30 March 2015


Now that I spend two to three hours a day on the road, I have a whole new level of frustration with the inefficiencies of driving.

(For reference, the entire drive to the city where I work is on a six-lane divided highway. Each side is three lanes.)

Problem One: people who are afraid to leave the middle lane. 

I get these people. I used to be them, back when I lived in places with only two lanes on each side of a highway. I understand that when you get to a busier part of the world and there are three lanes it is hard to leave the middle lane because in the right lane you might be forced to speed up or slow down or - gasp - move over into a small gap between two other cars or figure out what to do when someone is merging onto the highway. The middle lane feels safe.

This is incredibly inefficient. If only the semis use the right lane, we might as well have a two-lane highway. An entire lane is wasted. If you are the slow car, move into the right lane. Just... I beg you. Please. Stop clogging the entire road by staying in the middle lane.

I have taken to passing on the right. I am now that person who passes on the right. I used to hate that person, and now I am that person. In fact, I have driven for three to five miles in the right lane without ever having to slow down or move over. During rush hour. On a heavily traveled interstate. Passing many cars. Do you know what this tells me? The slow people are not in the right lane. They are in some other lane. People are not using the whole road.

When someone passes me on the right now, this is what I think: I deserved that. I deserved it because I should have been further to the right because I was the slower car and I was not further to the right, so I failed as a driver. 

Problem Two: people who believe that the left lane is their birthright and it shall not be taken from them except by force. 

I am not kidding when I say that there are times when the left lane is full of cars going two miles over the speed limit while both the right and middle lanes are empty except for those two cars waaaaaaaay up there in the distance who might be going exactly the speed limit or might be gone by the time we catch up with them, but everyone in the left lane is afraid to leave the left lane lest they have to touch their brakes if they ever catch up to the (possibly) slower cars. 

My new strategy is to get over in to the middle or even right lane in that situation just to make a point. Sometimes I end up going back to the left lane between the same two cars I was between before. Sometimes I pass a few of those people (on the right). Sometimes I pass all of them because the person in the right lane got off the highway and I have a lane to myself. Any way it works, I have used more of the horizontal space of the road, which is more efficient. Rarely do I lose ground in that situation. (And if I do, so what? It's just a few seconds of slowing down. The overall efficiency of the road was increased by my use of a lane other than the one full of cars.)

Problem Three: people who do not look ahead at what is coming down the road. 

If you are driving along in the middle lane, with no one around but that semi in the right lane that you are getting close to passing, is it not logical that you would look ahead and think, "Oh, there is someone trying to merge/a disabled vehicle/a police officer who pulled someone over. That semi will need to get over into the middle lane so that the other car can merge smoothly/the people getting out of the disabled car have space/the officer doesn't have to worry about his walk up to the car window. I will get over into the left lane so the semi can have the middle lane." (Semi drivers LOVE it when you do this. They get over instantly. Car drivers do not always understand that you moved over so they can move over. Maybe we need more drivers training.)

The job of a driver is to look ahead, see these things, and work to make everything move as smoothly as possible. People who do not move over in this situation are the root cause of Problem One, people being afraid of the right lane, because they trap people in the right lane, and yet they also are Problem One, because they refuse to leave the middle lane either to the right or the left. 

I appear to be alone in that opinion, however. Rarely do I see cars move over so that the right lane drivers can give space to someone merging. I am out there mounting a silent one woman campaign for more efficient roads, but it's not catching on. 

I just want to make a plea for efficiency. It isn't that hard. Stay right except to pass, as the signs say. It's basic. It's common courtesy. It works. And we'd all get to work faster.

//end rant//

26 March 2015

good and bad

Good news: I have my window open. It was 70 degrees today, and it's supposed to be the same tomorrow.

Good news: I don't have to get up until 7 tomorrow morning. (IT'S LIKE A MIRACLE.)

Good news: I have dentist appointment tomorrow, and I can't wait to have clean teeth.

Good news: I gave myself the gift of driving alone today. I jammed out to some embarrassing music. There may have been shameless singing in the car.

Good news: My bike is up and running again.

Good news: I went for a hike on Saturday. It turns out that running the stairs at intervals throughout the day (I'm up to four sets of three, for 12 total ascents) is actually keeping my lung capacity up enough that I can hike. I am impressed.

Bad news: My sinuses are swollen from allergies, which makes my gums swell, and the dentist is going to think I have gum disease.

Bad news: I managed to wedge a splinter of wood deep under my fingernail today. Options: cut off a large amount of fingernail that is still attached to the nail bed to get it out, or let it work its way out and hope it doesn't fester. I am going with option 2. So far.

Bad news: I thought a 15 mile meetup bike ride in the predicted rain was too much on Sunday after hiking on Saturday, so I cancelled. But then it didn't rain, so I went for my own little spin to get used to riding again. Of course I did not wear rain gear, because I wasn't going that far and it wasn't raining. (You can start laughing now.) I ended up soaked to the skin and shivering in the library. When I left after an hour, it was no longer raining, but I was still damp through all my cotton clothes, and I froze to death and now I am dead.

Bad news: sweet potato season seems to be over. This cannot be. What am I supposed to eat for dinner now? I look forward to my sweet potato every evening. 

15 March 2015

all i care about is sleep right now

This time of year, I never do know whether I am getting sick or I'm just allergic to the amazing profusion of flowers that have deigned to join us in the city. It's the right side of my throat. It will not stop with the paining.

I guess I'm about to find out whether this is sick or allergy, because I ran out of elderberry today and I forgot to buy more at the store. 

Either way, I spent just about the entire weekend trying to sleep enough to be well. 

I was so tired on Friday night that I started drifting off in the middle of a conversation with my roommate. We were talking in the hallway, and I opened the door to my room and laid down, mid-sentence, and started to drift off. It might have been a touch rude.

I slept for ten hours that night, and two more on Saturday afternoon, which did not stop me from sleeping 9.5 hours last night, and being ready to go to bed early tonight. 

Early being 9 pm. Yesssssss. This is happening.

Good night.

14 March 2015


Going to the post office seems to be my opportunity to help people. I don't know why. Things just happen there. 

I stopped at the post office a few weeks ago after my carpool dropped me off, to pick up the insane amounts of mail that had collected while I was doing nothing but commute, work, and sleep. As I got back to my car, the guy with the hood up on the Suburban parked next to me asked if I would be willing to give his car a jump.

I started laughing, because I had, not three days earlier, been talking to my dad about whether I need a new battery for my car (short answer: yes. long answer: yes, but I am not willing to spend the money just yet). 

"I'm not sure if my battery is capable of that," I said, but once the engine is going it's fine, of course. We got his Suburban started right up.

Today there was a man desperately asking if he could just buy a couple of stamps from the guy at the PO Box window, because the counter was closed and the machine only takes cards (he had a couple of dollars). He needed the envelope to go out today, he said.

I gave him three forever stamps. (I have a ridiculous number of stamps. Why I have so many stamps is a very good question. The answer is that I kept losing books of them between my computer bag and purse and desk at the place I had an office last year, and then I found them all (I think) and they are now in my purse in excess.)

He tried to give me the money, but I told him to help someone else out someday instead. 

Then I pulled up my hood and walked out into the rain.

On the way to the post office, I had passed a woman lying on a street corner in the pouring rain. She had a flowered pillow under her head, and she lay next to a wheelchair. Two of the downtown patrol people (the quasi-cops) stood next to her. I assume they were waiting for an ambulance or real police.

I sat in my warm car, waiting for the light to change. 

It's strange how people's lives are taking such different paths, right next to each other, I thought.

10 March 2015


Until this week (it's still light when I get home!) it was impossible for me to do anything resembling exercise during the week. 

I feel like I need to keep mentioning: leave home at 6:40 am. Get home by 7 pm. Days. So long.

My carpool and I park a 12-15 min walk from work, which gets us moving a little in the morning and again at the end of the day, but it's not enough. The rest of the day could literally be spent in one spot, except for going to the bathroom and the kitchen. 

That doesn't work for me. Not only am I constitutionally incapable of just sitting for that many hours, but sitting like that kills you slowly. I mean that literally, not psychologically. (Also, when I sit for that many hours, my butt hurts.)

It's been a while since I had such a sedentary job. The work I did for the last four and a half years involved sitting, but I also walked to another building at least once a day, sometimes twice, and often to a further building. I'm not used to sitting for so long, plus there is an hour in the car on either end.

And so, I have developed a strategy. I try, at least five times a day, to run up and down the stairs in my building twice, for a total of ten stair runs per day.

Any other stair climbing does not count toward the ten ascents. If I go downstairs to run an errand and take the stairs back up one floor, that does not count. If I go up two flights to talk to someone, that does not count. It has to be two ascents up all three flights of stairs to count toward the total. 

It's like interval training for the desk worker.

Sometimes it feels a little strange to pass someone on the stairs going down and then run right back past them going up. 

"You are literally running up and down the stairs," someone said to me today. 

Yes, that is what I am doing. Every day. 

I don't always make 10 ascents. Today I only managed eight, because I took a walk to the Bucks of Star over lunch. (I left my chai in my car in Gone West, the horror. I didn't feel awake all morning. It's the ritual and the sugar, not the caffeine. I'm not actually even sure there is any caffeine in the chai powder I use.) 

Yesterday I did twelve ascents. 

In the absence of evening time in which to exercise, this is all that stands between me and heart disease. 

We'll find out whether it's working for fitness when I go for a hike in two weeks. 

08 March 2015


I let myself just sleep in this morning, no alarm, for the first time since I started the 5:30 am weekday wakeup, and it was glorious. I slept until 10:37. I will probably not be able to get to sleep tonight. I feel rested for the first time in 5 weeks, and I needed that so badly. 

I don't care one little bit that I will probably not be able to get to sleep tonight. After all, this is allergy season. And flu season. I will just tell my body, when I go to bed early again, that this is extra sleep to stay healthy. If I can't sleep, I can't sleep. Resting is almost as good, right?

Or so I will tell myself tonight when my body thinks it is 8:30 pm and why are we trying to sleep now again?

04 March 2015


I'm not going to claim that correlation equals causation, but I will say that on Monday, my coworker and I had the same horrible throat pain.

On Monday night, I started taking elderberry syrup.

By Tuesday, he went home sick. 

Wednesday, he stayed home sick. 

Me? I kept taking elderberry syrup, and but for the spring allergies, I feel pretty good.

Like I said, I make no claims of causation here. I'm just pointing out a correlation.