Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding Inspiration in Altercation

I have now started four different posts in the last week. They are all in various forms of completed, yet I am completely incapable of finishing a single one.

This may be writers-block. It may be Seasonal Affect Syndrome. It may be my own mental degradation leading to an eventual psychotic break down where I lose all ability to think function or use punctuation whatsoever

But I doubt it.

This is a basic mind-over-matter situation. Or is it matter-over-mind? My mind is saying,

“No! Your ideas suck. Your abilities suck, Your ability to drive and automobile sucks!”

Even when the universe is against me, I am determined to prove myself wrong.

When the World is Against You, Drive a Big Truck

I got home today a little before 6pm. Annie had class late, so I was excited to change out of my dress digs, leash up Ellie for a brisk walk in the frigid night air, and then settle in for some literary grunt work. I pulled into the lot, trekked up to my second level apartment, and expected to find a little dog, anxiously awaiting my arrival in the kitchen, where I'd left her. I fumbled for the keys, turned the lock, and flipped the switch in the kitchen. As I looked around the room, I found my dog nowhere in sight. I did, however, find the barricade blocking her into the kitchen pushed open. My dog was laying comfortably on my bed.

What a rascal.

After our walk, I decided that it was time for a new gate for the kitchen doorway. I loaded the pooch into the truck, and headed to the store. What was supposed to be a quick trip to Walmart ended with no baby gate. They had ultra-amazing, state-of-the-art, laser-sighted baby gates. They had extra-tall gates for your behemoth babies. But they had no regular old safety gates – the wooden kind that slides back and forth along the notched wood and inevitably gets stuck two inches short of the length you want it to be. So I left Walmart empty handed.

On the way back to the apartment, I pondered where else I might get a gate. I could always go across town to the other Walmart, or Target or Kmart or any of the other department stores in town. As I was weighing those options, I saw Walgreens up ahead. Now there's a novel idea. Walgreens has a bit of everything. They may just have what I'm looking for.

I pulled in and put the truck in park. Commanding Ellie to stay, I dismounted, and headed into the store. Moments later, I exited, sans gate. I clambered back into the truck, resolving to find my dog gate another day. I had writing to do, so I needed to get home. I glanced over my shoulder and began backing out of the spot, cranking the steering wheel to the right. Suddenly I felt a jolt through my system as the truck impacted something behind me. I slammed on the brake, threw the transmission into park, and jumped out to assess the situation.

As I rounded the back of the truck, I was met by a frantic woman pacing back and forth as if bouncing off of imaginary walls.

“I can't believe this! I can't believe this! I know I should have gotten the rental insurance. My car's in the shop, so this is a rental...It's not even mine! I can't believe this!”

As I looked the two cars over, I found the truck unscathed. The back bumper of the woman's Dodge Charger however, did not fare so well. The rear driver side corner was shattered where it had made contact with the truck. She'd pulled her car back into the space she was back from, allowing room to walk between the vehicles. In an effort to calm her down, I said,

“Well, it seems as though we both are at fault here...seeming as though we were both backing out at the same time. There isn't any damage on my vehicle, so I'll leave it up to you – do you want to call the police, exchange insurance?”

She opted for all of the above. I called 911 and explained the situation. Then we sat in our vehicles and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I could feel my writing time disappearing as I sat, listening to underground musicians on Iowa Public Radio. The longer I waited, the more irritated I got. Irritated at the police for their tardiness. Irritated at the woman for not seeing my truck. Irritated at the dog for breaking out of the kitchen, prompting this whole endeavor in the first place. I was just irritated in general.

To Swerve and Protect

Finally the police arrived. I hopped out and approached the car. Upon request, I began proffering up the details of the incident. As I began explaining how we were both backing up and collided, the woman from the car piped up,

“Hey wait a second. No, no, no. That ain't how it happened.” I was just parked here, and he backed into me. I hadn't moved from my spot.”

The irritation that had been simmering in me flashed into unbridled aggression as I processed what she was attempting. The two sides of my brain grappled between my desire to explode in a flourish of epithets about the low-lifed, underhanded, nefarious nature of her snake like words and the more logical side that realized a public outburst such as the one I wanted to perform would lead to more serious police involvement. In the split second I took to weigh my options, the public servant in the car before me interjected,

“It doesn't matter what happened. Your on private property, so we will not be determining fault. Give me your insurance cards and licenses and I'll issue an exchange of information report.”

I was relieved that the officer had stepped in to quell the brewing discourse. But I was also terribly agog. I could not believe that this woman was trying to pin this thing on me! I went back to my car and sat, broiling in the frigid night air. I cranked the heater of the truck, and stared at the red car in my rear-view mirror. As I sat and went over the details again and again in my mind, I began analyzing the scene from every angle, every perspective. I would be damned if this woman tries to throw me under the bus on this. It was her fault for not looking before backing out of the space!

Eventually the officer came to my truck, gave me the report, and wished me luck with the insurance companies.

I finally staggered into my apartment around 8:30pm. After three wasted hours of gate-less gallivanting, I'd made it home. I didn't even feel like writing. Curse you, powers that be! You've sucked all the desire to create from my body! I just wanted to watch syndicated Seinfeld while dissolving into my lumpy futon. Against all desire, I opened my computer.

As I sat, exhausted, staring at the blank screen of my computer, I tried to write. I opened all of the half written blogs that had been swirling around my brain. I typed a word here, a paragraph there. But I had nothing. The universe had sucked me into another doldrum of creative drought. But then I realized it. In stopping me from writing, the universe failed to realize that it'd given me something better. It gave me fodder.

It was hard at first, convincing my brain, rusted with exhaustion, to began cranking again. But as I slogged through the first few paragraphs, it became easier. And soon enough, I'd retold the whole story.

So next time you get writers-block, for God's sake, stay in the house. It's much safer that way.


  1. Menard's has the plastic gates like Mike and I used to have. Pretty reasonably priced too. I think they have the tall wood ones as well.

  2. he should have just sprung for the nice (more expensive one) like the one our friends have, that I would like. If we're going to buy it, might as well buy it once and keep it for a while then buy a cruddy one that will irritate us. AND he would have been right home after Walmart.

  3. agh! i could feel my heart racing and nervous anger build through me as i read that last part! i hate people!

    i totally understand where you're coming from re: cursing every single thing that happened that lead to a really crappy outcome... remember my rant last tuesday?