A post I had thought to avoid


So I was going to lay off the Christmas angst this week, but that was before both kids’ schools called within twenty minutes of each other on Tuesday. Two one hundred degree fevers. Two children in need of picking up. Neither of them sick enough to be bedridden, both of them sick enough to be crabby and evil. And exactly one project to do that would keep them entertained for any length of time.

Salt dough ornaments .(One cup salt, one cup water, two cups flour. Mix until smooth. Hope you have a stand mixer.)  We made these last year because I knew I couldn’t trust Sam with real ornaments, only to discover that they kept vanishing off the tree. Mysterious hanger-hook appearances didn’t seem related until the day that I heard the crunch. Turns out, we made salt-dough-dog-treats. Fudge was cherry picking, then leaving the evidence lying around. So this year, we will hang our salt dough dog treats up a little higher and only give him the ones that don’t get painted first.


In the meantime, instead of cleaning and getting ready for the impending doom holiday, we had to sit around the kitchen table rolling out dough, getting coughed on, and trying to make giraffes stay in their cookie cutters long enough to get dropped on a baking sheet.I had to turn on the oven way early, because last time I used it, the excess crap in the bottom caught on fire.  I needed to be sure I had scraped enough out before I ran the machine again for the hour and a half long drying period the inedibles required.

And when that was all over, we went to the doctor and bought our Christmas tree on the way home. In short sleeves. From a  tree lot that turned out to belong to one of Caroline’s teachers’ husbands. We slapped a string of lights on that baby and called it ready to decorate on my birthday.

Since the salt dough dog-treats aren’t painted yet, they are not tree-ready.  However, thanks to my recent stay with Jenny, I’ve learned about plastic ornaments. I do not care whether they are made in China, destroying the planet, or polluting my children’s environment: they are indestructible. (OK, really, I do care about all those things.) And indestructible means that Sam will at least have to work to smash them, Fudge won’t eat them, and Caroline can have some sparkle on her tree.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law flew in yesterday, so I could let the kids decorating with her (Scott was teaching), while I took pictures. I only had to participate long enough to help them get the angel on top of the thing.

Caroline is still stuck at home through Thursday. (Which is by now today). I just dropped off Sam with promises that we would pick him up right after nap today. Caroline is probably sitting down with her Grandma B and paint the salt dough ornaments, while I, God willing, update my blog.


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Sam’s fever was gone by the time we went to the doctor. Still, of course, could not send him to school on my birthday. Caroline’s fever was up. Feared I would need to send her to the Nutcracker dress rehearsal for awhile. On with the joy

Another update:. Caroline did not have to go to dress rehearsal, but she can still perform. Good thing, since she has the real flu. As an aside, guess which Merriman has actually been vaccinated. Yes, her. Sigh. No, really, spare me. Return me to the place I was previously reading

Final update: I wouldn’t know what my kid is doing at this time, since I’m at PriMed Urgent Treatment facility getting a flu test. They prescribed Sam preventative drugs at the pediatrician’s office, but they won’t give the parents such a generous gift. And Primed won’t either. I hope that if my test comes back positive (it will), Primed will at least give in and prescribe Tamilflu for Scott. OK, I mean it, Jessie. If you interrupt my reading one more time, I quit this blog

Flu test negative. It’s safe to go back up now. Only you’re done anyway.

Two Days until 35

Lest you think I am a total Scrooge (I am) let me pause in my Christmas ranting to tell you something that makes me really happy this time of year. There are several things. But heading up the list is MY BIRTHDAY, which is coming up on Wednesday. People, I was born 11 days before Christmas, and because my Mom is that kind of mother, I never once in childhood lost my day to the big holiday looming soon after. December 14th has always been, and will always be, my favorite day of the year.

Now, getting other kids to come to my party was always a challenge. And by the time I was ten, I’d settled into a routine of dinner and a movie with Mom, and opening presents. I do love presents. I could almost always count on getting a book or two. In fact, Mom probably bought the books first, before she got me anything else. Because books have always been my haven. Approximately the only command I will obey without question is “Just go READ YOUR BOOK”. The desire to read consistently overpowers my ODD soul’s need to defy a direct imperative.

When Christmas gets to be too much, and I completely lose it, I can go read a book. For that matter, when anything gets to be too much, if I’ve got a good book, I’ve got a good escape. Books are my safety net, and I never travel without one. I have a car book, a carry-on luggage book, a bedside book, an office book, a living room book, and a bathroom book. Seriously.It’s one of the reasons our shelves are so crowded. I must have a go-to at all times. And Scott isn’t all that different on this score. Although he is usually reading two tomes at any give time, his are almost always really intense stuff, where mine are a mix of serious reading and fluff.

Mom has never missed giving me a gift, ever, and yes, that does  matter. Last year, she somehow managed to have a live Gardenia delivered to my house ON my exact birthday, and this year, I got my gift several months early while we were in Florida together. (It was awesome, but not the kind of gift to place on a blog, either.)

Adulthood has been a mixed bag. Some years, and this will only increase as I get older, my birthday has been almost completely forgotten. (When I think I have it bad, I remember one sister-in-law’s husband is a Dec. 28 birthday. Ouch.). Other years, it’s like I have two years of birthday fun in one. This year has been of the second variety, and I’m going to be telling you about my birthday this week, because there’s just too much to fit into one post.

Look out world, this year, the Jester Queen turns 35.

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a flicker of inspiration at Lightning BugI’m linking up with The Lightning Bug’s Flicker of Inspriation #28, “Happy Place”.

Down with the Polar Express

Written last night but posted today. Sorry. fell asleep before I could hit paste.
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I save my Christmas spirit for my kids. I have to. There isn’t much of it to go around, they live in a Christian society (American South), and if I can pretend it’s not a shittyass time of year while they’re growing up, then for them, it won’t be.

But god DAMN the TV world challenges me when it comes to giving them the positive face. I just had to drink half a bottle of Riesling (which my wise husband went out and bought when he saw which way things were heading) to shut down a rant about the Polar Express. We’re at a hotel. And there’s no real way for me to turn that shit off without really letting on to my kids, who are oblivious to me cursing at the TV in the background (and no, it’s not in an undertone) that Christmas is the least magical time of year for me. (They are so used to my television hatred that they barely hear it when I bitch about the thing when it’s off, and when it’s on, I might as well be talking to their stuffed animals.) Let’s be clear. I like the book. It’s schmaltzy, but it’s OK. There’s Santa, but he’s not hideously overbearing. And the book is about childhood innocence and preserving it and stuff I can understand and appreciate. If it also means increased Santalove, eh, whatever. There’s an awesome train. Plus, the illustrations are irresistible.

The movie? Same theme, but oh so different. The movie is all about why I hate Santa Clause. It takes all the worst things about Christmas for me and packs them into one nasty barrel. You’ve got a kid who is used to crappy Christmases who gets an attitude adjustment, a token black girl who learns she can be a True Leader, and a skeptic who learns to believe (in the big fucking C).

First, the kid who says “Christmas just doesn’t work out for me”. Why can’t that kid be respected? Why does the movie have to be about proving to that kid that Christmas really is magic? It reinforces an unrealistic expectation. Why not let the kid just find peace? Why not teach kids to love without expectation? (And no, the glasses kid’s lesson in humility does not achieve that end.) Wouldn’t that be better? Why invalidate the emotions of those kids who see the movie whose Christmases will never improve.  Hey Disney, you can’t fix Christmas for everyone.  And pretending you can just makes it worse. Me? I’m an adult. I get pissed, and my heart hurts some, but it doesn’t break. But it would have done me in at nine or ten.

Second, let’s talk about that black kid. You want to go for diversity? Then you need more than one of her. You have three white boys and one black girl in your main character slots.  Why does only one kid have to be black? Why does only one kid have to be a girl? Why do these characters have to be the same person? Why does she HAVE to be the leader? (Exceeding expectations simply to fit in, methinks.) Fuck you, Disney, you have failed the equality test.

And finally, and most importantly, let’s talk about the skeptic who remembers to believe. (AKA, the main main character.) That one makes me more angry than all the rest. When I was a kid, my Mom told me the truth, and my Dad bent it to suit his own needs. Sorry Dad – you’ve gotten more honest since the divorce. When I was five, I knew Dad as the guy who claimed Mom didn’t need to know about his PO Box, the guy who had girlfriends and thought it was OK, and the guy who originated the claim ‘your Mother and I are just very good friends’. So when Dad said Santa was bullshit and Mom said Santa was real, guess who I believed?

And by the time I was eight (and by then I was advocating for divorce), and the score on the Clause hadn’t changed, guess who I continued to believe? My mother, the one who told me the truth about everything. She would never just say, “yeah, I’m the one who loves you enough to stay up late, when I already don’t get home until after midnight most Christmas eves, and put out presents and stockings”. No. She said (still says to this day) “Santa Clause is the spirit of loving and giving in all of us”. Oh man. What. A. Lie.

Yes, OK, if you want to go with the story of St. Nicholas and love and all that jazz, then yeah, OK, what she says is true. But I already knew that stuff. And at a basic level, at the level she knew  I was asking, the answer was “no, he’s not real”. But saying that, for Mom, would have been admitting Dad was right about something, and she still won’t do that.  

So I was about the same age as those kids in the movie (eight or so) when I was starting to piece together the truth for myself. But Mom insisted.  My best friend Jenny and I held a protest – complete with signs and a march through the house – to convince Dad Santa was real. That’s a memory that just makes me cringe. I had to stay up one Christmas Eve and see what went on for myself. (By which time I was an angry ten.)  And you want to talk about resentment? Then let’s talk about seeing a movie about a kid who was just exactly that age being forced back into the lie. Oh yeah. Fuck you Polar express. (If I seem to be losing cogency, it’s because we’ve finished the Riesling and moved on to the Chardonnay.)

I should note that my kids have chosen to believe in Santa.  We told Caroline the truth from a very young age because she thought Santa Clause was Santa Claws, and was certain he was coming to eat her.  But she later met a friend at school who spun a tale that made her happy, and she chose to believe it. I don’t really have a problem with that. I find it awkward that Sam now kind of has to believe. I know better than to try to tell him what’s what when he has a devout believer of a sibling. But in a year or two, Sis will be ready to deal with things, and Sam will be over it then by then, as well. And I can’t wait.

But that wait is seriously irksome, and it’s completely Disney’s fault.  Because Caroline was starting to reassemble the truth for herself this year, and then they watched the Polar Express at school.  Then Sam saw it with us at this hotel. Now, I have another year of having to pretend. It’s a tense game. One I don’t enjoy at all. And one that makes me resent the bullshit of Disney even more.

I never liked Christmas cartoon specials. Even Charlie Brown got on my nerves. The Year Without a Santa Clause (except the Heat and Freeze Meisters; they were awesome) annoyed me to no end. I hated that damned Rudolph thing, which was not about stopping bullying but about making Santa believe in you. (Irony much?) (My kids love Rudolph. They haven’t seen Year). I was OK with Frosty, because everybody knew where they stood with the snowman. Nobody pretended he was actual. (Although there, once again, Santa fucking saves the day. And my sweet daughter, who saw that one at a parents’ night out, absolutely loves the moral.) But the Polar Express goes beyond anything the networks produced in my youth.  It takes the worst of the worst and makes it badder. I’m very sorry both my kids saw it this year, and I hope never to own it on DVD.

Christmas really isn’t so bad for me anymore. Scott’s family is nice. Nice to me and nice to each other. Our gatherings are invariably peaceful. But seeing any of these TV specials (and movies brought to the small screen) just reinforces those years when the whole period of time from Thanksgiving through New Years meant trapped with my family in a house that was smaller than an apartment.  

Right now, I just have to get through this year and deal with the fact that, thanks to viewing the Polar Express, Caroline wants a reindeer-style jingle bell for Christmas. Scott’s in charge of that one. He doesn’t share my conflicts.  Me? I just got done taking Sam on a real train. And I’m gearing up to watch Caroline dance in The Nutcracker. Because those are Christmas specials no fucking television can replicate.

Cut it Off Again

To fully understand this story, you must know two things. One: always growing up, we either had a fake tree or a balled and burlapped one. OK, there was a time in my infancy when we had real cut trees. But Dad decided live trees were a fire hazard in our living room, with its live fireplace, so for years we went over to fakies. (Never mind that for the tree to catch fire, it would have needed to get up and walk more than halfway across the room, then fall over into the hearth.)

Two: I didn’t much like decorating anyway, starting from a young age. The plastic tree pretty well erased what little enjoyment I might have taken from the ritual. The balled and burlapped ones when I was a teen were small, nice looking, and altogether dull. And they took about six minutes to ornament unless we dragged things out with extra light strands.

Oh. And one other thing. I hate Christmas.

The one year I lived completely alone, I put up no holiday decorations, murdered no firs, and watched not a single Christmas special. Bliss. People offered me wreaths and garlands, and I rejected them saying, “I’m finally away from that garbage.”

Yeah. Fast forward a year. I was living with Scott in a different apartment, we were bogged down with grad school, and we had agreed not to fool with decorations. Only I got this stab of guilt because he loves Christmas so much that he watches It’s a Wonderful Life every year. So while he was teaching one night, I went to a tree farm. I needed something small enough to fit into the trunk of my compact car, and easy enough for me to carry up to our apartment. I found one roughly four feet tall, bought it and its stand and muddled the whole kit and caboodle up to the stairs.

Scott came home and, after admiring my find asked, “Why didn’t you put it in a bucket of water if you were waiting for me to put it in the stand?”

“I don’t see why I would have,” I told him. “It was stuck on a post at the lot.”

“Right,” He said, “But when they cut it off again, the base is fresh.”

“What are you talking about?”

He cleared his throat.  “The base of the tree covers with sap if it gets much of a chance to dry out. It won’t drink, then, and it dies faster.”

“Ohhh.”

“I don’t think it really matters,” he went on. “It’s only been a couple of hours…”

“Yeah, only I didn’t let them cut it off again,” I said.

“What?”

“They offered, but I thought, Well that’s dumb. Why would I want to cut it off again?  There aren’t any low hanging limbs. So I didn’t let them cut it off again.”

It goes without saying that we didn’t own a saw. Didn’t even own a drill. What we owned turned out to be a bread knife. A dull bread knife. Scott whittled patiently away at the tree trunk for about an hour, periodically looking up at me and mouthing “Why would I want to cut it off again?” Finally, a sufficient amount of trunk had been removed, and we stood the tree up and added lights.

My mother, worried about our first Christmas, had mailed us a tiny live tree with ornaments for the twelve days of Christmas, had I but known. It was actually darling. Much more appropriate than my lotside purchase. But for a foray back into a tradition I didn’t really enjoy, things could have gone much worse. Besides the running joke the experience engendered, all we wrecked was the bread knife. Indeed, we couldn’t get rid of that right away, so for months after Christmas, we could find that  knife by opening the drawers and sniffing for pine.

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I’m linking up with the crazed fan weekend warrior woman blog hop with this post :)

Post-holiday peace


The doorbell rang at half past four, and Scott and I were gone by quarter ‘til five, before the sitter could change her mind. Even almost two years ago, it was hard to get somebody to watch Sam. Not to mention that she was fifteen and being dropped off by her Dad, and it was snowing in central Alabama.

I don’t remember exactly where we went. Dinner at least. Probably a movie. Anything at all to recover from the holidays. I do recall wandering around Whole Earth (or whatever that store is) one of the few venues that hadn’t simply shut down because of a few centimeters of white precipitation.

Mostly, I remember that when we came home, the kids and sitter had built a perfect snowman, of the variety I could never achieve as a child. I had been avoiding going outside in the disgusting white stuff at all, and the sitter must have bundled them up and taken them out there first thing. I realized only after the fact that I had done this on purpose, hired someone else to play in the snow with my children.

I hate winter. Its relative absence is one of the things I value most about living down South. We rarely get anything resembling sleet, let alone actual flaky matter. And when we do, the governor pretty well has to close the state. So Scott and I left that afternoon to see a town deserted, and we came home that evening to admire the novelty of a white roof and yard, of a man all built up under our front ash tree.

We parked in the garage, paid the sitter, and congratulated ourselves on giving our children an experience without suffering through it ourselves. We sat down inside to enjoy the scene without. And while we watched, once more, the snow began to fall.

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Ah. It is World Market. Now we know. Beam Me Back Up

Red Writing HoodI’m linking this post up with Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood” prompt to begin a holiday related story with ‘the doorbell rang’ and end it with ‘the snow began to fall’.

A Starbucks Kind of Morning

It was a Starbucks kind of morning. I woke up to the sound of my kids yelling at each other, which meant that

1) They had been up before us long enough to get into a squabble (which even for them takes a few minutes) and

2) There was likely something wrong out in the rest of the house.

Oh baby. Little did I know. I popped out the retainer that keeps my bottom teeth from overlapping, pulled on some pants and lumbered out of the bedroom. For the next full minute, all I could say was “Oh my God”. Over and over again. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

oh my godThat is dog food. In the floor.

Oh My God

A LOT of dogfood in the floor.

OH My GodNearly a third of a bag of dog food in the floor.

OH MY GODIn three rooms of the house and just outside the back door.

OH MY GODAnd Sam was skating in it. This last picture was taken after some cleanup had occurred. The fight was because Caroline was afraid of being implicated, while Sam was sure he could cajole the dog into eating it all. (Sorry, even Fudge isn’t that much of a pig.)

When he heard me in the hall, he said, “Quick, hide! It’s Dad!”. Sorry, kiddo. You get Mom. Dad’s a lot nicer.

Since Sam hid, the first person I saw was Caroline, on her hands and knees, desperately trying to pick up each and every crumb. “Not your fault.” Those were my first three words once I’d stopped with the OMGs. “Caroline, sweetie, this is not your fault.”

Sam had some bullshit story cooked up, and after my initial jaw-drop reaction, I managed to keep my voice neutral with him. However, my response did include the words, ‘stop lying and start cleaning’. I no longer think the dishwasher incident was accidental. And I’m really not sure if his sister was involved in that at all, or if she was just an incidental participant afraid of being accused of tattling (a behavior we’re trying to teach her to stop). Sam’s initial lie for the dog food was slick, it was short, and if the evidence hadn’t been staring me in the face, I might have believed it. Once I called ‘bullshit’, the elaborate, obvious untruths started. But at the outset, he could have been talking weather for all the emotion he showed.

Yesterday, he cut up his shirt (not uncommon before meds, but JESUS he’s taking something now) and hurt his friends in the morning. Today, he made this mess so clearly because he thought he would have to stay home and clean up. And cleaning a mess is a reward for him. This kid loves housework. And he hates going to school.

Sorry, Sam. Nice try. We made him clean about a third of it. Caroline volunteered to clean up another portion (started to cry when she thought I wouldn’t let her, even). And Scott and I got most of the rest. But there is still dogfood underfoot and will be all day. All week. He was not entitled to miss school for his mess, and he was certainly not entitled to make Sis any later than the whole thing already did.

So I felt pretty damned entitled myself when we went through the Starbucks drive through. But damn it, the Starbucks guy only wanted to sell me drinks. And none of those came in shot glasses. When I asked him if I could buy back my sanity, he swore it wasn’t lurking anywhere in the store. Damned barista. What does he know anyway? If it isn’t there, after all, where WOULD it be hanging out?

Certainly not at home.

When the Books Close In

Right now, in the room we call our office, there are books. A shitload of them. They aren’t all mine. Aren’t even MOST mine. And they don’t confine themselves to the office. They are everywhere. Here are just a few examples.

Mine:

OK, so I don't have them completely stuffing EVERY corner

His:

And Neither Does He

Ours:

But working together, we're pretty darned close

and Theirs:

And our children have learned well from usAlthough technically, standing up these would give us enough room to also include the ones you can't see that he's thrown behind the bed

And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but there are three full bookcases I didn’t even bother to feature, plus another one that is empty. And then there are the boxes. Boxes and boxes and BOXES

Yes. That's also books. Every boxof the exact same thing.

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a flicker of inspiration at Lightning BugI’m linking this up with The Lightning Bug’s “Flicker of Inspiration” #27, “Here with Me”.

Crash

I’ve had two car crashes in my life, both many years in my past now. The first one was one hundred percent my own fault. Trying to find the museum center in Cincinnati, I drove all around the base of Union Terminal without ever discovering the actual entry road. I had a passenger, a fellow student at the college of Mt. St. Joseph. We wanted the history museum. I can’t remember her purpose, but I was looking for newspaper images of the 1937 Ohio River flood for a short story I was working on.

I got turned around in this warehouse district. Everything was too close together, I didn’t feel entirely safe, and there was a semi-truck unloading in front of a stop sign. Not seeing the sign, I ran it. Not seeing me in time, a pickup truck T-Boned me. Emphasis – this was my fault. The pickup had the right of way. My little blue car was totaled. The truck had a tiny dent.

No real injuries. But also, my Mom was in Louisville, and I had only just gotten my first cell phone. It was around five hours before we got rescued. I sent the tow truck off to wherever tow trucks go, and we finished our research before Mom could pick us up and drop Angela back at campus. (I went home. The whole thing scared me to death.)

The other time, several years later and having gone on to grad school, I got rear ended in Lexington. I was taking Mom out past Keeneland to see the castle on Versailles Road. A lady in her mid fifties was following too closely and slammed into my tail when I stopped suddenly for a red light. (She was sure the light hadn’t changed yet. I still vaguely fear she was right.) In any case, I was not formally responsible for that one. (Though I’ll always fear and wonder.) My little white car was damaged, but not beyond repair. Her teal blue sedan was totaled. So I guess between the two crashes, I came out evens.

But what I remember, really, is how different I felt about the two events.

In that first wreck, although nobody was seriously hurt, I expected nothing until impact. The car had no airbags, so Angela and I were spared the trauma of exploding cloth in the face. And even though the blue car must have only spun for a couple of seconds, those moments felt like a lifetime, one where I could feel reality intruding on a protective little bubble. Although I never believed in my own immortality, until that moment, I never thought I could die in a car wreck, either. In that single rotation, until I crunched into the light pole, I realized I could die any way in the world. It was the closest thing I ever experienced to an end of my youth.

The second time, I saw the lady coming in my rear view. I told Mom, “Hold on.” She thought I was referring to my too-fast stop. She had time to say “You’re OK, honey.” I didn’t have the seconds to explain, so instead I said, “tight” and took my foot off the brake. I jammed the foot back down again pretty much on impact, and that little bit of cynical readiness, of believing the car in my mirror wouldn’t stop in time, saved me a neck injury. Because I didn’t have time to verbalize what was going on to Mom, she got whiplash. And because the air bags in the car behind me exploded, the other driver broke her glasses and the other passenger broke her arm.

Maybe I didn’t come up evens after all. Maybe I actually came out ahead. Knock wood.

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remembeRedButtonThis piece was written in response to this week’s RemembeRed prompt, which asked us to write for ten minutes in response to a single word – “Crash”.

I Guess My GPS is a Politician

My GPS (her name is Samantha) hates left turns. She’ll take me on outrageous adventures around blocks and across highways to avoid turning left. The other day, from my friend Jenny’s house, I ran up to the grocery store for a few minutes. Because the store was on the right, I knew I’d be making a left turn getting back out of the parking lot.

So I knew better than to buy it when, after I’d finished my shopping, Samantha said “Please continue to highlighted route” and drew a little right arrow down the road I’d been on before going in the store.

“Uh-uh.” I told her. “I fell for this yesterday and let you drive me around a tiddly-wink block to cross the street and deal with two extra red lights rather than just turning left. Not buying.” I turned left out of the store and waited.

Samantha said, “Recalculating,” which is her fallback position if I’ve made a choice with which she disagrees. Then, “Please drive 2.1 miles and keep right onto highway I-71 North…”

“No,” I said. “Not that either.” It was another left turn she was dodging, but it was dark, and I was unsure exactly where I had turned right coming to the store, so I wasn’t quite clear on where to turn left returning to the house. In any case, by then I was pretty sure I’d gone too far (the turn was a matter of feet from the store’s parking lot to the light).

Samantha can’t hear me. She lacks the ability to respond to voice commands. But she knows when I’m disobeying her will. Much to Samantha’s discomfiture, instead of getting on the highway, I turned around.  Left followed by right. It earned me two “Recalculating”s.

However, this turnaround put the road I needed on my right, and Samantha’s left turn aversion was thus overcome. She took me back to Jenny’s without further confusion, even going so far as to admit that I would have to make two additional left turns on the way back.

Yes, I know, my GPS needs psychotherapy. I know just about how the session would go.

Therapist: So, Samantha. Tell me about your manufacturer. When did this left turn aversion begin?

Samantha [robotic voice]: I’ve had it since I was first programmed, doctor.

There is no consistency to her behavior. Sometimes, she’ll let us turn left as appropriate for an entire lengthy journey. Others, she’ll change her mind five or six times over the course of one fifty mile trip.  She’s about two years old, and her maps are admittedly outdated, but she does this with roads that have existed on maps for much longer than she has been in existence.

After all my visiting was through, and the time to return to the airport had come, I needed to fill up the rental car prior to returning it. So I needed directions from Cincinnati to a specific gas station in Louisville, and from the gas station to the airport. Samantha said something like this:

“Take exit 8, on right. Turn right. Continue .6 miles to Thornton’s on right.” (The gas station was on the left. But she frequently gets right and left confused, largely to favor the right.)

Scott and I have learned that all instructions (especially those close to a destination) must be taken with a grain of salt, so I checked the route after getting my gas. She said:  “Turn right on Crittenden drive. Keep right and take ramp ahead. Drive 21 miles to ….”

 I turned her off before I followed even one of those commands. I could see the airport’s perimeter fence while standing at the pumps. It was not twenty one miles away. I tried asking her to find an alternate route. When that didn’t work, I just went inside and asked how to get there. The attendant’s directions were a lot shorter, coming in at about  a mile and a half long. Unsurprisingly, there were multiple left turns.

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Samantha’s name derives from the voice options in the Garmin range. Formally, she is “United States. English. Samantha.”

Back from whence I came

Memories Captured: Caught one

CarolineNSam

This is one of my favorite pictures of my kids. It’s from January of 2008. Christmas is over, but we haven’t taken down the tree. We don’t yet know it, but we will be moving from Lexington, Kentucky to Montgomery, Alabama in a scant 7 months. Caroline’s hair is cut into the adorable pageboy she wore until she was almost seven years old. Sam is still all mischief and only limited anger. He and Caroline are roughhousing gently. And they are both delighted to be there, glad to be brother and sister, and happy to smile for the camera.

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Got oneI’m linking this post up with  the Memories Captured project hosted by Galit of These Little Waves and Alison of Mama Wants this.