Rudely awakened by the bleating of my first alarm, which goes off at a ridiculously dark hour. So strange to not feel refreshed and energized after 5 1/2 hours of fitful sleep! First I put the coffee on, now the day can begin. Oh my God, who is that mug shot in my mirror? Nick Nolte? Oh shit, it’s me. Stupid 40s, why do you hurt me? Shower, then put on my pink fuzzy robe. Grab my coffee cup and buckle up. It’s about to get real.
Second alarm is 12 minutes later. That one plays “Don’t Stop Believin’” for extra motivation. I need it ’cause it’s time to wake the children.
It is unfortunate that only one of my children is a morning person. That child, while not thrilled to be getting up, will generally smile at me and get out of bed and possibly start getting ready for school. The other two are in no mood for pleasantries. They are burrowing, they are growling. They can only be lured from their beds with promises of pop tarts. They don’t know that my pop tarts aren’t the real deal, but some facsimile from Trader Joe’s that claims to be “organic” and therefore full of nutrition, right? But really, how can something called a “toaster pastry” be organic, or healthy, or even considered food? That is one of the many mysteries I will not be solving this morning.
After I have thrown food at the kids, I grab my coffee and attempt to make myself look like the competent professional I aim to be someday. Not hungry yet, but I will likely be chowing on trail mix at my desk later this morning. I eat a lot of trail mix for someone who is not particularly outdoorsy. I read and admired Wild, but I’m going to have to go another way with my transformative journey. The way that doesn’t include wildlife or sleeping on the ground. As I dry my hair, I multitask by barking orders at my sons. Is it possible that they will someday figure out that they have to put clothes and shoes on their bodies and brush their teeth EVERY day without my telling them? Hasn’t happened yet. Won’t happen today. They are screaming at each other and eventually one of them throws a hardcover book at his brother’s head and there is more screaming and a little bit of blood. I wipe up the blood, do some consoling and scolding and direct the children to the next steps in the getting ready process. “Brush your teeth or they will all turn green and fall out of your face! I hear that the Tooth Fairy charges YOU to haul away the green ones.”
Oh crap, I’ve got to put on real clothes! Luckily, I have a dress I found at Ross for $14.99 which miraculously makes me look 10 pounds thinner. I don’t know if it’s the material, the cut, or the print, but it’s magical wizardry! I need to find six more of these dresses.
Grab my youngest son’s “sack lunch” as Kindergarten has a field trip today. I have no sacks, so it is in a paper wine bag from Trader Joe’s, because I stock up on Three Buck Chuck when I purchase my organic pop tarts and trail mix. The bag has a wine bottle on one side and a wine glass on the other. Awesome.
Time to go! Each minute that passes after my set to-go time buys me exponentially more minutes in congested Austin traffic.
But wait! Shoes! I tell the boys to put their shoes in a bin by the door every evening. But do they put them there? Occasionally. Right now, five out of six feet are shoed. Nobody can find the sixth shoe. I search around frantically while about a third of the hundreds of “dammits” and “shits” in my head come out of my mouth. I consider that a victory. And I find the shoe under the couch and consider that a victory as well. Roar up to the school in my vaguely-colored minivan and practically push them out of the car. Now it’s time for traffic hell.
Did you know that things are just magnetically drawn to vaguely-colored minivans? Cars come at my van like moths to a vaguely-colored flame. And nobody wants to be behind a vaguely-colored minivan, least of all Dodge Ram drivers. They seem to think that their penises will fall off if a vaguely-colored minivan passes them, so they are on high alert and do their damnedest not to let it happen. If I get cut off or somebody is practically driving up my butt, that person is most often piloting a Dodge Ram. Hey guys, I don’t think the penis thing is true! It doesn’t seem like real science. Please stop trying to kill me.
I live 10 miles away from my job, but it takes me at least 40 minutes to get there. Luckily this morning I have a sweet Neil Diamond playlist going. “I AM, I CRIED! I AM, SAID I!” Hell yeah, Neil. I AM the bitch driving the vaguely-colored minivan you are stuck behind, Mr. Ram. Suck it.
I eventually get to my parking garage, which is three blocks from work. Not terrible, unless it is raining. The thing that IS terrible is the garage stairwell. It smells like a whole lotta urine and at the bottom there is often some sort of weird surprise like old pants, or empty cough medicine bottles, or dead crickets. Today I realize, after exiting the stairwell, that I have forgotten my badge in my car. I have to run back up four flights of stairs, causing me to breathe heavily and suspect I am huffing a urine cloud. That can’t be good.
Alas, the harrowing times aren’t over. The three blocks to work are filled with crazed Austin commuters and I must make my way across the streets like I’m playing a live version of Frogger. I am almost run over by a guy in a Prius who didn’t see me in the crosswalk because my magical dress made me look so incredibly thin. We stare at each other in horror for a second and then he smiles apologetically and gives me a wave, like “Glad I didn’t run you over! Have a nice day!” Whew. I’m finally at my building, the courthouse, where there is usually a line to get through the metal detector at the entrance. Courthouses are one of the few places in Texas where your concealed weapons are not welcome. Never fear, you can still bring them to the state mental hospital or your film studies class at the university, where they are totally appropriate. I don’t make it through without setting off the buzzer and must be “wanded” by a police officer. Not gonna lie, that was the best part of my morning.
I make it to my desk, just barely on time and breathe a sigh of relief. My cube-mate smiles the serene, well-rested smile of a child-free woman and says, “Good morning!” I say, “I’m gonna need to go to Starbucks and drop six bucks on a ridiculous beverage with syrup and whipped cream. Need anything?” I think I deserve it.