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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Critical Thinking

Twice a week, on average, Maj Tom will come home from work, sigh, and say, “Things today did not go as planned.” I usually tease him that he should stop making plans, and he agrees.

That was before today. Today I got to see the amazing black pit that is the planned day of Maj Tom.

Our plan was simple:

- Get up and assembled
- Take my car (’99 Outback) to shop for 120,000-mile maintenance (2000 miles overdue)
- Get my allergy shots
- Get breakfast and work on Christmas cards at coffee shop
- Drop off present #1
- Drop off present #2
- Pick up photos
- Pick up car
- Clean house
- Take a nap

We actually got through step six before everything fell apart. He got a call from work and had to go in to complete some security paperwork. Of course it didn’t work the first time around. He left for another office to convince the two women who needed him to finish the paperwork that, no, he would not come in tomorrow or next week and he was sorry if they were trying to get to Denver, but they needed to stay until they got this figured out. Meanwhile, I was in his freezing cubical, teaching the Creature the difference between pixilated and vector graphics and the fine art of Mine Sweeper.

After an hour and a half, Maj Tom got everything figured out and we went to lunch.

Did I mention it was freezing fog? All day. Visibility maximum 200-yards. And the guy called about the car. $3200. Because the last time we got this thing done, I didn’t go in and let them tighten everything like they told me to.

Went to drop off present #2 to be greeted by my friend in her sweats and the palest face I’ve ever seen on her. She has the flu. She has two sons who are home from school. Her husband works in Denver. She’s very, very tired. Wasn’t Maj Tom surprised to see me come back to the truck with not one, but three boys!

The next eight hours are a blur of cleaning the house while the boys played X-Box and Maj Tom shopped, introducing the boys to Tron, making and freezing pies, asthma attacks, realizing the full meaning of the phrase “he has ADHD and takes a steroidal inhaler so he doesn’t sleep much,” and staying awake so the aforementioned could take his inhaler at one in the morning. Which I’m not sure he needed to do, but the last thing we wanted to do was kill our friend’s child while she had the flu.

Now the house is quiet. And freezing. And I have insomnia. I get up in three and a half hours to go to work. Which Maj Tom has to drive me to.

But my job’s so flexible I’m actually going to start as soon as I’m done with this. The Creature had the time of his life. Hopefully our friend got rest. Maj Tom got something done he won’t have to worry about. And the cold weather gear bag had my old expedition-weight polyprops from my flightline days so I’m not as freezing as I could be.

I’m not going to make any trite statement about things working out for the best because, as far as I’m concerned, “best” means I’d be asleep. And sometimes, things don’t work out at all. I guess I’m just thankful for the small graces that make the impossible bearable. Maj Tom didn’t freak when I came out of our friends’ house with their boys. I didn’t freak when he told me how much the car was going to cost. The boys didn’t freak when dinner was cheap frozen pizza and apples. Isn’t that a sad standard? But sometimes “not freaking” is a pretty significant thing. I am not always this gracious or flexible or selfless. And I’m not actually feeling as selfless as I’m acting. But there’s nothing for it but to pull out the credit card for the car, make sure the boys have cereal when they wake up at 5:30, and hope the Creature and I (who did not get shots) don’t get the flu.

Right now, though, it’s 3:40 and I get to go to work. Which means a nap tomorrow. And tomorrow night is an unexpected open house for friends from Hawaii. And in two days, it’ll be Christmas. I can open that box that’s right now sitting four feet from me, taunting me with its wry smile. And maybe think about Mary, the queen of not freaking out, who didn’t even have a bed, let alone expedition-weight polyprops.

And a friend who always repays emergency sleep-overs.


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