Category Archives: Righteous Indignation

On Insomnia and Internet-Induced Nightmares

Has the news been keeping you up nights?

I did it again last night. I’ll bet you’ve done it too.

Sleep evaded me, and so I lay in bed for hours with a twitching body and a racing mind. Every time I started to drift off, foul tendrils of worry wrapped around my brain. What’s to come under Cheetohlini the Terrible? Like giant dominos falling in slow motion, each potential disaster landed with an ominous thunk: no more Social Security, no more health insurance for my daughter, no more pension check. No more natural gas to heat our house. No electricity, no running water. War with Russia. Nuclear devastation.

And then the zombies came shambling over the horizon.

OK—by the light of day, I can see that all this spinning of dark doom-dreams is a waste of time. There are currently no reports of zombies in Tacoma, except perhaps for druggies on 6th Avenue. Our furnace still works. Our savings have not been wiped out by a stock market collapse or government confiscation.

I went hunting online for a quote I vaguely recall—was it by Mark Twain? Something about how none of us is truly sane in the wee hours of the morning. I couldn’t find it, but I did find this one by Calvin Coolidge.

“If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.”

Since the election, I spend far too much time on social media and news sites, testing the limits of how much bad news I can tolerate. The needle is definitely in the red zone, and I need to release some pressure before my worry-tank explodes.

On the one hand, when dealing with adversity and worry, my default mode is to do something. Social media alerts me to opportunities to take action, such as calling my elected officials when they’re on the verge of voting away yet another batch of our rights. Public outcry had a lot to do with the reversal of sneaky, destructive doings by Republican congressmen and women recently, and public outcry may be key in limiting the injustices perpetrated by the new kakocracy.

On the other hand, much of the online news is pure speculation about what the neon-orange man-baby might do next. I’ve been watching friends both real and virtual work themselves up into a lather. And I’ll bet they’re not sleeping well.

Where is that perfect balance point between involvement and self-protection? I haven’t found it yet.

For now, I’m limiting my time on social media, and giving my skimming skills a good workout. It’s so tempting to read the latest flare-up of righteous indignation, but too much of that stuff will leave me singed–and it will eat up all my writing time to boot.

On the plus side, cutting back on social media leaves more time for reading fiction. What are you reading these days?

Little Incivilities

It’s raining, blustery, and cold. I pull into the parking lot of the local Safeway. I’m in a bit of a hurry, but who isn’t at five P.M.? I’m in luck! A young woman is loading her groceries into her SUV. She returns her cart to the corral, climbs up into the driver’s seat, switches on the ignition…and sits there. Behind me, a line of cars is building. I scoot to the side as far as possible and put on my turn signal. Gusting winds shake my little sedan. I wait, hopeful.

What is she doing in there? Something on the seat beside her requires her urgent attention, it seems. She’s not tending to a child; in fact, she seems to be alone in the car. Her motor is running, her lights are on, but—no movement. She hunches forward.

Ah. The phone.

Perhaps she absolutely must attend to some urgent business. Maybe she’s just received a job offer, and is consulting her mate or her mom for advice. Perhaps negotiations at the office have broken down, and she must act now to save the project from utter failure.

But how long does that take? It’s going on five minutes now since she climbed into her car.

Maybe she’s just received some tragic news via text, and needs a moment to process her emotions. She doesn’t look very emotional, though. In fact, she appears to be frozen. Is she in distress? Has a huge spider crawled out from under the seat? No, surely she’d exit her vehicle if that were the case. I wait.

Oh, I get it—she’s no doubt waiting for someone who’s still inside the store. Perhaps her friend had to pee, or ran back to grab a forgotten item on her grocery list. I wait. No one joins her.

Most of the drivers behind me have given up by now, have passed me and are heading for the far reaches of the parking lot. But damn it, I’m not going to give up on this prime parking spot that’ll save me from getting drenched in the driving rain. I wait.

Behind me, someone honks. Look, Dude, I left you plenty of room to pass me, and my turn signal’s on. Am I blocking someone’s egress? Nope—all clear. I wait. The SUV non-driver hunches. I give my horn a little tap, just a tiny toot, and then give her the “What’s up?” shoulder shrug. She does not look up from her phone. She does not shut off her engine, to demonstrate her intention to stay put. She hunches. I wait.

Another shopper emerges from the store. Alas, I’m blocking her access to her car. She glances up at the SUV-sitter and shoots me a sympathetic look.

I admit defeat. Clearly, the SUV driver has some sort of extraordinary problem that requires intense concentration. I can’t keep this other driver waiting because, as Mama taught me, it’s rude to keep people waiting.

I drive off, breathing deeply, trying to keep this little mishap from spoiling my day. I find a parking space at the far end of the lot and brave the nearly gale-force winds that rip my umbrella inside out and plaster my glasses with icy rain. Just as I reach the front of the store, I spy the SUV driver—putting down her phone at long last, a carefree expression on her face, and driving off.

I really want to believe there’s such a thing as karma. May Princess I’m-the-Only-Person-in-the-Whole-Wide-World-Who-Matters get what’s coming to her. And thanks to all those who give a thought to their fellow humans and wait to check their phones until they’re no longer holding up traffic. Your mamas taught you well.

A Visit from Princess Peepee

toilet

Hello Blog, long time no see – well, write. November has been a very busy month, and I’ve neglected my writing here. On the other hand, I completed NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) by writing 50,000 words of a novel in November. Woo-hoo! The novel is not complete, but the first draft will be finished by the time I ring in the new year. Since one of my goals for retirement was to devote more time to writing, I’m thrilled with my progress. I’ve also joined two writing groups, and have made the acquaintance of many other scribblers in our area.

The month of November ended with a week-long visit from my mother and daughter. This was their first trip to Tacoma, and we trekked all over town, visiting museums, Pike’s Place market in Seattle, the waterfront area of Tacoma, and many interesting shops. My mother and daughter are tea-drinkers, and where there is tea, there is pee. We were a three-generation tag-team of restroom-goers, helping each other hold bags, coats, and cups – a pretty comical sight.  Today Mom sent me a funny email rant about how difficult and nasty it is to stay clean while using a public women’s restroom – which reminded me of a piece I wrote a while ago about an encounter with the very pinnacle of incivility, is Princess Peepee.

If you’re female, you’ve met Princess Peepee, or have at least seen the evidence of her – er – passing. Her mommy taught her that public toilet seats harbor germs that will poison her, shriveling her precious lady parts and giving her a permanent case of cooties. (Think about it, Chica. Unless you’re very clumsy or practicing some exotic sitting position, your precious lady parts don’t even touch the toilet seat.) But never mind – Mommy taught Princess Peepee to squat, to hover, to release her bodily fluids from on high. OK, fine – I’m all for personal freedoms, as long as they have no negative effect on others. But germaphobic Mommy’s instruction was incomplete – or, perhaps Mommy and Princess Peepee believe that they are the only human beings who count in the whole, wide world.

You see, Mommy forgot to remind Princess to clean up after herself. It’s really quite simple, your highness: just ball up some toilet paper and wipe off the seat until it’s dry. If you have also blessed the floor with your leavings, wipe that up too. Because you see, Princess Peepee, when you leave the seat wet, even a paper toilet seat cover won’t save me from getting wet. And in what universe, oh precious and special one, is it fair that I should have to clean up your mess, you disgusting, thoughtless, conceited slob?

I once had the great pleasure of confronting Princess Peepee in the flesh. This particular princess was young, attractive, expensively dressed and groomed, and deeply engrossed in popping her gum. She emerged from a stall and I entered, then saw the piss-soaked seat she’d left behind. Though my bladder was calling loudly, the call for justice was louder still. I approached the mirror where she was touching up her lipstick and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey Princess,” I said, loudly enough for all to hear, “you must have some real entitlement issues.” She gaped at me, perplexed and a bit alarmed.

“What?” She wrinkled her nose at me.

“You peed all over the seat and just left it for the rest of us to clean up.”

Princess made that dismissive, tongue-sucking sound that teens make and said,  “That wasn’t me.”

“Yes it was.” I stared at her. So did everyone else waiting in that restroom, but not to admire her flowing locks or expensive platform shoes. From the long line behind me I heard giggles, and someone muttered, “That’s right.”

Her majesty rolled her eyes and attempted to sashay out of there, but her gait was unsteady. Princess Peepee had toppled from her throne.

May your holiday shopping be blessedly free from sprinkles – unless they are found on sweet treats.