Archives for category: diary

Dodger

Each weekday morning my cat drives me crazy.

It used to was that I let him out the minute I got up at 4:45 am. He’d sleep at my feet (or at my head) and the minute the alarm went off he would trot to the bathroom, rub up against my legs as I took care of my morning business, and then meow pleadingly at the front door. And I’d let him out.

But a few weeks ago we had a scare. Minutes after I let him out I heard an unearthly noise –  a ghostly, whining moan – followed by a loud, horrific screetch. To any cat owners out there, you know how unnerving that sound can be.

I ran out the front door, calling out my cat’s name but got no response. I then ran to the back door and out into the driveway. Our little kitty was fearfully crouching in the back of the driveway and when I approched him he made a slunky retreat under my husband’s car.

temptations-treats-for-cats-chicken-flavor-3oz-1_1By this time my daughter was up and outside in her nightgown, frantic that her beloved kitty was injured. We coaxed him out from under the car with kitty krack…a bag of Temptation cat treats.

Once inside he seemed no worse for the wear, with the exception of a scratch on his nose and one of his puffy little cheeks. But it was scary. We couldn’t tell if the creature that he had almost come to blows with was simply another cat or something more lethal, like a possum.

Right then and there the decision was made to keep kitty indoors until the sun comes up. And right then and there my mornings went from quiet to cacophonous.

Kitty still sleeps by my head, still joins me in the bathroom for a few leg rubs and scratches, but then I sit at the computer and he sits at the door and cries. And cries. And cries. From 4:45 – 6:30 am he cries moanfully, and bangs his paw on the wooden blinds, which make a horrible clattering noise.

Cuddie

That’s when I hit him with the spray bottle. And he runs away…for a minute. Then he’s right back wailing and crying and banging the blinds, where I again grab the spray bottle to give him another squirt. My husband is worse, though. He’ll chase him around the house spraying the poor cat until he’s fairly soaking.

By the time the sun is starting to rise I am more than ready to drop kick him out the front door. So my rule is, if it’s light enough for me to see the street, he is cleared for take-off. My daugher and husband do not share in the wisdom of this rule. They want the sun high in the sky before he can head out, but they haven’t been up for 90 minutes listening to his wails and moans and blind banging.

If it wasn’t so annoying, it would almost be comical. It’s like he’s missing some big kitty meeting that all of his buddies are at, and he’s the only newbe left inside. I wish I could reason with the little fucker…sit him down and say, “kitty – there are monsters out there, and we don’t want them to eat you up so you have to stay in where it’s safe.”

He’s such a beautiful kitty. The thought of something happening to him, something like what we went through with Olive last spring, is too painful for me to bear. I just hope he gets used to our new schedule soon – cause it’s not even winter yet, and the mornings are only going to get darker for the next month.

Radio

I love talk radio.

It may stem from the years I spent driving with my dad as a child. With dad, there was no tuning in to to the throngs of New York city’s music stations – no chance of hearing ABBA or KC and the Sunshine Band. With dad it was all talk radio.

Some of it was a real snore, especially the shows that gave investment advice. That was when you stared out the window watching the scenery whiz by dreaming of the day the Walkman would be invented. But sometimes the shows were interesting, especially Bob Grant who would yell at callers if he was in the mood to do so. I thought he was horribly mean, but it made for good radio.

When I got a car of my own my love for talk radio grew. Whenever I made trips to the Jersey Shore or down to U of D, I’d turn to talk radio because, quite frankly, it got tiring listening to music. The stations could get very repetative – my brain would need a break from That’s What Friends are For.

Plus you would drive in and out of FM station range, usually during a song you loved. But for some reason AM radio waves travel super far. I live in Virginia, and sometimes on a clear night I can get 1010 WINS from New York City.

On these drives I found and fell in love with advice shows. Sally Jesse Raphael was always a good find – throngs of folks calling in to ask advice on a myriad of topics, some boring some bizarre. And who can forget Dr. Ruth talking about errrrrrections? (roll the “r”!) Now that was entertaining radio!

Years later when I moved to Florida I was desperately looking for a good talk radio advice show. Enter Dr. Laura. At first I was really excited – more troubled folk and expert advice – sign me up! But it didn’t take long for me to realize that Dr. Laura was, to put it mildly, a judgemental bitch.

One of her favorite things to harp on was working mothers, of which I was (and still am) one. In her mind there was no excuse what so ever for working when you had children. I would hear callers attempt to get advice about a problem, but if good old Dr. Laura got wind that you were a working mom you now had a second problem to deal with and rarely got any solutions to your first one.

That was the Dr. Laura game, and I got tired of getting angry and screaming at my dashboard. So I tuned her out. That was 15 years ago.  But I have to admit, every now and then I need a Dr. Laura refresher dose.

Talk radio here in Charlottesville is nothing to write home about. Althought it’s a fairly liberal college town, the local radio stations didn’t get that memo. It’s all Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingram and other ultra right-wing brain washing shows. They used to have Clark Howard on, but they got rid of him, and I stopped listening to the radio and moved on to audiobooks.

But lately I haven’t been able to latch onto a book that I really like so I turned to podcasts. Remembering my love of advice, searched for advice podcasts and stumbled across Dr. Laura. Should I or shouldn’t I? What the hell, I thought and downloaded 4 calls just to see if she was still as big of an asshole as I remember her being.

Call 1 – woman just got out of a 3 year abusive relationship and needs advice on how to move on. Right off the bat Dr. Laura digs for items she can use to cause shame – how long after your divorce did you start to date him? How many minor children in the household? You could almost hear the woman trying to answer in a way where Dr. Laura could find little fault in her.

Ha! Fat chance. A little over 1 minute in Dr. Laura called her pathetic – when the woman pressed on seeking help, Dr. Laura says, “Ok, so tell me why you are so stupid and weak.” What a saint.

Call 2 – A nurse calls in saying she is nervous about an upcoming surgery and was concerned about how she would feel becoming the patient. Dr. Laura’s response? “Well this tells me you look down on your patients.”

When the woman began to argue and defend herself, Dr. Laura said “I’m right – don’t you argue with me,” and then continued on to tell the woman that as a nurse she considers herself superior to her patients and gives them substandard care. And then finished the sentence with “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

It wasn’t until the woman was in tears that Dr. Laura pulled back and actually made an attempt to help her.

Call 3 – This was a classic Dr. Laura case. A 19 year old girl calls asking advice on ending her 3 year relationship with her boyfriend. Dr. Laura immediately discounts any validity in her relationship because you can’t possibly know what love is at 19. Then she berates the girl for shacking up and “Laying on her back and opening up her legs.”

You could hear the girl trying her best to ignore the snarky quips and attempt to get some advice, but it was tough coming. Eventually it came out that this poor girl was in foster care most of her life after getting away from an abuse mother. Then Dr. Douchebag was a bit more understanding of how she might have made some wrong choices and gave her some advice.

I never got to call 4. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was only 3 phone calls in and I was ready to punch her repeatedly.

But in those three calls I saw a pattern. Dr. Laura’s m.o. is to first shame you into submission if you have done anything that remotely goes against her strict moral code – the way she thinks the earth should turn. Then maybe she’ll help you. That puts her in charge; you’re a loser and you suck and you are to shut up and listen. I’ve seen dogs treated better than these poor souls that were coming to her for help.

She used this tactic in every call – she’s nothing but a big bully who makes a living putting folks who are already miserable in their place, and then rubbing their noses in their dispair for the sheer fun of it.

So I got my booster shot. She’s still a high riding bitch with followers who love abuse. Sigh. There will be no more of her podcasts on my iPod.

Now Clark Howard? That’s another story – he gives advice I can use. And he’s nice as pie to boot.


Footnote: I’m very proud of myself for having the restraint to not use the c word – it would have fit so nicely, too.

Booze

When I was in my young adult years I couldn’t always find a job in the graphic design field. Desktop publishing was in and paste-up was out, and although I had some experience designing on the Mac, I was still more comfortable with my T-square and pica guage. So art jobs were hard to come by, even when you lived a stones throw from Manhattan.

But a girl’s gotta eat, so I took a job at our local liquor super store, Bottle King. Glamorous, right? Well, it was easy work, and the store was so close I could walk to it. I worked a 40 hour week as a cashier – scanning beer and booze. You’d be surprised the things you could learn wearing that blue Bottle King vest.

I loved working the opening shift because you figure - how many people buy booze at 9 am? Well I’ll tell you something – there was almost always someone waiting for those front doors to open every single day. We had our regulars, that’s for sure.

There was the business man in an overcoat who came in just about every day shortly after 5 and bought a pint of BK Vodka. There was an overweight dude with long hair that would buy 2 or 3 jugs of Almaden wine – not every day, but a few times a week. And there were the throngs of blue collar dudes who came in for their case of Bud, or Miller, or Coors.

And there were the bouffant sisters. Two ladies in their 50s or so with big beehive hair-dos who would fill a shopping cart full of all the fixin’s for Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. They would argue and bicker as they went up and down the aisles, but I have a feeling that they were best buddies again a tumbler or two into happy hour.

Then there were the wine connoisseurs - the folks who came in and bought bottles by the case. My boss liked them. And my boss liked me too. He was a decent guy – I think his name was Mike. If you showed up and did your job, he gave you better shifts and didn’t mind if you took an extra 5 minutes for your dinner break, which was good because it was only 30 minutes long. Just enough time to buy a slice or two and inhale it in his office before heading back to your register.

I remember while I worked there is father died – he had a heart attack while shovelling snow. I felt so bad for him…it’s such a lack luster way to go. Here you are just clearing the snow from your driveway and bam, you’re dead. You know, I think of his dad almost every time I shovel.

During the holidays the store would be rocking. Thanksgiving day the lines would run the entire length of the store back to the beer cases. Ditto on the days leading up to Christmas and New Years. And if we had a big lottery? Uff da – the line would circle the store.

The lottery machine was another ball buster. Not so much if folks filled out their card or just wanted a couple of quick picks. But every week we would get a few hard core lottery players that would come in with a very long, very tattered list of pick 3 and pick 4 numbers. Those sucked.

There was one lady who was in her 60s or 70s that would waddle in with her walker once a week stinking to high heaven. I don’t think she did more than sprinkle water under her armpits once every 6 months. She had that classic, sour, old lady smell and boy, did it linger. You had to practically hold your breath while you punched in her lottery numbers and then the front of the store reeked for at least a half an hour afterwards. But I was never mean to her – not like some of the other cashiers.

We used to have one dude come in that had these odd horn-like growths on his fingers and the back of his hands. One of the girls would tell me she tried to make sure their hands never touched when she took his money. It didn’t bother me though. I don’t like making folks who may have an abnormality feel out of place. Except for once…

We were really busy – so busy that I was nothing more than a change making machine. I was ringing folks up and handing them their change like a robot, barely making eye contact. I went to hand back this one gentleman his change when I saw that the palm extended out to me was not your average palm.

I think the man had Ectrodactyly - where the hand looks more like a lobster claw. In any case it caught me 100% off guard and and instead of dropping the change into his hand, I screamed and threw the change – about 94¢ worth – in the air. It came clattering down noisily as everyone in the store turned to stare.

I was utterly humiliated. But the man was very kind and understanding while I babbled a string of apologies and gathered up his change from the floor. It’s still one of my most cringe-worthy moments.

I worked there on and off for a couple of years. If I left for a new job, and it didn’t quite work out, Mike was always ready and willing to take me back. But eventually I found a good enough job that my Bottle King days were officially over.

The store is still there, but it’s not a Bottle King anymore – it’s now called Wine King – hey! Right up my alley.

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POSTCARD

For the past few years my sister and I have been trying to get back up to Martha’s Vineyard for our family summer vacation. It takes some early planning – we stay at my cousin’s rental house, and in order to secure a week before they are all spoken for, you need to get on the phone with her soon after the summer season is over.

My sister called me last night to let me know that the house is ours for a week, we are just not sure of the date yet. But it’s ours. We are going. My last trip to the Vineyard was in 2005 I think – the year Sasha locked herself in my cousin’s bathroom and we almost left the island out of sheer embarassment.

10 years is too long to be away. Way too long. My oldest has a mild recollection of our few trips there since her birth, but my youngest can’t remember a thing about my favorite summer place. It will all be new to her and I’m psyched that I can show it to her. Excited that both of my girls are going to form memories of the island that will stay with them forever.

Memories just like their mom has.

Memories of mornings at the beach, and afternoons at the bay. Memories of evenings spent walking through the streets of Edgartown or Oak Bluffs, your skin glowing from a day spent in the sun. Memories of eating ice cream on a wharf-side bench while feeling the ocean breezes flutter through your hair. Memories of riding the Flying Horses, mastering the art of grabbing more than one ring each time around.

I’m good at that – they are going to have to practice.

I can’t wait to make my reservations with the Steamship Authority. And to make the drive into Woods Hole, and wait in line for the ferry. Ah, the ferry. It’s a ride I cherish every year. The ride to the island, that is. The one back to the mainland isn’t nearly as much fun.

Oh man. I can’t wait.

50s

Yesterday morning it occurred to me that I had a month left to my 40′s.

I really wanted to blog about it, but my soon-to-be 13 year old was having a Halloween slumber party and there was just no time to blog. Yes, on December 1st, a mere 28 1/2 days from now, Typical Tracy will turn 50.

FIFTY!!!!!
(if WordPress allowed me to make type larger, this would be about 600 pt.)

While I am so not ready to be the big five-oh, I can only hope my 50′s will be better than my 40′s. I have come to the conclusion that it wasn’t a fun decade for me. I won’t go into the details of the how, why’s and when’s, let’s just hope my 50′s are a bit better.

lrs1482_1But 50 is scary. it’s the threshold of old lady-dom. In the blink of an eye I’ll be 60. SIXTY (where is that 600 pt. font size button?) By then it seems like I should have grey, short cropped permanently permed hair. Don’t all old ladies have that hairstyle? Isn’t it an old lady prerequisite to have this hairstyle?

I don’t want that hair! That hair is from another generation - where men were dapper and women demure. I was watching an old couple at the supermarket the other day. She was in her elastic waist pants and a sensible blouse, while her husband was clad in belted trousers, tucked in oxford shirt, and required hat.

I can’t imagine my generation will dress like that when we’re older. I look shitty in short hair. And why would I ever want it short AND curly?

I have to say, in the same trip to the store, I noticed a woman who I will most likely be in 20 years. I was putting my groceries in the trunk of the Sloviemobile, when a woman walked by dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, her gray hair in loosely plaited braids, and a baseball hat on her head.

Yeah, I think that will be me.

I can’t see myself as an old lady though. When I think of being 50 I can’t help but think of my mom – like how  my mom was when I was my daughter’s ages…and I don’t feel like my mom. While lovable and warm, my mom seemed like a sort of a fuddy-duddy.

I’m not a fuddy duddy!

Or am I? I doubt my girls would give me an honest answer.

I still feel like I’m in my 30′s. But I’m not…not by a long shot. Oh, this sucks. I’m thinking too much about this.

FIFTY.

fifty.

50.

Vintage Dad

My mom did 95% of the cooking in our house. The other 5% of hash slinging came in the form of Saturday breakfasts, courtesy of my dad. I’m not sure when this weekend ritual began or why. Perhaps dad was trying to give mom a break one Saturday morning and his culinary creation was so well-received by his hungry brood that he continued the tradition. All I know is that during the majority of my childhood, I woke up on Saturday morning to the smell of something cookin’ in the kitchen.

Ah, the smells. They were very telling as to what Pop was preparing. He had a few specialties that upon your first waking, you could detect from their aroma alone .

My favorite Saturday morning breakfast was palacinky, otherwise known to the Bucek kids as “Nana’s pancakes.” They were simple and oh-so delicious; a crepe rolled up tightly with a filling of cinnamon & sugar, or a thin smear of jelly. Both were phenomenal. We could eat 5 each, and Pop was cooking for himself and four kids – that’s a lot of crepe rolling.

myVmpFBH0uIyoIkujSIfzfwIt wasn’t just the eating that made Nana’s pancakes a treat. Pop would go through a lot of cinnamon & sugar making these puppies, and he usually had to make a new batch and refill the shaker. Ah, that shaker…pale yellow and shaped like an army bugler, it sat on the window sill next to the stove for most of my childhood. I don’t know why it was there as opposed to the the cabinet where the other spices were kept – we only used it once a week. Yet, there it sat.

Once Pop had mixed up the cinnamon & sugar, he’d begin the science experiment. I’d watch as he dribbled a few drops of water into the cinnamon coated bowl, then roll it around. I’d watch the droplets of water become cinnamon coated balls. Another one of Pop’s palacinky tricks was what he did with the dregs of the batter. He’d drizzle it into the hot pan, creating a series of dots, splats and other rorschach type shapes. Despite the fact that I had just consumed a fair quantity of pancakes, I could not resist these organic, one-of-a-kind treats.

slanina-taraneasca-afumataAnother Saturday morning favorite was Slanina – a form of Slovak bacon that my dad would get from a Czech butcher in Astoria, NY. It was smoked, thus fully cooked, and rarely saw the heat of a frying pan in our house. We ate it cold, cut  into slices and slapped on a piece of rye bread with salt & paprika. Between the four of us, plus dad, we could destroy a slab of slanina, not to mention the loaf of rye bread.

I remember once when my friend Leslie slept over, we awoke to a slanina breakfast. I was eager to share this delicacy with her, but after presenting her with a perfectly sliced and seasoned slab o’ slanina on Jersey rye, she wrinkled her nose and said, “EW!”

“Ew?” Waddaya mean, “Ew?”

“It’s all fat!” she said.

Yes, there was a fair amount of fat…it’s bacon! She could not be persuaded to take even the tiniest bite, opting for a bowl of Quisp instead. I sat right in front of her, eating my slanina and spitefully licking my fingers.

Every now and then Pop would decided to fry the slanina – I don’t remember liking it this way, perhaps because of the smell. While cooking, the slanina smelled like B.O. Strong B.O. Have you ever passed someone on the street and caught a whiff of their sour, acrid body odor? You were thankful for every step that put distance between you and the offender. Now imagine that smell ten fold, but you had no escape. Those mornings I kept as far away from the kitchen as possible.

Another one of Pop’s breakfast staples that I was not a fan of was liver and onions. Pop would take a batch of minced chicken livers and slowly saute them in a huge pan with thinly sliced onions and what seemed like a pound of butter. When the onions were soft and caramelized, he’d plop the pan on the kitchen table along with a bag of rye bread (is that all we ate???) and my siblings would descend like vultures.

They didn’t even use plates. They would just grab a lice of bread and drag it through the pan, sopping up butter, onions and little bits of liver. It was the only kid that didn’t like this particular dish. I tried to like it…I really did. Oh well, it just left more for the vultures.

gridI’m sure Pop cooked simpler fare…things like french toast or eggs. All of our Saturday morning breakfasts weren’t so ethnic. But those are the ones I remember the most. No matter what wound up in the kitchen table, I knew that I’d come down on a Saturday morning to find dad, usually clad in a white under shirt and his frayed jean shorts, slinging hash on our very cool, ancient stove.

And I’ve continued the tradition. I try to make Saturday breakfast something more than just a bagel or a bowl of cereal. My kids love their palacinky as much as I did as a kid, and so does there dad. But I can tell you one thing. There will be no liver and onions.

Ever.

too-busy-people-workplace-ecard-someecards

I have been rather negligent in filling you in, dear reader, on the stories and everyday occurrences of my life via this blog. And I apologize for that.

But, I have been extraordinarily busy over the past few months. It seems like all I do is work, and be a mom these days. It takes up every minute of my day. By the time I get home from work at 6:30 I throw together some dinner and pretty much collapse in bed to watch TV until I fall asleep at 8:15.

Even if I had the energy, it would be hard to blog in the evening. My 12 year old daughter has discovered Minecraft and the computer is rarely free once she’s out of school and homework is done. Besides, after a 9 hour day at the computer, it’s sort of the last place I want to be.

It’s odd, because the real estate market is supposed to slack off in the fall, and become all but dead in the winter. I hear my agents talking about what a miserable fall it’s been. You’d never know it from my end. I am slammed with work from the second I wake up my computer until it’s time to lock up the office at 6. Many times I don’t even take a lunch – there’s just too many deadlines to meet. I eat at my desk and forgo my afternoon walk.

i8FfIybusy-working-through-lunch-time-workplace-ecards-someecards

Weekends aren’t much of an option either these days. I have two freelance clients and my Saturdays and Sundays belong to them, along with laundry and cleaning and yard work and a daughter who needs to go shopping for shoes, or a Halloween costume.

Plus the weekend is the only time I get to attempt to cook something decent – something that takes time, and love. And then there’s wine. I don’t type well after a glass or two. And the couch is so much more inviting than the desk chair by then.

And you’d think after putting in all these hours I’d be rolling in the dough. Nope. Still as broke as ever. I’m one of those middle class folk who work just to pay the bills and keep my head above water. But we have little debt - and that’s something to be thankful for. But the extras? Forget it.

It should all slow down soon though. I’ll still be putting in the same amount of hours, but I won’t be in such a mad rush to get through the growing “to-do” list on my desk for 8 hours straight. I’ll be able to take a long afternoon walk instead of just a stroll around the block to clear my head. I’ll be less frantic, and way less stressed.

And perhaps I can slip in a blog or two…

Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s not with us anymore – this marks the 20th year I’ve lived on this earth without her, but I always remember her birthday. Well, not always as this repost will reveal. Yeah, I pretty much put this out there once a year to remember my mom and to remind myself of the one time I forgot…


My mom was great. Always willing to hug you and give you a big dose of mommy lovin’ even when you weren’t exactly in the mood for it. She kept us fed with kick-ass food, and I only wish I had half of her recipes, especially her spaghetti sauce.

Although she wasn’t big on letting us climb trees or go exploring where good little girls ought not to be venturing (that’s what dad was for), she was always ready to take us shopping for new school clothes or those jeans you just had to have even though dad griped that there was no money for them.

She made lots of stuff too. Not only did she sew a ton of our clothes when we were kids (another skill I wish I had picked up from her), she did all sorts of crafty things like embroidery and crocheting. If she could make it rather than buy it, she did. I have a little of that in me. Thank God for the internet or I’d never know how to crochet. But I gave up on embroidery when I stitched my Holly Hobby sampler to my pants leg. Twice.

I remember one birthday of my mother’s specifically. It was when I was around 22. I was out of college, living at home, and totally involved with my job, my friends, and my boyfriend. Her birthday came and went without a word from me. The following morning, I said, “oh, by the way happy birthday!” and went to hug her, and she shrugged me off, clearly upset that I had pretty much blown it off.

Talk about feeling bummed out. And ashamed. My mom was the type who could put you on a serious shit-list and boy oh, boy did you feel it. After work that day I went out and bought her a gift. I took my time and chose a fancy black sweater/sweatshirt thing with a funky geometric pattern on it.

Hey don’t judge too harshly… it was the 80s after all.

I presented it to her that evening with my sincerest apologies. She opened it, threw it aside and exclaimed, “I have nothing that goes with that.”

I was a little crushed, but I had a feeling she was still trying to punish me for being such a douchey daughter. It was a month or so later that she wore it to go spend a night out with friends. 2 weeks later she wore it again. And again. And again.

Turns out she loved it – just like she loved me. She just didn’t want to admit it because I’d really hurt her feelings. I never broker her chops about claiming she didn’t like it either, but I felt a real sense of pride and satisfaction every time she wore it.

I really miss her. I dream about her every once in a while, and it’s nice to see her again. And as I revisit her on her birthday I hope she’s watching me – and I bet she’s wearing that bad 80’s sweater.

Paparazzi-2

Charlottesville is in hot water again. This beautiful town that I work in is included in just about every top-ten list imaginable; Happiest town, best college town, most exciting place in Virginia. However, it’s also become notorious for one other thing…missing women.

I’m sure most of you have heard about our newest missing co-ed, Hannah Graham. Notice how I used the word “newest.” When the story broke the first thing I thought was “Oh God, not again.” ‘Cause my area has a real panache for women coming up missing.

Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington, Dashad Smith, Alexis Taylor, and Samantha Clarke – all young women who have disappeared from our area in the past 5 years or so. Janet Field and Bonnie Santiago – two middle aged women who have also vanished, but because they are older don’t get grouped in with the other girls. But I’m grouping them in – you know why?

Because out of all the missing women only one body has been found - Morgan Harrington’s. Something rather screwed up is going on around here.

They have a suspect now, and it’s beginning to look like he might have a lot to do with the slew of missing women in our area. DNA evidence could possibly link him to several other crimes, including the death of Morgan Harrington. We shall see what transpires over the next few months as Charlottesville is once again in the midst of a media frenzy.

A few years back UVA senior Yeardley Love was killed by her one-time boyfriend George Huguely, and the trial that followed created a gridlock of news vans and reporters camped out on the street across from the courthouse (and a block from my office) for weeks on end.

mediaI have a feeling this one is going to be much, much worse. While taking my lunchtime walks last week I would see throngs of vans with their satellite dishes lining the streets leading up to the Downtown Mall, the last place Hannah was seen alive. The photo here taken on my walk only shows a small portion of the vans lining one street. There were four or five on this block alone. There were at least 5 more by the police station.

And that’s not counting the reporters. They were camped all up and down the Mall, filming stock footage or doing live broadcasts. Stations from DC and Baltimore – not just our local guys.

And poor Hannah hasn’t even been found. I am sick to my stomach over the thought of what this poor girl might have gone through, and what her parents are going through. It took three months for Morgan Harrington to be found in the corner of a remote field; the property owner was checking his fences for needed repairs when he found her.

I’m sick about it and I’m mad too. I’m beginning to lose faith in humanity. Why are there so many predators out there? How is it that so many mentally unbalanced people can live among us and we are absolutely clueless – until the next girl or child comes up missing, or raped, or beaten. And why is it mostly men?

Sorry if I offend any of my dude readers out there, but answer me…why is it almost always men??? My husband is always telling our two girls that boys are bad – I’m inclined to start believing him. Because out of all the news stories I see involving violent crime, I’d wager that 90% of the culprits are men. Why? Too much testosterone? Mental health issues? Not enough love from mom? Who knows.

Pessimistic as it may sound, I know they won’t find Hannah alive. Every day it rains, or it’s hot, or cold I think, “that poor girl’s body, out in this.” There are some that speculate the only hope of finding Hannah alive is if she were sold into the human trafficking industry. What a crappy alternative to have to hope for.

 The suspect in the case is due in court Thursday, but via satellite hook-up. That should keep the media from making too big a scene outside the courthouse. But in the weeks to come, if the case goes to trial here in Charlottesville, it’s going to be a madhouse out there.

car crash

Yesterday I debated exactly when to leave the house to pick up my daughter from school. I wanted to watch the end of Project Runway to see who got eliminated – I could have saved it until I got back home, but decided to fast forward through all the boring judges comments and watch it before I left.

Then the cat gave me a hard time as I was going out the door – did he want to go out or didn’t he? I sat waiting for him to saunter out the door I was holding open only to have him sit right in front of the threshold.

Ugh! Cats! I told him tough luck and closed the door behind me. Little did I know what these little and seemingly insignificant delays would do to the rest of my day.

The road I take to the school is mostly rural. There are a few intersections and a roundabout, but it’s mostly quiet. The busiest spot is when I pass the Food Lion shopping complex. Folks are always turning in and out and I’ve seen my share of accidents there so I am usually a bit cautious and watchful while in that area.

Yesterday, as I was approaching the entrance to the shopping complex, I saw a gold car waiting to turn onto the road I was traveling on. I was then surprised to see it pull out in front of me – I was a bit too close for comfort and was doubly annoyed after a quick glance in my rear-view…not a soul behind me.

That irks me to no end – when someone feels the need to pull out in front of you – making it a necessity for you to apply your brakes – when there is nobody behind you. I thought to myself, “why couldn’t this person wait until I went past?”

As I am applying my brakes I then see this person put on his right turn blinker and go to turn into a driveway that is a mere 20 feet past the shopping center intersection. So rather than cutting in front of me and gunning the engine to minimize the effects of his poor driving judgement, he is coming to almost a complete stop in order to turn into a driveway.

I am thinking “wtf” and braking hard, and begin to steer my car a little to the right to avoid rear ending him when he puts on his left turn signal and proceeds to make a U-turn right in front of me.

This is where things go slow-mo. I know I’m gritting my teeth and bracing hard on the wheel and pushing the brakes with all my might and I can see his car getting closer, and closer, and closer and I know I’m not going to be able to stop in time. And…

BAM.

Not BAM!!!!!!! Just BAM. By this point, with all the braking I had to do, I was probably only going 20 miles an hour when we hit. Maybe less. But we hit. I could see the side of his car was smashed in and was cringing at the thought of the damage to the Sloviemobile.

We pulled over, and I got out to look and was amazed to see nothing more than a scraped bumper on my car. No dents, so cracks, just missing paint and some scratches on the corner of the bumper. I figure my car’s been to the prom in a torn dress for a few years now…one more scratch won’t kill her.

The driver was a young boy – 19 or so – and we were both shaken but thankfully nobody was hurt. We exchanged information…it’s amazing how difficult it is to write legibly when your hands are shaking. We were polite and friendly – no yelling or blaming, although I did ask him why he felt the need to pull out in front of me. We didn’t call the police, only because I had to get to the school to get my daughter, but I called them once I got home just to make an official report.

Then there was the call to the insurance. I told my side, and he told his, which was different from mine – and that worried me. But the insurance guy on the phone told me that he’s been doing this for a long, long time and that the impact evidence on both of our cars corroborates my story and not his. He told me to rest easy and not to let this bother me all weekend.

But it does. My last car accident was when I was in my twenties, and this kid admitted to me that this was his first one. My only consolation is that my car won’t need any repairs, but I felt so bad for this kid who had to go home and show his parents a banged up car – and that the accident was his fault (regardless of what he told the insurance company).

But you know what? I won’t rest easy until my insurance company tells me that I am officially not at fault.

I also thought about the randomness of this event. There was nobody else around when the accident happened. Had I left my house 30 seconds before or after, had I waited to watch the end of Project Runway, or had my cat walked out the door rather than deciding to sit down and be difficult, I may have avoided this entire incident.

I think about that a lot, especially when I hear news reports of a tree falling on a passing car or a bridge collapse. There’s something to be said about timing. And yesterday? Mine was all bad.

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