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Road Troll

It happened this morning. I’m not sure if the young man thought I was someone else or just didn’t like the fact I was driving slow. But there were two lanes and very light traffic at that point so he could easily have gone around.

Instead, he starts honking and holding his cell out the window to take pictures of me. He passes me on the wrong side and steers so purposely close I think he’s going to hit me. I get behind him just long enough to write down his license number. Then I slow down and let him get way, way ahead. I think he’s gone, but three blocks later I reach a stoplight. It’s green, yet he’s parked so I can’t pass. He jumps out of his car and advances on me, laughing like the Joker from Batman. He’s young, late twenties or early thirties, dressed like a businessman, wearing designer sunglasses, and driving a nice SUV. But the SUV has window stickers of guns and other symbols that look political but that I don’t recognize. I keep my windows up and grab my cell. I’m hoping he’ll think I’m calling 911. I don’t actually call. I’m a cop’s wife. I try not to waste police time. He gets back in his car and takes off.

Again I let him get way ahead and think it’s over. A couple of blocks ahead I see what I’m pretty sure is his vehicle turning into a Walgrens. I think “Okay, now it’s really over.”

Nope.

I’m parked at an intersection waiting on a light and he pulls up beside me. He leans out his window, taking my picture, laughing that Joker-laugh.

Now I’m really scared. I think it’s safer to be behind him where I can see him rather than have him keep circling around to harass me. So I get behind him but let him get blocks ahead again.

He slows down to force me to get closer (one lane, heavy traffic), then he slams on his breaks. Again, he leans out the window to take pictures and grin. He’s enjoying himself. I keep looking at those guns on his back window, wondering if he has real ones in his vehicle.

I get into a turn lane to try to shake him. He follows me. My hands on the steering wheel are shaking. I’m near home. There’s no way I’m letting this guy follow me home. If he plans to shoot me, I’ll make him do it in front of witnesses. Yes, I know. Overly dramatic thinking. But your mind does that when you’re scared.

So I pull into a 7-Eleven. My heart races as I realize he has followed me. I park. He pulls up beside me. I dial 911. He jumps out of his car, joker-laughing and prancing around my car, taking pictures. I keep my windows rolled up, my expression neutral. I don’t interact with him. I don’t want to give him any excuse to hurt me.

He realizes I’m on the phone with 911. He starts yelling “Why are you following me!”

I suppose that’s for the benefit of his video camera. Or perhaps for the 911 operator. When he realizes I’m looking at his car, describing it to the 911 operator, he runs back to his car, jumps in, lowers his passenger side window. He lifts his sunglasses and waggles his head at me in a final Joker laugh, his tongue hanging out. Then he takes off fast.

The 911 operator tells me she has dispatched an officer in the direction he’s heading. I sit in the store parking lot until I’m sure he’s not coming back.

As I drive home I wonder what happened to this businessman to make him feel helpless. Was it a lost job? A negative client? A domestic problem? Something large or something a normal person would consider small?

What made him feel so insignificant and powerless that he needed to select a random woman off the street to frighten? I find myself praying that no one’s daughter ever crosses this man’s path in a secluded place on a day when he’s again feeling the rage of his own deficiencies. It’s a long time before I stop shaking.

At no time during this did I respond to him. I did my best to keep a neutral face and neutral body language throughout. Not an easy thing when you’re scared. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t honk or motion at him in any way. I never rolled down my window or gave him any other feedback. That is how I deal with people who behave in a way that seems mentally unbalanced to me. I simply give them no response because I feel that’s usually the safest course. No fuel. In my life that’s what’s always worked best for me.

Anyway…Be careful. There are people on the road who select victims at random. They’re not virtual trolls, they’re real ones.

Gone

Life’s been happening and I’ve been a little overwhelmed by it. The most recent knock was a virus that ate the five novels I’ve been working on. Yep, they were supposedly stored safely in the cloud. It got them anyway.

I’m grieving that and dealing with family members with health issues. So this girl’s gone and I’m not sure when, or if, I’ll return. But before I go, I want to thank all of you who have followed this blog for your loyalty and your patience. You’re awesome!

I wish you a terrific finish to 2014 and a New Year full of Great Joy and Success!

Goodbye to Summer

Wow! That went by fast. But it was a great summer.

The kids were home. That always makes me happy. Too happy maybe, since I wasn’t getting much done with all the wonderful distractions in the house. So I rented a tiny offsite office for two months. It was cheaper than office-ing at Starbucks (those drinks are way too tempting and can get expensive) and there were no calories to regret at the end of the writing day. I’m back home now, but I may do the same again next summer if the kids come home. Which I hope they will.

I also spent a week this summer on a writing retreat where I learned a lot about my creative self. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that I can be creative more hours a day IF I build in longish breaks for moderate exercise. For me, exercise not only prevents the tight hamstrings and sore fingers that haunt writers, it also allows the brain some down time and prevents burnout so that I don’t end up zombie-staring at the keyboard. Taking exercise breaks means I can sustain the creative process longer.

This summer Steve and I also celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. On a blisteringly hot day we went to the ski shop to rig ourselves out for the snow vacation we’re planning this winter. Who’d have thought trying on parkas in 100+ degree weather could be such fun. Thanks for so many happy years, Sweetie. Laughing and cuddling through life with you is a blast.

So all in all it’s been a really good summer. But the kids are back at college now. Boots and sweaters are back on the store shelves and today the heat finally broke. We even got a little rain – Texas’s version of manna from heaven. I’ve thrown open the windows and I’ve been cleaning house and rearranging furniture all day. I may even go outside and wash the summer dust from the windows.

So Goodbye Summer. Welcome Autumn!

Starting Something New

I’m on pins and needles.

In my May post I listed all the things that were happening in May and said that when I got past those events (which were wonderful!) I’d have the rest of the summer to write and sip mint tea on the porch. Well…

It’s summer. I haven’t written in a week. There’s been no mint tea on the porch. As usual I’m running around putting out various domestic fires (nothing earth shaking but all important to someone in the moment) and what I need to do for me is getting lost.

So my choices are: continue to eat flies all day for the rest of the summer hoping I can eat my frog in autumn when kids return to school…OR BUG OUT! (pun intended).

Banking on “getting it all out of the way” in May so I’d be free to write this summer didn’t work. The spring stuff was simply replaced by new summer stuff. If I wait for the summer stuff to end and the autumn peace to arrive, the summer stuff may simply be replaced by new autumn stuff. Because that’s the way life works. Mine anyway.

Here you may be thinking: just grow a spine and say NO! to all the distractions. But here’s the thing. The word no comes easy as pie for me to everyone except my husband and children. I so love saying yes to them! I just can’t help myself. So I need to be someplace where, for a few hours a day, the only person present to say yes to is myself.

That’s why I’m on pins and needles. This morning I have an appointment I hope will change the course of my summer – maybe even my life. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

At my husband’s urging, I have an appointment with a real estate agent who I hope is going to locate an inexpensive office for me to work in – far away from all the wonderful yet derailing distractions of my home. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Note to Self:

Never discuss religion or politics with your college-age children or there will be tears. Lots and lots of tears. And they will all be yours.

May already?

The first four months of 2014 have flown by and May seems set to do the same.

I’ll be attending the Don Maass and Les Edgerton workshops, DFWcon, my eldest son’s college graduation (yay!), celebrating several birthdays, moving the youngest out of her dorm and back home for the summer, sending her off to study in Germany, sending middle son off to Air Force ROTC Field Training, and that’s just the first half of the month. But it’s all happy stuff, so life is good.

In June DH and I are headed to Alabama for a few days and then the summer stretches before me full of lazy days of writing and sipping mint tea on the porch. At least that’s the plan. But my plans and real life don’t always parallel, so we’ll see.

Hope your May is Marvellous!!! And your summer is all you hope for!

Life Begins at Forty

As my mother and her siblings reached 40, they were fond of repeating the phrase “Life begins at 40”. It was from the title of a self-help book their parents (my grandparents) kept in the house while they were growing up.

My Uncle Charlie, one of the youngest of the seven siblings, was a great joker. Every time one of his brothers or sisters would say, “Life begins at 40”, he would laugh and say, “Yeah, and ends at 41”. The year Uncle Charlie turned forty-one he died of a heart attack.

He was much loved and is dearly missed.

As a child, I remember being struck by the fact that it was almost as if he’d incited his own death by repeating that phrase so often, even though it was just in jest. Perhaps for that reason, I’ve always paid attention to what I tell myself about myself and my life. I try to be careful not to put my attention on negatives, but to keep it focused to the best of my ability on positives.

And yet despite practicing this positive self talk since I was about ten years old, there are still times when I catch myself saying all the wrong things about myself to myself and I must correct course.

What about you? Is there self talk you do that could use a little editing?

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