling unsure of what to write about.  Apollo is always a good source of writing fodder, but I fear turning into the blogger I dread – the blogger who can’t stop blogging about her cute baby/dog/cat when no one else cares.

But I feel ready to write again, and to share stories.  I like being somewhat private so I’ll avoid blogging about the more boring details of my personal life, but I feel keen to share misadventures, music, fashion, and essentially awesome beauty items.  I’ve started subscribing to Ipsy Glam Bags and will be getting my first bag tomorrow (hopefully), so I’ll be doing a review here soon!

To give you a brief update of what I’ve been up to in the past month or so:

  • Workworkworkworkworkworkwork
  • Puppy training classes.  After Apollo chewed half a bow off one of my adorable new flats I bought from Target, it was GAME OVER.  He’s doing really well with the classes and I note a huge improvement. He’s graduating on Wednesday (squeeee), so I’m sure I’ll post a picture of the cuteness.
  • I went to my first bachelorette party two weeks ago. I missed the memo that you’resupposed to bring lingerie as your gift (dur, self).  My dad offered to drop me off but I declined because I figured it would be awkward to be driven to your first bachelorette party by any male member of your family. He let me borrow his truck, which led to much nervousness as I drove it.  I ended up having a lot of fun (and there were no strippers, thankfully.  It was a classy affair.)
  • I had to rush Apollo to the vet two weeks ago after some god-awful screaming. He had strained his paw, I think from jumping off the couch (I wasn’t in the room when it happened, but had just heard the horrible screaming).  I never want to hear that screaming again, it was awful.  I think at one point we were both screaming because I was like, “NO NO NO NO!” in despair.  Poor puppy. He’s fine, though. He was back to jumping on the couch immediately after we returned home from the vet (sigh…)
  • On Friday, a two-hour car drive turned into four and a half thanks to a nasty storm that passed through.  That was the worst driving experience I’ve had yet.  At least when I got stuck in a tropical storm three years ago, the experience was over in fifteen minutes.  There was a lot of water on the road and I pulled over several times to let the storm pass, since apparently I was traveling with it. I ultimately decided to keep going after my de facto weatherman told me that the storms had passed over the route I was taking and wouldn’t be severe anymore. I was never so happy to get out of that car.  “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” came on the radio when I reached my destination – I took it as a note of TRIUMPH.

I leave you with a song I’ve been obsessed with. Something tells me that I should consider this song a guilty pleasure, but I don’t CARE because it’s catchy as FUCK and I LOVE IT.

My Trip Was a Total Driving Clusterfuck

For someone who used to hate driving, I sure do a lot of it.  Living in Texas is partially to blame.  If you want to get from one big city to another, get ready to drive for at least two hours.

Driving used to be a major source of anxiety for me.  There was a time when I wouldn’t drive anywhere outside of a radius I was comfortable with.  Any driving outside of my comfort zone would cause major stress and worry for me and I simply avoided it as much as possible. As recently as three years ago, I would even miss out on social opportunities because of my driving fears. By the way, “outside of my comfort zone” encapsulated everything, at one point – freeways, highways, bridges, driving at night, parking, driving downtown, driving in a big city, driving to a new place, rural roads, hills, toll roads, larger vehicles, heavy traffic, parking garages.

I’m fairly proud of the fact that I’ve conquered all the fears I listed above (except parking garages.  I will never, ever like parking garages, and I’m okay with that).  Driving somewhere rarely causes anxiety for me anymore, just because I do it all the time.  And I have my job to thank for that, mostly, because I had no choice but to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Don’t want to drive to a new place, or on a toll road, or in a big city like Houston?  Too bad, because you have a field job that you requires you to do all three, so suck it up, Jenny!

And usually, once I drove to a place I had feared so much, I would think, “…why did I spend thirty minutes Google mapping this route obsessively?  This was easy.”

But every once in awhile, I’ll have a driving day that reminds me of why I used to be so afraid of it.  And today? Definitely one of those days.

Today I was driving an rented SUV.  I’m not used to driving SUVs, so I found myself more nervous than usual about the trip.  The trip should have been fairly easy; I had followed a coworker on the route before.  It is tricky in one place because it required a toll road route that was so new, not even Google Maps had it on their route.  I was a little anxious that I’d get lost.

Despite my initial worries, the trip started off well.  I grew accustomed to the SUV and its blind spots and successfully merged on to a toll road I had once avoided for years.  I was just settling into the trip when I drove into a heavy patch of fog.  I’m talking the kind of fog where you only see feet in front of you. I felt like I was driving into a narrow, foggy tunnel.

Off to my right, the exit sign for the toll road interchange suddenly appeared out of the fog.  I panicked. How was I going to see where I was going on the interchange?  What about merging onto the new toll road? The speed limit on that road is ridiculously high; would anybody see me merge?

I panicked and pulled over, hoping the fog would lift as I watched several near-accidents unfold before my eyes as I witnessed drivers cutting each other off in the heavy fog.

The fog didn’t lift.

Fifteen minutes later, after a truck was started to edge onto the shoulder where I’d parked, I decided that the fog was not going to lift and I wasn’t doing myself any good by just sitting here.  I made sure I merged back onto the highway carefully (why do so many people drive in the fog without lights?!) and took my exit.

The exit was not as bad as I’d thought; I was still able to see where I was going.  But it was creepy to see the overpass support structures and shopping centers pop out nowhere as I drove through the fog.  I merged on the next toll road and only felt comfortable driving at 50 miles per hour, which happens to be THIRTY MILES below the speed limit.

Everyone else around me zipped by me as I gripped my steering wheel and called them maniacs.

The fog did not lift for another hour and a half, by the way, so that was fun.  I noted several cars pulled over, which made me feel better; the fog was scaring more people than just me.

The fun did not end there.  Once I was on a smaller highway, construction stopped us and forced traffic down to one lane; i.e., one direction of traffic would have to stop and wait while the other direction of traffic was allowed to pass through that one lane.

I guess a traffic guard took his lunch break early, or something, because as I was driving (I was leading the other cars, by the way), I could see a whole line of cars driving head-on towards me IN MY LANE.  Luckily they were not driving fast, but still. I pulled over and the others behind me followed suit.  We waited about ten minutes for the opposite flow of traffic to pass.  Once they’d passed, I was worried about going in case another stream of cars were coming.  Cue a semi honking at me.  After checking to make sure I was safe, I started driving.

And the fun doesn’t stop there!

The last straw occurred when a van towing a vehicle let the car in front of me pass.  He moved over onto the shoulder and the car passed without a problem.  Even though my instinct told me I should stay put, I thought, “Oh, he let that guy pass, he’ll let me pass too since I was right behind the other car.” Since the van didn’t immediately get back into the lane after letting the car pass, I decided that this was an invitation to let me pass, too.

I started passing, but for whatever reason, the van started encroaching back into the lane. I couldn’t slow down now.  I quickly passed the van with my vehicle halfway in both lanes, my lane and the lane of oncoming traffic (which definitely had ONCOMING TRAFFIC in it).  I pulled in front of the van; conveniently, I pulled in just as the traffic in front of me started slowing down, which meant I had to hit the brakes with the van closely behind me.

You can say that when I finally reached my destination, my nerves were certainly on edge.

Most of my trips, thankfully, haven’t been this action-packed.  I am grateful that most are uneventful and that I complain later how boring they were.  But I feel like some trips are designed to keep your driving skills in check and remind you not to take driving for granted, even when you do it all the time.

Stalking is Not a Good Business Strategy

This weekend, I was driving through parking lot. I had an important mission ahead of me – procure and eat Vietnamese food.

I was driving past a pickup truck in a parking lot when one of the men in the passenger seat rolled down the window and motioned for me to do the same. I nervously drove past him.  Even though I had Boyfriend sitting next to me, I have learned not to roll down windows when strangers ask.  Besides, there were plenty of cars behind me; if there was an emergency, the men in the truck had other resources besides me.

I drove farther down the parking lot and settled on a spot outside of the Vietnamese restaurant.  As I unlatched my seat belt, I noticed the pickup truck slowly pulling up beside me.  “Did they follow us?” I asked incredulously as the driver rolled down his window.

Boyfriend calmly recommended that I move to another spot.  As we both gave the truck occupants annoyed looks, I noted a sign on the truck that immediately escalated my irritation into anger.

Pop-a-Dent, it said. And suddenly, it all made sense.

It’s important that I tell you all that both sides of my truck are dented from two separate parking garage incidents (basically, my spacial perception sucks and I scraped my truck against columns). And by “dented,” I mean very noticeable large dents.  The paint job around each side had been damaged by the incidents.

The truck has gotten more questions than my constant change of hair color has.  Many times, I’ve had to force a smile on my face as a well-meaning coworker asks, “…what happened to your truck?” I get tired of explaining it.  While I can make fun of myself about it and laugh it off, I understandably get irritated after getting teased about it all the time.  Several years ago, when I was in an HEB parking lot, a man walked up to me, handing me a business card. It was for a body shop.

For some reason, that incident didn’t irk me as much as a truck following me around, desperate for my business.  Did you not get the hint the first time I ignored your request? I looked up the business on Yelp (obviously, I changed its name), and it received horrible reviews.  Typical.  If you have to resort to stalking women in a parking lot for business, I’m going to venture a guess and say that it wasn’t so hot to begin with.

Tired

I’m tired but, in typical fashion, I do not want to sleep. My body resists sleep as much as it can. I always feel like I’m missing out on something important.

It has been and will be a long week. I’ve completed day 3 of a 7 day field shift that consists of nothing other than driving for a straight 9-10 hours.  After my field shift is completed, I head to the office for several more hours to work on a report that is due Friday.   I’ve already logged over 40 hours of work this week alone.

I am not complaining.  The driving gets to me though.  It is not hard work, but it’s mentally exhausting.  I do not get a weekend, but I’m taking next Tuesday off.

I kind of need a hug.

An Open Letter to All Drivers

If I am already driving 5 mph over the speed limit and you are behind me, tailgating me and throwing your arms around and otherwise acting like an exasperated bitch, I will go slower.

I won’t brake.  I’ll just ease off the accelerator, and if we happen to come to a stop sign, I will sloooowly advance, look back and forth four to five times, and then roll away like molasses.

Seriously. Try it next time.  I don’t care if you’re late.  There are people who speed up under the pressure of an aggressive driver, and I am not one of them.

Driving Through Houston

I have found that the older I get, the more my general self-confidence improves.  I don’t think I can do anything, but I find myself getting less anxiety about new situations than I used to.  I went from thinking, “OH GOD, THERE’S NO WAY I CAN DO THIS EVER” to, “Okay, I may fuck this up, but everything is going to be fine in the end.”

I think I have alluded to my past driving anxiety on here before. It used to be bad.  I hated driving at night, would not drive on freeways or highways at night, and would freak out before going to a new place.  This really hindered me when I first moved to the city I live in now, and for a long time I didn’t have a great feel for the city.  My driving confidence improved as I started driving more and putting myself out of my comfort zone, and now it really isn’t a big deal.

Every once in awhile, I find myself in driving situations that would have freaked me out several years ago.  I was returning from a field job today, and our route takes us through Houston.  I’ve never driven in Houston; I’ve driven in some of the suburbs, like Katy, but never in Houston proper.  Back when driving terrified me, I told myself I would never drive in Dallas or Houston. I’ve already driven in Dallas and it was not a big deal.  But driving in Houston just hasn’t happened yet.

My coworker had been planning on having me drive after getting out of Houston, which was fine to me; I didn’t particularly want to drive through it (I don’t think anyone does). But when we were a couple miles east of downtown, she pulled into a gas station and said, “Jen, do you feel okay going through Houston?”  “Yeah,” I said, switching seats with her.

I’m not going to lie; I was a little nervous, just because I know how aggressive and notorious Houston drivers are.  But I also felt a confidence I would not have felt several years ago.  Instead of thinking, “OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” I thought, “Yeah, this is not going to be a big deal.” In fact, I was actually relieved I was going to be able to drive through Houston, just so I can say that I’ve done it.

So I got on I-10. I had a lovely view of downtown:

Don’t worry, I took that picture a couple of years back when I took a charter bus to NASA. I wasn’t snapping photos while driving or anything.

And there was a lovely song playing on Alt Nation while I drove through the city:

And the drive was fine. I will say that switching from 610 to 290 was a bit hairy because no one wants to let you in, and I had to cross like four or five lanes of traffic in thirty seconds, but it wasn’t a big deal.

It’s always nice to have these experiences and think back to when you used to be afraid of moments like these.  What had I been so afraid of?

 

Attempting Serenity in Driving

This morning, I was driving along I-35; it’s a generally miserable highway to be driving on, but I had no choice.  It was dark and there was traffic (surprise, surprise).  As we slowed to a stop, I saw a white truck whip out of a lane as if it were on fire.  Then, all he sped back into the same lane, right directly in front of  the car who had previously been in front of him.

I thought it was an odd move – why go through so much trouble getting out of a lane, in traffic, only to get right in front of one car?  As I drove by him, I looked into his vehicle.  Even in the dark, I could see him angrily talking to himself, slamming his hands down on his steering wheel in frustration, his face contorted in rage.

I thought – I don’t want to be that driver.

But I have been. We all have. Maybe he was late to the airport and was going to miss his flight.  Maybe he was late to work and his boss had threatened him to show up on time.  Whatever the reason, it’s easy to drive by and judge him for his apparent stupidity in driving; but it’s also easy to forget that we’ve all felt that blatant frustration explode with the slightest move another driver makes.

I’m making this post because recently, I’ve had to do a lot of driving with my job.  I have the tendency to be overly critical and frustrated at every single driver, especially in monstrous traffic.  So I’ve been trying an experiment.  Instead of saying, “GET OFF MY BUMPER, ASSHOLE!” to every person that tail gates me, I just try to avoid looking into my rear view mirror.  If someone takes the spot in a lane that I wanted, I just shrug it off and try not to assume that this person is a failure to his family and society.

And you know what? I feel a lot happier.  On Monday, I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day, and yet I was still able to smile as I drove into the city, even with the stressful traffic.  I’m not saying that every day will be stress-free, but attempting to maintain a positive attitude, even while driving through traffic, works wonders.

I hope that the man in the white truck realizes this too.