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Posts Tagged ‘Commuting’

Jetsam, as in “flotsam & jetsam.”

Emphasis on the Jetsam today after an adrenaline-filled day at work.

It is nice to have keys in a lockup facility, and even better to have double plexiglass between you and one threatening your life. I have mastered the art of not blinking, not skipping a beat and having a therapeutically-appropriate comeback when the fist flies in your face and the glass saves you.

Thank you, dear friends, for allowing me to express myself in appropriate ways, even if it makes no photographic, literary or cohesive sense. And the children thank you…

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Today’s drive in to work – check out the wispy, arched clouds above the reflection at low tide. This is the prelude to a forthcoming tropical system.
My commute is MY therapy.
It is my last freedom.

 

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The drive home…never a dull moment. What was going on in the back of this van?

 

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We weren’t able to gig any sting rays at the beach last weekend, but, hey – we got this mess-o-clams for chowder! The variety of colors and patterns was astonishing when we put them all in a pot to boil.

 

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It’s August in the South.
It’s HOT. And HUMID.
Yes, our air is working, but still…sometimes you just wake up and need a little breeze.
Well, c’mon now, would you bother to sit up and pull the cord if your foot could do it easier while affording you the luxury of remaining reclined?
Who out there, without disability, never uses their toes to help out occasionally?
No, I am not part-ape.
Just creative.
And a little sleepy-lazy on hot nights.

 

 

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It’s been that kind of week where I had to snatch bits and pieces of self-nurturing wherever possible in order to stay both energized and relaxed, simultaneously.

One of those bits means commuting with the windows down, flying top speed across the waters and giving action to my favorite songs, at top volume. I will take you for another ride –

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I could give a rat’s arse if I wind up with a rat’s nest after this commute.

I love watching the progress of the construction of our military’s next Littoral combat ship. They always leave their barn door open so we can see how she’s coming along:

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This baby takes a LONG time to build…nice to see it looking almost ship-like at this point.

The tunnel, like being in my darkest state of mind…trapped, confined, constricted, hard to breathe, stuck, riddled with despair – even though I’m snug and comfy inside my familiar vehicle of choice; railroaded into moving forward, no end in sight (trust I must):

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Flying through the wormhole

The coolest cloud formations happen this time of year:

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I could watch these all day!

And, yes, the clouds yield plenty of sub-tropical downpour, too:

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Get the hazards on for the low-speed interstate crawl!

A glimpse of that distant ship is always comfort – and just a quick gander, lest I lose all control and my car decides, against my better judgment, to jump in and swim after that elusive ship anyway-

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Personally, I think the askance horizon lends itself to the sensory experience one has at sea, all lined-up-horizon photography tips aside.

I think I’ll sleep with the windows open tonight and fall asleep to distant thunder in between the waves.

Thanks, God,  for windows of all sorts – windows of escape, windows of opportunity, windows to the soul. And for the thrill of flying hair and Your freedom through all of them.

(And readers, please forgive this hot mess o’ blurry, grainy pictures – it’s the theme, really. Besides, aren’t commutes kind of a grainy blur?)

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Today on my morning commute I was reminded of a song that I’d forgotten. I’d never actually heard it; someone once had mentioned it in passing and I dismissed it after hearing the first lines and decided I wasn’t interested.

Maybe it was the heart-wrenching history I learned today about little child I met – fire-setting, animal abuse, you name it. Maybe it was the upheaval of my hospital unit being moved last week from its decade-long location to a new unit, far away from the rest of our program – upheaval at its best. Or maybe it was my mother dragging me back into the church of my upbringing over the past two weeks.

But the reference today likened something edgy to a Lucinda Williams video.

Lucinda it was, and it prompted me to go back and reexamine that which I had discarded. Mental dumpster-diving, if you will:

(credit: Lucinda Williams’ “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”):

Sittin in the kitcken a house in Macon
Loretta’s singing on the radio
Smell of coffee eggs and bacon
Car wheels on a gravel road
Pull the curtains back and look outside
Somebody somehere I don’t know
Come on now child we’re gonna go for a ride
Car wheels on a gravel road
Can’t find a damn thing in this place
Nothing’s where I left it before
Set of keys and a dusty suitcase
Car wheels on a gravel road
There goes the screen door slamming shut
You better do what you’re told
When I get back this room better be picked-up
Car wheels on a gravel road
Low hum of voices in the front seat
Stories nobody knows
Got folks in Jackson we’re going to meet
Car wheels on a gravel road
Cotton fields stretching miles and miles
Hank’s voice on the radio
Telephone poles trees and wires fly on by
Car wheels on a gravel road
Broken down shacks engine parts
Could tell a lie but my heart would know
Listen to the dogs barkin in the yard
Car wheels on a gravel road
Child in the backseat about four or five years
Lookin out the window
Little bit of dirt mixed with tears
Car wheels on a gravel road

So, the tune itself doesn’t do much for me, which is why I dismissed it so easily the first time, and which is why I am not embedding the video. But looking at the lyrics, it sparked my mind.

How many of us have been uprooted, either physically or mentally, in early childhood? Or gotten that worldly come-uppin’ that only our parents could have provided by uprooting us?

Were you uprooted physically, as your parents chased their dream to have a better life than your grandparents?

Were you uprooted mentally and emotionally, as you came of age and discovered that there was a harsh reality to all you’ve known and taken as truth?

Found out that there is fakery both for protection and exploitation, and it’s ultimately up to you to discern the difference?

Found out that the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause were one and the same?

Did your mom leave your dad? Or your dad leave your mom, or a mutual parting regardless? Or remain together in wedded torment instead of bliss?

What fissures developed in your world that contributed to your inner continental drifting?

At some point our innocence was abducted by some grounding event.

And not that it is an event that is evil – it is simply the moment we cash in our ignorant bliss for the intriguing dismay of the reality of the human condition.

Kind of like the day my older bothers brothers forced me to admit my two imaginary BFFs did not exist.

Yet, how necessary is this in order to acknowledge that there just might be something Bigger, Better and Stronger than all our toil and sin?

There’s something comforting in a little bit of dirt mixed with tears.

It would make me nervous, otherwise.

Thanks, Lucinda, for accurately portraying the very first moments we first experience the sensation of anxiety, aware yet unaware – accepting yet unaccepting. Jostled from our nest of knowing, into that first breath of utter dependence on God and the unknown.

And thanks, God, for taking our anxiety and providing proper closure and resolution for it – that our parents, our life, our course may drag us down the aisle kicking and screaming into the unknown, yet You make it all okay in the end.

(The Lord be with you…and also with y’all.)

And thanks, God,  for letting me keep my imaginary BFFs, too. 😀

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Many dear friends here know that I spend about two hours commuting on any given workaday. Much of it is dreamlike, flying over expanses of cerulean waters capped with tangerine skies, with other-worldly cloud formations.

Sucky photo which doesn’t do justice to the thunderhead yesterday, but captures a typical artistic distraction during my flight:

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I often drive with my middle finger (not what you think! click the darn link!), do my best thinking and reverie-ing, and enjoy some of the most pleasant moments of my life. Mysterious and distant cargo ships, playful dolphins and close calls with dive-bombing pelicans are not uncommon.

Sure, the usual hazards of commuting present themselves on a daily basis – outdated traffic reports that land me in a veritable parking lot on a bridge with no way out, the idiots who tailgate at 80 mph or use the “2 car-length” rule as an opportunity to dart in front of me causing a mile-long trail of brake lights.

And don’t forget the uncovered dump trucks which spew windshield-knickers, Bubba in his pick-me-up-truck who didn’t bother to toss the trash before he attained higher speeds and the morons who bumble along in the left lane going 50 who fail to observe the “slower traffic keep right” flashing signs all across the loooong bridge.

These things don’t make me flinch anymore, nosirree Bob. I know I’m supposed to be watching the road, but as a writer/photographer, this gem from this morning is the type of road hazard which most gets my grammatical goat and induces editorial road rage:

Commute from Hell

Dear God, may Jesus be Lord also of proper spelling and editing…

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Glimpse

A day in my life.

High speed.

Mystery ship on the horizon.

Destined, different journeys.

Majestic heavens, compliments of God.

Rat race of the city behind me in the mirror.

Never quite at my destination.

Skid marks on the protective barriers.

Last week a lady careened over the this barrier and plummeted into the water, car and all. Authorities defended the barriers, saying they were designed to correct drivers by bringing them gently back into their lane, but could not protect against excessive speed.

Perhaps she was trying to snap a picture to savor the glimpse…

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Blanket of clouds…every day around 4pm, subtropical downpour brewing:

30 mph on the interstate – woo hoo! Wipers on fast & still can’t see…but, free car wash:

Cotton eye candy…All clear!

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Ugh.

Yesterday, I surreptitiously became one of “them.”

I always swore I wouldn’t, but I did. I didn’t see it coming. But now I know how perfectly good and decent ladies turn down the dark and heinous path of crime, the crime of Makeup Application in Public, an etiquette Class 2 Misdemeanor. It sure as heck wasn’t an upper class misdemeanor, this I know. But I do know what I’ve always thought of “those women” whom I’ve observed doing “that.” Not my cup of tea, dear. Why, I nevuh!

It started quite innocently with a busy week, a healthy dose of preoccupation and five consecutive nights with less than six hours’ sleep. I should have seen the warning signs. There were actually only two signs (forgetting to charge my iPod and having it go dead on me at the bottom of the steepest hill I had yet to climb in 105 heat index – that, and on another day forgetting my jewelry and winding up at the office feeling utterly naked)…but I shoulda known this one was coming.

I will forgo all the excuses I am convinced are perfectly legitimate, like working late Thursday night followed by a mess ‘o hot sex libidinous diversion (how else can I tone that down?) which kept me up even later, restless sleep, toddler interruptus at 0330 and then having to arise extra-early to start my commute at 0630 instead of the usual 0700.

I was on top of the world making it work anyway and ejecting out the door precisely on time, with that nagging feeling I was forgetting something. Keys, check – phone, check – coffee, check – nourishment, check – iPod, check – earrings by gosh, check. Love ya, bye!

About 15 minutes into the commute, I caught a glance in the mirror as I went to bypass the usual left-lane-creepers who don’t know to move it on over. There I was, in all my plain-Jane glory, without makeup – and no way, no time to turn back. I would have to face the world with, um, just my face. Hoo-wah!

The next 5 minutes were devoted to the most wasteful of mental debates. Will anyone notice? Will they tell me what they told my coworker the other day when she forgot hers, how tired she looked? Yah, not enough sleep – no way to hide. Who cares, really? Dare I? Yes! So onward I steered, fearing naught and ready to take on the world, sans makeup. Done it before, often at home, just not left the house like that in awhile. It’s probably more for my sanity, anyway, than for others’.

I dedicated not one more thought to it until I found myself in the right turn lane headed into a store – what’s this?! I never stop on my commute. My alter-ego had grabbed the wheel and took over without my permission, better judgment and common sense combined. Before I knew it, I was at the checkout with brand new items of my favorite makeup, recklessly risking running late.

The rest of me was perched up in the rafters of the store peering down at the woman at the checkout, having an out-of-body experience.

That was not me, I swear. That was some Other Woman.

I would never do such a thing – I mean, how totally stupid and vain. How futilely silly! Gadzooks, it’s just one day.

This other woman at the checkout proceeded to the car where she drove off in my car, steering with one hand, using her other hand in cahoots with her teeth to open the new packages.

A short time later, this other woman came to an abrupt halt at the World’s Longest Traffic Light, and lickety-split fast as lightning, this bubbleheaded-other woman flipped down the visor and opened the mirror and went to work in methodical order, as though she were in the privacy of her own mirror at home.  (*POOF*) Fellow commuters simply did not exist. Lalalalala, can’t see meeee!

(Step aside, ladies of the night, here comes the Hussy of the Highway!)

Packed it up right quick, stored it in her purse and returned the visor to its rightful position in the blinding morning sun as though nothing had happened, and suddenly that other woman was drifting in spirit over to the other cars to see what the Joneses were up to – sure enough, one other car contained a hair salon event in progress, in another was some intense texting and yet another was too into his chicken-fried steak biscuit to notice the light turned green. Nobody raised stones to stone her. Geez, no one seemed to notice.

And off I went.

Later that day while digging for my phone, I was perplexed to discover a brand new eyeliner in the bottom of my purse.

How’d that get there?

Wow, that’s great, I thought…I was just about to run out at home! Great timing…I usually run out before I’ve purchased a new one, leaving me limping along and making do and engaging in a mad-dash to the drug store on my lunch hour and paying too much for my lack of planning and patience.

I got caught up in traffic and my mind wandered away somewhere into a song I once knew, forgetting about my alter-angel.

That night I was awoken by distant thunder, a comforting rumble approaching along the water. I suddenly remembered the Other Woman and how she commandeered my psyche, and where I was lacking, she filled a need – a need I never in my right mind would have ever condoned. She did something nice, fleeting but terribly off-course, and then it was gone. But the nice lingered like magic dust catching my eye like a little sparkle here and there, like the stars in the sky you can only see more clearly when you don’t look directly at them.

She had disappeared into the traffic of the daily buzz of life, and I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again, or if she’d ever veer me off-track and catch me unawares. I wanted to thank her for taking that short moment of time to do something so simple that really wasn’t a necessity, but it made everything so much more, well, everything. I didn’t get to, and now she’s gone. But I’ve got a nice new supply of makeup out of the deal so I can keep my game face on, and carry on, as though I was never lacking.

Thanks, God, for life’s little detours and for making our brains have the capacity for dual operations when needed, so between You and us and the unknown, we are made whole. Thanks for teaching us to withhold judgment until we’ve walked all paths. And thanks for the extra makeup I can now keep in my desk at work (next to the spare pair of earrings) in case I ever have another moment like this week’s. Oh, yeah, and help me to go my way and misdemeanor no more.

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No, not that……

This:

Please don’t read between any lines on this one, friends – just a funny thought from this week as my mind wanders through the miles and time.

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If I ever die commuting, I will die so happy,

thanking God for the sights I get to see on my commute:

Bottlenose Dolphin Feeding Near Pier

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In the spirit of our fellow blogger Brainrants, I momentarily shed all manner of female Southern décorum to address the issue of driving:

1.) I had the misfortune – or blessing – of learning to drive in the nation’s 2nd largest city. Drive or get the hell out of my way.

2.) My very first driving lessons took place in a cemetery. “You can’t hurt anyone, they’re already dead,” I was assured. I may subliminally assume those around me on the road today are also dead (even zombies, the way some of y’all drive), unless you get my attention by trumping my driving skills.

3.) I knew nothing but manual transmissions until fairly recently – therefore, driving, to me, is an active sport, (note to texters and makeup appliers:) not a passive or secondary activity. Pull over, ya lackluster lollygaggers.

4.) I leave in plenty of time to get to my destination. It is you who is making me late. Likely causes of tardiness are typically due to the left lane-hog who believes it is their right to occupy the left lane at a speed equivalent to or slower than the speed-reverent driver in the right lane. On the west coast these scofflaws typically sport a Washington state plate. Elsewhere it is usually someone with a handicapped plate white-knuckling the wheel for dear life at gosh-awful speeds of 35 or below. I am not discriminating: I also have handicap designation on my car, too…but I do not drive with such overcompensating caution that I cause an accident by going too slowly or blocking lanes. At least go the limit, folks, or yield to those who do. Or surrender your license if you can’t handle the basics. You are not teaching anyone a lesson by forcing them into co-bumbling on the road. You are inviting road rage and use of impulsively creative sign language.

5.) I will cheerfully block you in the handicapped parking space by double parking or worse if you are parked there illegally just to “run in real quick.” I will wait for you to come out of the store to behold your dilemma, while I herd my handicapped child back in the car and sweetly say, “Oh, here they come, dear…we won’t have to wait now. Is your tummy still hurting? We’ll wait for the nice lady to give us ‘her’ space.”  I will pause and linger and savor every moment of your discomfort as you avoid eye contact with me and my disabled child. This topic probably deserves its own post.

6.) If I am not driving the cumbersome family tank and am in my sleek little commuter car, you better bet your bottom dollar I will zip into the nearest parking spot. When I lived north of the Mason-Dixon line (bless my heart!), I would have visually broadcast my victoriously smug gloating, as is customary. Here in the South, I will feign appropriate mea culpa and delicately cup my hand to my mouth and gesture for you to take the space as an afterthought, knowing full well it’s MINE. Then we’ll strike up a friendly conversation at the deli counter and I’ll let you go first. Then I’ll beat you to the checkout.

7.) Curses to you who pull out into oncoming traffic. You know who you are. Worse are the offenders who pull out into oncoming traffic, then slow to a grinding halt while you turn into the very next driveway. You make me want to tie you to the top of my car like a newly-cut Christmas tree and take you for a loooooong ride. With lots of sharp curves. You people should have your licenses revoked, honestly.

8.) Please do not slow to 25 mph as you approach an interstate exit (“freeway,” for our west coast friends who insist on calling it “free” when it really is not). Just the other day I passed a moron on a very long exit ramp (while I still had a legitimate lane to pass) who pulled this number. And yes, they had a handicapped plate. The speed limit on the ramp was 45. I think. Actually, I wasn’t paying attention. But long ones are usually higher limits, something like that. Either way, I was right, he was wrong. I’m pretty sure. go gO Go GO GO!!!

9.) Get off my ass. If we are enveloped in fog, heavy rain, heavy traffic or we happen to know it’s the last of the month and the cops are out trying to fulfill their quota for the month of speeding tickets, don’t ride me. There are plenty of other lanes. I will not hinder you or I will get over if I know there’s a cop ahead and you’re being an idiot. I would love nothing more than to see you tailgate me only to get pulled over ahead. Go ahead, buddy, ride my ass. I know you’ll enjoy the extra-bright lumens my newish car on regular beams foists upon your rods and cones once you’re happily ahead of me. And I’ve been rear-ended before – the pleasure is all mine from your insurance company. Blowing you a kiss! Mooowah…

10.) Hail (same pronunciation as “hell” in the South) to the multitude of idiots who are clueless that just because their car CAN fit between me and the guy in front of me (especially going at very high speeds), doesn’t mean that’s why I was maintaining a car’s length between me and the guy in front of me. Conditions, anticipation, experience and wisdom all contribute to that car length – or two – between me and the next guy. On a trans-water commute, there is nowhere to go but in the soup, if you screw up. Follow my lead and wait before you impose your vehicle in the safety space. Think, dope. I mean, really…where do you think you’re going to go so fast with all that traffic in front of you and nothing but water everywhere else? And hope you’re carrying a life vest in your car in case you decide to go take a dip with the sharks, jellyfish and the alligators. See ya.

11.) Do not, repeat, DO NOT tailgate me when I am going 82 or something like that, regardless of what lane I’m in. Unless you are the law and it is because I am  totally unaware of you behind me as I am blaring my favorite song for several miles or the song ends, whichever comes first. See #9. You are sharing the road with someone who once lived in open desert, where towns were 2 hours apart and the fastest way to get there was doing speeds close to or in excess of 100 mph. You kind of forget what the speed limits are out there, since the last posted sign was last seen over an hour ago.

12.) My being lost in thought does not give you permission to be lost in yours. I am counting on you for mercy when I need it, and you’re supposed to know when that is. I give the same to you in most cases. I even let some of you go first when you are trying to turn onto a busy highway from a same-side-street driveway. BTW, I’m not not paying attention, I’m probably busy praying for you.

13.) Speaking of which, I saw the ultimate act of driver generosity result in a horrible accident once last year: do not try this at home. Some bonehead decided he would be Sir Gallant and let a pitiful driver turn left, who was attempting to turn from the opposite side of a 4-lane highway. Sir Gallant stopped in the left lane headed north, there was no traffic (so they thought) in the right lane headed north, and pitiful southbound driver was trusting Sir Gallant to let him go ahead and make that turn – and he turned…just as an unsuspecting northbound driver in the right lane barreled into him, which he had not anticipated because Sir Gallant was blocking the left lane, stopped for no apparent reason to those in the right lane. Use good judgment and common sense when you try to be courteous – your courtesy may cost someone’s life.

14.) I am amused at the driving of my coworker-superiors and subordinates when they don’t realize I am driving near them. I will refrain from elaborating on this one for obvious reasons. Just know that you are being analyzed. But please don’t analyze me; I like to believe that I am invisible in my impenetrable auto domain. And I didn’t mean to cut that stupid curb in the parking lot trying to steer around the pothole. Twice in one month. Damnit, and right in front of the administrative offices. Hopefully they were poring over financial statements or something similarly riveting, and didn’t notice. Fix the damn pothole, already.

15.) My IQ doesn’t go down when I get behind the wheel, yours does (if I don’t know you).

Now excuse me while I go whip up a big ol’ pot of Jambalaya for game day. We now return to our regularly scheduled Southern décorum (straightening and smoothing my dress, here, along with a fresh re-application of lipstick. Ahem).

And thanks, God, for getting me everywhere I need to go, safely.

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