Monthly Archive for October, 2007

11 years ago today

Edited to add, check out the bottom of the post!  I found the pictures!

Yes, today is Halloween, but I always think of something else on this day. It always pops into my head before anything else.

On Thursday, October 31st, 1996, I was involved in a pretty serious car accident.

Eleven years ago today, I was living in an apartment in a Midwestern “big city.” I was working at my first “real job” after graduating from college. It wasn’t my career choice or long term goal, but it was enough to pay the bills. Plus, it was super-close to my apartment. I had just purchased a brand new Chevy Cavalier, and I hadn’t even made a payment on it yet.

I was a Collections Associate, which is a fancy way of saying I was a bill collector for a major retail credit card company. I worked in a ‘pod’ and I was attached to a ‘dialer.’ It wasn’t glamorous, but I made the best of it. It was good to be gainfully employed.

This company is very strict about dress code. The length of our skirts, sleeves, and types of appropriate footwear were all dictated from the top. No customers ever saw us, but it didn’t matter. Images needed to be maintained.

A few weeks before Halloween rolled around, some of us got together and approached management about the possibility of allowing us to dress up for Halloween. Some of us voiced an interest in wearing contraband attire, such as fishnet hose, or a shirt that exposed a shoulder, or a hat. Our supervisor actually wrote a memo to the big wigs pleading our case, and they relented! On this one day, we could be totally unprofessional. Apparently, they realized that if your job consists of being called every name in the book for eight hours a day, a little costume fun could do wonders for morale.

So, I knew what I was going to wear. That morning I got all decked out in my fishnets, tall boots, and short black dress. It was always chilly in the office, so I wore one of my cute black jackets. The pointy black hat made the outfit complete.

Even after getting ready, I was going to be early for my shift. Another strict policy was you couldn’t clock in more than two minutes before your shift, and you only had one minute to get clocked in. I worked the second shift (11:30am to 9:00pm), because there was a shift differential and I was used to staying up late at night. At that time, old college habits died hard, and I’d just graduated five months prior. Getting paid extra to work such a great shift seemed perfect for me!

I glanced at the clock on my dashboard of my brand new car, and it said 11:23. Sweet! It only takes me three minutes to drive there, another minute to park and walk in. I was two minutes away from the parking lot. You could tell the day was going to be a bit overcast, but nice. It was the perfect late October day. Because I worked every other Saturday, I got to have this Friday off. This is going to be such a good early-start to the weekend!

The sound at the instant of impact is one I will never forget. It was a cross between a loud bang and a huge popping noise.

It took a split second for me to realize that I’d been hit. I remember feeling my car careen out of control toward a sign, and my defensive driving training took over. I swerved to avoid the sign and ended up in the median, not realizing that one side of my car was already destroyed, so hitting the sign really wouldn’t have mattered.

My driver’s side door was smashed, and I couldn’t get out. I remember starting to panic, as I forced the door open with all my might. Within seconds, five cars had stopped. People were calling on their cell phones. (Keep in mind this was 1996, so phones weren’t so commonplace!) People were asking if I was okay.

In the middle of the intersection was the bumper of the little red Sunbird that had t-boned my car. A tall woman in a long skirt was pacing back and forth, obviously agitated. As long as I live, I will never forget the sing-songy words that came out of her mouth. “Dammit. I’m gonna be late for my luncheon!”

“Excuse me?” I gasped. “Your luncheon?? Have you seen what you did to my car??” I’m not even sure if what I said was audible. I was still in shock.

Oh, I don’t know…maybe stopping at stop signs and looking both ways would have actually saved you time!? Of course, I said that in my head.

About this time, the police and ambulance arrive. I’m standing on the street shaking, partly from the cold and partly because looking at my car made me wonder how I was able to stand at all.

The police officer comes up to me and says, “Miss, maybe you’d better wait in my car.” At first I thought he was being nice, but then I noticed a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Then I remembered my outfit! “Oh my gosh! I don’t always dress this way! We got permission at work! It’s Halloween! My pointy hat is in the car!” To this day, I’m still not sure he believed me, and I’m very leery of wearing black lipstick in public.

To make what’s turning into a rather long story shorter, when asked if I was “okay” I said “no.” I could hear all of my lawyer friends’ voices in my head. “Admit to nothing at the scene! You’re not okay until a doctor says you’re okay!” But, in reality, my neck and back really were screaming in pain, and my knees were bloody from slamming into the center console by the gearshift. I was young and naive, and refused to ride in the ambulance, because I wanted to get to work (looking back, how silly!). They told me where my car was being towed, which hospital to go to, and offered me a ride to work.

Showing up to work in a police car made my hooker witch costume complete.

I explained to my supervisor what had happened, and she let me call my mom. (Since we were on a dialer system, it was impossible to make personal outbound calls. She had a phone in her office that she let me use.) That’s when I lost it and started crying. My mom, of course, dropped everything and came to get me. This was a huge deal, because she does not live close to the city, and I can only imagine how stressful this whole thing was for her.

She took me to the hospital, and the coolest part about the visit was having the doctor look at my injuries and have him tell me exactly what had happened. (I hadn’t told him the details of the crash.) “Let me guess,” he said calmly. “You were driving, and a car slammed into your driver’s side door. The force of the impact snapped your neck this way and then back, and your knees slammed into something…probably the center console. You’re lucky the airbags didn’t deploy, and how your face didn’t get cut by any flying glass is beyond me.” Hearing a third party describe it made it even more real. It wasn’t a horrible nightmare; it had really happened.

After the hospital, we went to see what was left of my car and take pictures. (Pictures, by the way, that are in such a good, safe place that even I can’t find them. I’ve looked everywhere. They aren’t in my file, so I’ve put them somewhere super-secret and special. If I ever find them, I’ll figure out a way to post them. They’re impressive. ***Edited to add: I found my pictures!! See below!) Miraculously, my driver’s side window stayed intact, which was how I’d avoided facial cuts. The scariest thing was seeing the glass from the other car’s headlights and turn signals inside my car. The Sunbird ran that stop sign at a pretty fast clip to have hit my car with such force.

I was so lucky. Granted, not lucky enough to avoid being the target of an insanely impatient driver in the first place, but lucky nonetheless.

Years later, the city added a stoplight at that intersection. Of course, I’d already moved on to bigger and better things. That route was, unfortunately, the only way to get to work, and I never quite got over driving through that intersection.

I spent months in physical therapy for my back, and months battling the insurance company, both of which were excruciating but all worked out in the end. Luckily, I had awesome insurance, and the accident had been deemed 100% Crazy Sunbird Lady’s fault. I finally got everything worked out, got another new car, and tried to get on with my life.

So, yes, today is Halloween, but it’s also the 11th anniversary of a different kind of frightful experience for me. Scary, indeed.

***Edited to add: Here they are! The pictures were where they were supposed to be, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see them when I looked the first time. Here are a couple of them, anyway. As always, you can click on the picture a couple of times to see bigger and bigger versions:

 

car accident 1996, a couple of photos

23-months old today!

Well, we have one month left before Claire turns 2-years old!! I realize this benchmark marks the beginning of a stereotypically challenging year, but I’m actually looking forward to this. Yes, I’m writing this down so that I can read back and see what a glutton for punishment I really was. 😉

What else can I do? It is what it is, right? I’ve dealt with some incredibly frustrating adults in my life, most of which didn’t have such a beautiful smile or offer to give me such a sweet hug and kiss after a meltdown. 😉

I love the fact that she talks all the time, and with that are these wacky ideas of how things should work. Here she is, this morning, in mid-story…before she was even technically up for the day. 🙂

in mid-story…23-months old today!

As frustrating as Toddler Logic and Mood Swings are, they are amazing to watch. It’s not unlike a tornado…so powerful and destructive, yet oddly mesmerizing. I find myself wondering what will happen next. Will there be more flailing about on the ground? Will there be more whining? What about the screaming…will there be more of that?

Figuring out you’re not the same person as someone else is a monumental thing, and it’s fraught with painful realizations. Understanding that you actually have a say in the matters around you can be intoxicating. It’s something we take for granted, standing so far away from our 2-year old selves. We made it, and so will she.

So, we have one more month before we can officially celebrate Claire’s induction into the Two-Year Old club…

23-months old today!

…and I can’t wait!

Put on a happy face

Well, PaPa and Daey left today for the long drive back home.  They’d surprised us (almost quite literally) with a visit, and they knew they’d only stay for a long weekend.  They squeezed in as much time with Claire as they could on this visit, and we all had a great time.

The last time they were here, in June, the day they left and the following day were extremely rough on Claire…and Momma.  She wasn’t old enough to know that they’d gone bye-bye as in “we won’t see you for a long time” as opposed to “we’ll be back from the store shortly.”  We were going to be seeing them in about a month, but that was no consolation to poor little Claire who wanted to see them right now.

I’m not sure how things will go this time.  They just left, and she’s happily playing in my office while I’m trying to get caught up on files.  I really think she thinks they’ll be back later today.  They won’t; we won’t be seeing them in person until December.  I’m not going to dwell on that…but it’s hard not to brace myself for the worst.

I’m trying to put on a happy face, and I’m trying to remain calm, upbeat and positive.  Maybe this time will go better than last time?

I certainly hope so…for her sake, and mine.  🙁

Dialogue, Schmialogue

“Hey, that woman from House is on my Xbox game! You know…she’s that one that is a brunette and was a blonde. Er, I mean, she was a brunette, and now she’s a blonde? Anyway…she’s on here! I can’t remember her name.”

“Cameron? Cameron is on your game?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“What does she play? Who is she?”

“I don’t know. She was telling me something important, but I couldn’t focus. I just kept thinking about how she is on House, and how much better she looks as a brunette.”

“Wasn’t that the tutorial? Aren’t you supposed to pay attention to those?”

“Yeah, but I hate the tutorials…there’s just too much dialogue.”

I’m not surprised. This is a man who will talk through an entire episode of whatever I’m watching, completely oblivious to the fact that the conversations on the screen are kind of important to the plot.

He thinks I get worked up over the silliest things, and I think he’s lucky he’s cute. 😉

Welcome to our Castle

In preparation for the party today, we decided to stick with the theme Claire chose, and we turned our house into a castle.

We painstakingly built stone walls…

Stone walls in the entryway Stone walls in the dining room Stone walls by the stairs

And, you can’t have a costume party at a castle without a jack-o-lantern and a gargoyle…

Spooky…

And, the most important part? A fun time was had by all!

Princess Claire

Photo Friday – Sneak Peek! (A BONUS PICTURE!)

I just couldn’t resist posting another photo!  I love the way her hair and costume looks in this picture.

Such a pretty princess…

I’m sure we’ll get tons of pictures tomorrow, but here’s another sneak peek of the princess in her costume.  (And, if you’re a real princess…is it really a costume, or just another outfit?)  😉

Photo Friday – Sneak Peek!

We are having a costume party tomorrow night, and it should be a lot of fun! Today, I had planned on getting out the precious princess costume and having Claire try it on again, just to see what adjustments need to be made.

Even before Claire was out of bed this morning, she insisted on holding it. Please, Momma! Hurry!

Princess Costume

As you can see, Claire isn’t excited at all about the costume. 😉 Ha. Just getting to hold it was enough to send her into an unadulterated fit of glee. I hope she can withstand the joy of actually getting to wear it. 🙂

Knock, Knock…

Who’s there?
You!?

I found out yesterday evening that Daey (Claire had trouble saying ‘Granny’ at first, and the nickname ‘Daey’ has stuck!) and PaPa are going to visit us! TODAY. They can’t stand not seeing their baby doll, Claire, for another moment, so they’ve decided to pack up the car and drive 8 hours to see us for a long weekend. I love visitors, but I’d like a little more of a warning.

(Daey and PaPa, if you’re reading this…shame on you! You’re lucky we got the guest room cleaned up last night, or you would have had to sleep on top of all the camping equipment. That’s what happens when you show up TWO MONTHS early, and with no warning.) 😉

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that they have the time and means to travel at the drop of a hat. (They are retired, footloose and fancy-free.) My parents can’t get away as often as they’d like, so I’m thankful that Claire has at least one set of grandparents she can see on a relatively regular basis.

Well, I just got the call. They are on their way. They’ll be here in roughly 8-hours, give or take. Do you know how long it takes to clean the house? It depends on how quickly your guests are arriving. 😉

I guess I picked the wrong week to fire the maids.

Spared!!

My hubby has some elderly cousins that live in California.  I can never remember exactly how they are related to us, but I think my hubby’s grandma and this man’s mother were sisters?  Anyway, they also have a cabin here in the mountains, and when they visit, they get a real kick out of seeing Claire.  Well, on Monday, we’d gotten word that their neighborhood was on fire in San Diego.  The house across the street was on fire, and they were evacuated.  That’s the last we’d heard.

Today, I called my hubby’s mom, and we have GOOD NEWS!!  Well, it’s good news for the cousins, and not so good news for some of their neighbors.  They went yesterday, via police escort, to see what was left.  The line to get in to their neighborhood was 3-hours long.  Apparently, the people in front of them took pity on them and let them cut ahead.  (They are both in – or close to – their 80s.)

Their house was spared!!  This is amazing.  The preliminary information we have is that three or four houses on their street are completely burned.  Their house didn’t sustain any damage, and their fence didn’t even melt!  (I guess it’s a newer “plastic” kind…)

I guess before they left, they had sprayed the house with the garden hose.  That kept the deck from catching on fire.  The house itself is stucco and the roof is tile.  Also, their house is a ranch-style home, and it looks as though the two-story houses around them caught the brunt of the embers (the size of basketballs!!).  The house next to theirs is also a ranch and was spared as well.

This is amazing, and we’re SO GLAD to hear this good news.  I can’t imagine the clean-up process to get things back to “normal,” but at least their house was spared.  My heart goes out to all those who weren’t so lucky…

Snooze

I wanted to get up at 6am today.  Let me rephrase that.  I felt I needed to get up at 6am today so that I could catch up on some East Coast files.  (6am here = 8am there)  Plus, Claire usually sleeps until 8:30am or 9am, so having almost three hours of uninterrupted work-time makes me giddy.  So, I set the alarm on my phone, like I always do when I have to get up two hours earlier than normal.  My brain automatically makes my arm flop over and snooze the normal alarm, and usually the sound of the alarm on my cell phone jolts me awake.

Not today.

Today, I snoozed my cell phone alarm twice and then just turned it off.  The reasoning behind my asinine plan escaped me.  The thought of staying in bed turned into this warm creature that snuggled down by my feet and then cast a spell over us.  Just sleep for a couple more hours.  What will it hurt?  They’re just files…  It lulled me back to sleep.

So, 7:44am rolled around, and I’d just snoozed the regular alarm again.  It had started screaming at us at 7:15am, and reminded us every 7-minutes that we really needed to think about getting up.  Now, it really was time to get up, and I couldn’t deny it any longer.

My hubby needs to be out the door by 8:30am to make it to work by 9am, but it’s not like he has a strict schedule.  He prefers to wake up gradually in the mornings, so the snoozing doesn’t bother him.  It’s a requirement.  Snoozing used to irk me, but I’ve evolved and adapted and can sleep through most any alarm.  Some days, this is a good thing…others, it’s not.

Like today.

What was I thinking?  I really should have gotten up when my alarm went off at 6am…but I didn’t.  So, now, today gets to be just as hectic as yesterday was.  Maybe I’ll get things in gear and be really productive today!  (A girl can dream, can’t she?)  Or, I know!  Maybe I’ll set the alarm on my cell phone and get up at 6am tomorrow.  Yep, that usually works.  😉