Coffee heat rising

Epistle from the Church’s Reception Desk: You Know You’ve Been Stuck in a Rut Too Long When….

…driving through your city’s downtown is like visiting some other planet! 

😀

Our city council likes to describe lovely Phoenix as a collection of “villages,” a metaphor whose purpose always sorta escaped me. But today it occurred to me…they could be right.

This morning before hitting the volunteer desk down at the Church, I had first to drive ALLLLLLLL the way to the far West Valley to pick up my lab report from the eager-to-operate dermatologist over there.

Then drive home, copy her report and write a note to MayoDoc explaining what OrthodontistDude said (viz.: don’t let any mere dermatologist slice up your face…get a plastic surgeon to do it) and expressing, as subtly but also as obviously as possible, the possibility that she might refer me to such a creature. Then get back in the car and drive and drive and drive and drive to the far East Valley to deliver this message. Then drive and drive and drive and drive to get back to the church, for whose activities I was (as announced to my coworker) running late.

It was the most extraordinary experience, driving from west side’s acres of former cotton and corn fields, now sprouting houses, CLEAR ACROSS THE CITY to the farthest eastern reaches of Richlandia! Because…I had to drive through downtown Phoenix, a garden spot I haven’t visited in a good 20 years. Or more. Then, once on the far side of those precincts, up Scottsdale Road through the fields of the now much updated and re-commercialized tourist traps.

The city of Px has changed SOOOO much as to be — seriously: no exaggeration — unrecognizable.

I used to work downtown, for a law firm that occupied three floors of a high rise. And DXH and I lived for about 15 years within walking distance of that small-town business district, in a much-gentrified antique central neighborhood. So, I knew the downtown area well.

Today the freeway was up-gescrewed, so I got off just to the west of the downtown commercial district and elected to cross the city on a main drag called Van Buren Street. This was my old stomping grounds: the Firm was located two blocks to the north, and this also was the route I used to take driving  across the city from our classic antique house to the university in Tempe. So I know it well. Or…so I thought.

What I found was not my mother’s route to Tempe…that’s for sure!! 😀 The entire downtown area has been SO MASSIVELY TRANSFORMED as to be unrecognizable!

Old bars and whorehouses are gone. So are most of the old office buildings and many of the old high-rises. These have been replaced by huge, shiny new high-rises, And the old SROs and dives? Mile after square mile of brand-new, very fancy mid-rise apartment buildings. A vast athletic arena covers blocks. The scary slums around the mental hospital: gone! Replaced by more apartments.

This goes on for blocks and blocks and blocks. Parts of it look like San Francisco; some of it reminds you of the higher-tax regions of L.A. What a thing to see!

Seriously: except that the roads follow the same routes, it was like driving through some other city.

driving driving driving…eventually I come to Scottsdale Road and turn north for the miles-long journey toward Shea Blvd. Out of the light-industrial low-rent area, northward into touristy downtown Scottsdale. And my gosh! Same story! It’s like the whole damn place has been demolished and rebuilt! Only a few of the buildings look familiar. Most of them are newer, snazzier, and ritzier!

driving driving driving driving…finally hit Shea Blvd. All of the formerly upscale housing developments along that route are now…MORE upscale! Walled, gated “communities,” not mere housing tracts. Holee moleee!

It’s a positive development…I guess. Goes a way toward explaining why property values are exploding in the’Hood. Any place that’s centrally located and middle- or upper-middle-class is going to inflate wildly in price, with all that fancy architecture and expensive real estate surrounding us.

But y’know what? When I got home to the ’Hood nestled between Conduit of Blight Blvd and Gangbanger’s Way, it struck me that our neighborhood has also gentrified madly…to the point where it is MUCH nicer and much more pleasant than snooty Scottsdale!!

 Those overpriced stick-and-styrofoam tract houses with their orange cement tile roofs do not hold up well to the passage of time: surely not as well as slump block and shake shingles. Our houses look soooooo much better and our irrigated yards with their towering green trees look sooo much prettier than those desert-landscaped McMansions…it rather defies belief!

And herein lies the point: When you live in your own “village,” an enclave of a vast urban jungle, you have your own aesthetic, your have your own ethic, you have your own shopping venues, social resources, churches, cops, veterinians, yard dudes, dogs, cats, and funny-looking neighbors. You have, in short, everything you need within arm’s reach. You don’t even notice the change going on in nearby “villages..”

No wonder the fix-and-flippers are having frenzies grabbing up our houses and selling them for three times what they’re worth… Who’d’ve thunk it?

Shopping Adventure in the Absence of Instacart…

In the “How Dumb Can You Get?” department, today I believe I scored a gold medal for Olympic how-dumbness.

This morning I decided nothing would do but what I must drive up to Costco so as to purchase, among other things, two pair of size 12 blue jeans in my favorite brand: Gloria Vanderbilts. My usual size 8s and 10s no longer fit, after the extended period of sedentary solitude occasioned by covid confinement and then by the broken shoulder.

I had tried to put an order through Instacart to achieve this purchase, but ran into an Olympic-sized snafu, and a chucklehead who barely spoke English as their excuse for customer service. After this jerk put me on hold with obnoxious Muzak blasting into my ear at high decibels, I hung up and went on about my way.

Now, if you had been here, you would’ve reminded me that today is Good Friday. And yes, that would be the Friday before Easter, the first big holiday we’ve had in over a year for which large numbers of people imagine that it’s probably-sort-of-kind-of safe to get together with their families. Right?

Pissed as hell with Instacart — whose employee has now become aware that I have checked out and has begun to harass me with nuisance telephone calls — I clamber into the dog chariot and head on up toward Costco, over Phoenix’s homicidal surface streets.

There must’ve been a thousand people inside that store along about 11 AM. I exaggerate not. This store has an enormous parking lot and almost every space was filled. I parked next to a sporting goods store that occupies the pad just to the north of the Costco’s. Under the best circumstances, any given Costco is crowded and hectic. But when the stores are really crowded, they morph into Sites of Nightmare.

So there I am inside this concrete cave trying to get from point A to point B through churning mobs of people, each one of whom believes that she or he is the only person in the place  and navigates accordingly.

Turns out that it was a good thing the scheme to deploy an Instacart runner was foiled. If any such soul  had been sent forth into the fray to try to find a pair of Glorias, they would’ve been flummoxed. Apparently, Costco has decided to quit carrying Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, one of the very few brands that accommodates the rear ends of aging women. All that was left were the sad dregs of their last shipment, clearly meant to be the LAST shipment.

Hell and damnation!

Eventually I decided to experiment with a couple pairs of Buffalo jeans by David Bitton. These are made of stretchy tencel — no, not the desired denim, but the stretch might give them an outside chance of sorta-maybe-kinda fitting. I buy denim jeans for a simple reason: I do not want to live in stretchy athletic tights! I like saggy baggy comfortable jeans. That is why I like Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

But…whatEVER.

An hour of banging from one wall to the next wall to the next wall to the next wall inside the Costco eventually elicits the dog’s treats, a roast chicken, no make-up of any interest whatsoever, a bottle of cheap Portuguese wine, a box of grapes, a box of Campari tomatoes, a chunk of cheddar cheese, a chunk of blue cheese, a box of blueberries, and…some other stuff, I’m sure. A lengthy stand in line transfers ownership of these items to me and finally I am out the door.

Escape into one’s vehicle is most surely not escape from the madding hordes — this is being, after all, lovely Phoenix: capitol of the lunatic Arizona driver.

I’m making my way home by surface streets, electing not to risk my fellow homicidal drivers’ lives with a one-handed jaunt down the freeway. Incredibly, the southbound I -17 has been detoured onto Conduit of Blight Boulevard! No kidding: four lanes of 70-mile-an hour-traffic is pouring onto a surface street best described as “annoying” during its better moments.  Conduit of Blight is aptly named in the map of my personal geography. It passes through some of the dreariest agèd ticky-tacky in the city. Naturally, the residents are out and about, and — typically– one of them is tooling along blasting everyone around him with his boombox. Literally, the bastard has got the thing blasting so loud that even with all the windows in my car closed, each THUMP from his bass speaker causes my rear-view mirror mirror to vibrate!

This lovely serenade follows me all the way down to Gangbanger’s Way, where I hang a left, dodge away from the bastard, and whip into the ‘Hood. This, need I remind you, is why I do not carry a pistol in my car.

What a place!

Life in Outer Dystopia

So yesterday (is it today already?) I spent OVER FIVE HOURS traipsing miserably from pillar to post, accomplishing…what?

No WAY can you get there from here…

The MacBook, upon which I depend for almost all things computerese, croaked over. So, Apple having closed its store within reasonable driving distance of my house, I had to drive way to Hell and Gone to a tony shopping center called Scottsdale Quarter: 14.5 miles. Add to that the 3+ miles in the other direction, over to the north side of the Metrocenter ghost mall, and you get about 30 miles round trip through the city’s wacksh!t traffic, in which approximately one in every ten drivers is crazy as a loon or dumb as a post.

Before heading east for Scottsdale, I had to drop by the FedEx store at Metrocenter — on the far side of the I-17 — by way of sending a paper(!) manuscript back to a client. This annoyance, because the lines at the post office are so long you’ll stand there for 20 or 30 minutes to get a package weighed, buy stamps, and drop it in the outgoing mail. You actually save time by driving out of your way to go to a store that will sell you the postage. This junket, then, took me six miles out of my way.

Wherever you’re going in the dystopic Valley of the Sun, you can’t get there from here. During this endless junket, I ran into eight roadblocks. If the drive weren’t long enough, it stretches toward eternity while you grind your way through traffic jam after traffic jam. The roads, thanks to all these afterthought asphalt-digging programs and lowest-bidder asphalt-laying, are potholed and ridged every inch of the way. To any drive you choose to make — near or far — you have to add about 10 minutes to your projected driving time, because somewhere along the way you will come to a stop and sit. And sit. And sit.

This time I had enough sense not to park my car in Scottsdale Quarter’s underground labyrinth. Instead left the car across the street in Kierland Commons’ parking lot.

Scottsdale Quarter — to say nothing of the glass box that is the Apple store there, with its ear-splitting ambient noise echoing off the glass and metal walls — is not a pleasant place to spend your time. It is crowded, and not crowded with nice people: the inhabitants by and large are snobbish parvenus, rude and obnoxious. Even outside, the noise level is headache-inducing. Lest any of the customers be disturbed by a moment of introspection, SQ’s designers have kindly lined the sidewalks with fake rocks from which blare a peculiarly annoying type of faceless Muzak. Everywhere you turn, the racket is brain-banging.

Finally, though, I reach the Apple store. And yeah: naturally, they had done exactly what I told them NOT to do: erased the operating system and updated it with the latest and greatest. And by the way deleted the connection to DropBox, which they refuse to deal with because they want you to store your data to iCloud, not to their competition.

My resident Word program will not run on an OS later than Sierra. I went around and around and around with the tech explaining this to him, and explaining that because I am a crazy old lady I do not want my clients’ work in Microsoft’s Cloud, nor am I going to pay Microsoft an expensive subscription for the privilege of having to work in their Cloud. So, when I showed up there after a second nightmarish drive and found they had done exactly what I had asked them not to do, I threw one of my more colorful shitfits, a phenomenon that I am capable of generating with élan.

They agreed to restore the system, but…but…did I have a backup? Of course, they thought I did not. But luckily, I hadn’t taken the external drive that contained the most recent Macbook back-up out of my car, and so yes, it was sitting in the parking lot across the street, in the Kierland Commons shopping center.

Retrieving it required me to walk a quarter mile and cross Scottsdale Road, a huge and hectic thoroughfare, at signals that do not stay green long enough for a rabbit to get from one side to the other at a dead run. But to their amazement I traipsed out, snabbed the thing from the car, and resurfaced in their glass box bearing a two-day-old back up.

So supposedly they have now recovered my system. Tomorrow I have to traipse out there again and pick it up. And you may be sure — because it never fails — that the thing will be totally, utterly, irretrievably fucked up. And you may be sure I will have to spend at least an hour, possibly much longer, trying to get reconnected to DropBox, a chore that is likely to be a horror show of the first water.

Because I still have an antique iMac running, a device I use as a TV substitute, Time Machine has made current backups of all my data. And I can reach DropBox from the iMac. But I don’t do my work on the iMac: my old bones ache so much that it hurts to sit in an office chair in front of a desk for hour on hour. Or, come to think of it, for minute on minute. I have the MacBook so that I can sit in a chair that doesn’t cripple me while I perform the endless work I do for my clients.

Okay, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, when I fell face-first on the concrete pavement the other night, I scratched my expensive pair of glasses. So…oh goodie! Now I get to buy a new lens.

I had gone to Costco a few days ago to pick up a copy of the new prescription I had made there last November. Meanwhile, the fancy optometry shop that dispensed these fancy glasses was priced out of the AJ’s shopping center where it resided for many years and has moved around the corner on Camelback, where you have to navigate around the damned train tracks and where a restaurant reserves most of the parking spaces with posted threats to tow your car if you leave it there.

So I decided to go to the expensive store La Maya frequents for her glasses, which lies tangentially on my homeward-bound way.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares and finally arrive at this glasses place. Get into the cramped parking lot, find several empty parking spaces in front, park, jump out, prance up to the front door…which is LOCKED. They’re closed. On Monday, at midday.

So I and drive and drive and drive and drive some more and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers some more and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares some more and finally arrive at the new venue of my old glasses place. Trot in, show the scratched lens and the prescription to the guy, and ask if they’ll replace the lenses.

Sure, says he. That’ll be $395.

Got that? Three hundred and ninety-five dollars for a pair of plastic lenses. No, that doesn’t include the frames.

Holy sh!t, said I. So it’s back to Costco!

By then I was too tired to make the 11-mile return trip to Costco to order up a pair of dowdy glasses from their optometry department. But I will have to stop there on the way home, tomorrow, from what I expect will be an upsetting trip to pick up the MacBook, which we are told is ready to go.

Right.

Imagine. $395 for a pair of fuckin’ plastic lenses, and they don’t even have to write the prescription.

I may stop by Sassy Glasses — La Maya’s favorite joint — to see if they’ll make the lenses for something within reason. The frames were wildly expensive and they’re my favorite glasses of all time. I really, really don’t want to have to throw them away. But obviously I can’t afford four hundred bucks to replace the lenses. Costco does not make lenses for this kind of specialty glasses, and so if Sassy Glasses can’t do the job for a reasonable price, then it’s back to the ugly old, clunky old plastic glasses from Costco.

Life in beautiful uptown Phoenix. Life in Dystopia.

Life in Dystopia

Today I needed to accomplish three fairly minor errands:

  • Take the clogged-up vacuum cleaner to the repair shop to have it cleaned out;
  • Go to the post office and mail tax returns, return receipt requested;
  • Buy a new mattress to replace my 15-year-old number, which is sagging on both sides.

How easy does that sound, eh? None of these places is very far away. It should take maybe an hour, an hour and a half at the outside, to accomplish these small chores.

And how much time did it take?

Three hours of miserable, frustrating running around. I left around 11 a.m. and got back at almost 2 p.m.

First, to the post office, the one over by the freeway on the other side of Conduit of Blight Blvd. There I found a packed parking lot and a line extending to the back of the big reception area and curving along the wall.

Okayyyyy. Got better things to do than stand around with a sore back watching postal employees move as though they were swimming through molasses. Turn around, walk back out, climb in the car. Back out of the space, with  no one coming. A moron down the aisle can’t stand it, so floors the gas pedal and shoots around behind me. Fortunately I’m watching and so see the bastard coming. He misses me.

Schlep across the freeway and through a depressing slum, therein to visit the fabric store/vacuum cleaner repair store. Go to the front counter, where I ask about vacuum repair. (The place is primarily a fabric store for quilters.) Am told to go to the back of the (very large) store.

Walk to the back of the store. They tell me to go to the front counter.

Walk to the front counter. There I’m told they don’t repair Shark vacuums because they can’t get the parts. “That’s why they’re so cheap,” says the broad behind the counter. If you think I’m going to replace this thing with one of those Mieles you folks are peddling, you are FREAKING NUTS. They’re evidently lying, because at Amazon customers remark on having this, that, or the other item repaired on their Sharks, and Amazon sells Shark parts. But if the only repair shop in town refuses to fix it, my sole alternative is to buy a new one, which probably wouldn’t cost much more than paying those clowns to fix it. Ask them if they’ll toss the thing, and they say sure. I figure they’ll fix it and resell it, but WTF.

Now for another try at the post office.

There’s another PO near the ’hood, about the same distance from the Funny Farm as the one over in the blight by the freeway. This one is usually less busy; it’s better staffed, and the regulars there seem to be more competent than the bunch over by the freeway. So, traipse north of Gangbanger’s Way into Sunnyslope, park a good long distance from the door, and without much hope, trudge into the building.

And yup: the line there is even longer! People are backed all the way up to the door, a good 20 customers standing there looking bored and annoyed.

Fuck.

Drive down to the Albertson’s shopping center. There one can find a Matchbox Car store that has a postal counter.

“Can you send these envelopes return receipt requested?”

“Sure. Fill out these forms.”

No line. Zero waiting. Nil aggravation. Why didn’t I think of this at the outset? I must be getting senile.

Head on down to the Target, thereinat to buy a new Shark. To get there, I have to navigate endless signals around the accursed train tracks, playing touch-tag with the Bum Express lightrail all the way down to the Target/Walmart/Costco shopping center.

This Shark-purchasing task used to be easy. Not so anymore!

First time I bought a Shark at the Target, they had one (1) model. No hassle. Next time, they had two (yes, just 2). Not much of a hassle there, either. But today? They had a freaking can-can line of Shark vacuum cleaners! What exactly were the differences among these contraptions is unclear. Which is what and why? I decide to go home and look them up on Amazon, where I can at least see the rants and raves of random consumers.

Pick up a bag of tennis balls for the dog, walk to the front of the store, where the longest wall in the whole huge building is lined with checkout stands…most of them closed. Two self-serve stands way down on the south end and one self-serve stand way over on the north end are open…and vacant. Two (2) cash registers staffed by humans are serving lines of customers backed halfway to the cosmetics department.

Well, I figure, if I have to order from Amazon, I might as well buy the tennis balls there. Out the door.

On the way to the car, I reflect that Costco, which is right next door in an adjacent parking lot, vets its products pretty well. They have in the past carried Shark vacuums. If they have one, it’s probably the one their buyer thinks is the best.

Okay. Move the car a quarter-mile, traipse into the store, and track down the vacuums.

Yea verily, they do have Shark: only two models, each well rated at Amazon. I buy the one that looks most similar to the one I just tossed. A hundred sixty dollah!

Cheap, eh?

Peruse the mattresses. See a couple that will do the job nicely. Confirm that you can’t buy them there and arrange for delivery: you have to go online to give them your money and beg them to deliver the thing.

Having been told this before, I’ve watched for mattress stores as I’ve been trudging around the city. These seem to have been put out of business by Tuft & Needle, a popular mail-order product that has two stores in more affluent parts of the Valley.

Tuft & Needle, I’m sure, is wonderful. But their mattresses are made of foam. I’ve never cared for foam mattresses. Sorry, I may be retrograde (again), but I want an innerspring mattress, dammit! Besides, even if their mattresses are miracles from heaven, they don’t deliver and cart off the old stuff. The mattress I’ve got is so heavy I can’t even rotate it by myself, to say nothing of hauling it out to the alley.

No mattress companies. The department stores that used to carry mattresses have closed. WTF?

So I give up and figure I’ll have to order a Sealy or something from Costco’s online site. And lemme tellya…I really, truly, do NOT want to buy a mattress sight unseen.

There’s a Penney’s next door to that Costco, but the area is so downscale I think I’d do better to schlep to the Penney’s in Paradise Valley, or go over to the Whole Foods shopping center in the Biltmore area to see if the mattress store that used to be there is still holding forth. Choices are likely to be better in either of those garden spots.

Annoying.

Think of that: three hours to mail two envelopes and buy a (relatively) cheap vacuum cleaner.

The other day I was chatting with a friend about the dystopic nature of life in Our America. I think this kind of experience is emblematic of that dystopia.

Consider: in the name of political correctness, globalism, and corporate greed, what do we have?

  • Washers that do not wash clothes
  • Dishwashers that do not wash dishes
  • Wall ovens that burn themselves out if you set them to “broil,” to say nothing of trying to use the self-clean feature
  • Cheap foam mattresses sold to us as the be-all and end-all of sleeping luxury
  • Water-saving toilets that have to be flushed three times each time you use them — assuming they’ll flush at all
  • Water spigots that dispense water at a slow drizzle
  • Water heaters that cost $800
  • Steak that even fairly affluent Americans cannot afford
  • Farm-raised fish full of filth and chemicals
  • A steady diet of unhealthy, processed food
  • Cars that cost three times as much as your first home cost
  • Weed killers that do not kill weeds
  • Medications that promote drug addiction
  • Doctors whose goal is to get you hooked on medications of all varieties
  • Homeless drug addicts swarming the street corners and living in our alleys and yards
  • Prisons run by corporations that don’t even provide basic healthcare for the hordes of minor offenders warehoused there
  • Schools like prisons, where children are regularly terrorized in bullet-dodging drills
  • A plague of untreated mental illness (hence the need to teach children to dodge bullets)
  • Costs for basics — like cars and homes — that are now so high that most mothers have to work, leaving the kids in day-care: no option there
  • Cameras and microphones spying on us at every corner
  • Computers that record our every move, from purchases of bug spray online to what TV shows we watch
  • Jobs that do not pay a living wage
  • Decently paying blue-collar jobs sent off-shore
  • Junk merchandise, sold at upscale prices, shipped back into the country, made by underpaid workers in those off-shored jobs
  • Desperate, beleaguered citizens who elect a batsh!t corrupt administration in a mistaken effort to bring back the good old days…which really were better than what we have now, objectively speaking

Lovely, isn’t it?

We live in a dystopia. What marks that dystopia is exactly what my father used to worry about and, in his most pessimistic moments, would predict was gonna happen: Our standard of living is slipping.

He believed that America, simply by its top-heavy nature, risked sliding back into Third-World conditions. This, he feared, would happen for political and economic reasons. And he knew whereof he spoke, when it came to Third-World conditions. As a young pup, one of his first jobs was delivering milk in a horse-drawn wagon. He escaped Texas and went to sea, and then along came the Great Depression — when he and my mother passed ten days eating nothing but oranges and pancakes. And he spent most of his life sailing to Third-World countries, plus for 10 years we lived in a country that was a relic of the Middle Ages.

I used to think, when he’d go on about this subject, that it was just his right-wing craziness speaking. But he was right. 

It’s highly unlikely he would have voted for Donald Trump, and neither would my mother — they recognized corruption and lies in action. But the woman he married after my mother died surely would have — she shared his thinking about the inexorable downward slide of America, but in addition she was very stupid.

Still, my guess is he’d have cheerfully voted for Mike Pence. In a heartbeat. And it’s no wonder, when you look at what has happened and continues to happen to the lives of working-class Americans.

And in the lives of all of us.

Comedy of Errors…That Ends Well

What a wacky day! Bill Shakespeare himself couldn’t have made this one up.

So my friends VickyC and KJG made plans to meet at KJG’s new digs in Payson, on the 9th. This entails a junket up the side of the Mogollon Rim, about a 90-minute drive.

But first, I had to find some place to farm out the dog: My son’s house.

M’hijito was pressed into duty.

From his house I would have to make my way through gawdawful rush-hour traffic, made even more nightmarish by the TWO (not one) no-left-turn-during-rush-hour roads between my house and VickyC’s house. Getting there would require some driverly gymnastics on the master level. Meanwhile my back still hurts like hell.

So I arrive at his house at the duly appointed time, a little after 8 a.m. Jangle the doorbell.

He, given a fair amount of seniority on the job, is allowed to work at home to some degree. At a little after 8 a.m., he’s on the phone to a customer and is mightily annoyed at being interrupted.

Says he: It’s tomorrow, not today! The 9th is tomorrow.

WTF? Well, I’m sure the Big Day is Friday, because Vicky C, also gifted with a fair amount of seniority, often gets Fridays off. But now am confused.

Leave the dog with him, dart back to the car, and set out to circumnavigate the gawdawful no-left-turn lanes. This entails, in classic Phoenix driving fashion, traveling west in order to go east. I have to get over to 15th Avenue, cruise down to Indian School, fight my way across Central Avenue and the fucking train tracks, then veer south on 3rd Street, bat down to Palm Lane, cross 7th Street on that neighborhood lane (which has a light on 7th), and if I’ve lived that long make my way over a couple more neighborhood streets to VickyC’s.

This would be enough fun without the usual array of moron drivers.

But yea, verily: today I encounter the Emperor of Morons.

Wouldntcha know?

Southbound on 15th — a two-lane road, one southbound, one northbound, with a woozly little left-turn lane running up the middle — I pull up behind a jerk who’s meandering along at 15 mph. It’s a 35 mph zone, which means in Phoenix most people would drive 40 mph. Fifteenth Avenue is a main drag, you understand.

The turkey putters along and putters along. He’s not looking for someplace to turn. No. He’s just holding up the traffic.

Enough. I look around for a cop. Seeing none, I swerve into the left-turn lane and floor it!

This would be why we insist on a SIX-banger.

Sail past the moron and shoot back into the southbound lane, leaving the clown in the dust. Make the light and swing onto Indian School, where I wait through four or five lights to cross Central Avenue, pointlessly and stupidly congested by the lightrail boondoggle.

Finally get through that mess. Dart down 3rd, putter across Palm, and cruise up to VickyC’s house.

Naturally, she’s not there. Evidently my son is right: the Payson day was tomorrow. Which makes sense: the 9th is tomorrow, this being the 8th.

Back to the kid’s house. Pick up the dog, disappointing poor Charley the Golden Retriever, who was thrilled to have company today.

On the way home, stop by the park. By now, summat after 9:00 a.m., the morning is gorgeous! The air is still so crisp some frost lingers on the grass, but the sun is brightly shining. At this late hour, there’s almost no one in the park. We get in a mile’s walk, swinging south through a peninsula of Lower Richistan. Where…of course…

…we encounter another moron.

This is the Ohhhh don’t worry he only wants to play! species of moron.

Yes. Said chucklehead has a hundred-pound Rottweiller straining at a flimsy retractable(!) leash. This critter sees little Ruby and decides she’s at best a nuisance; at worse possibly a threat. The moron does not understand dog language, nary a whisper of it, and so he fails to grasp the meaning of a stiff-legged stance and a tense expression. Yea, verily, the stiff-legged stance with which his little FooFoo is approaching me and my dog, while he — the chucklehead — is being dragged along and cooing, he just wants to play!

I growl, perhaps altogether too unkindly, Right! I’ve heard the wind blow before. Poor little moron chuckles, probably nonplussed, and manages to hold his animal at bay until Ruby and I can get past, giving him and his poochie a wide berth.

Why? Why? WHY ARE SOOOOO MANY PEOPLE SOOO STUMP-STUPID?????

And speaking of stump-stupid, when I get back to the house I email VickyC to say I had the day wrong and I guess we’re going up to Payson on the 9th, Saturday, not on our usual get-together day, Friday.

She emails back: I thought it was March 9.

Holy sh!t.

We check in with KJG and learn forthwith that she’s on her way down here for a grandchild’s birthday, and indeed was figuring on March 9.

So. This is senility for ya. On steroids.

Actually, it’s a bit of a blessing. Quite a bit of a blessing.

First, of course, because I did not look forward to having to roll out of the sack early again tomorrow, bang around to feed me and the dog and pack the dog and her dinner in the car and repeat today’s adventures in city driving. So, hallelujah brothers and sisters, I’m excused from a repeat of that task.

But FAR more to the point: Our redoubtable new choir director, by way of orchestrating a special concert for this weekend’s Evensong, has arranged for a high-powered guest conductor to come in and lead us through this event. Out of the blue, he announced that said conductor would be here for a rehearsal tomorrow and, though notice was short, he would love to have as many of us attend as possible.

Well. Of course you may be sure I really wanted to be there, because our guy has brought in some very interesting people and this one promises to be another of them. Thinking I couldn’t possibly get out of the Payson junket, I was pretty disappointed.

But nay verily! Now I can go to this event after all!

So it goes: All’s well that ends well.

Choir: The Antidote to Days from Hell

So: two hours of choir practice completely negates the aggravation brought on by yet another interminable Day from Hell. It’s amazing! I sure do wish I could do more singing. A whole lot more singing.

Yet another fun day of fiasco after snafu after fiasco. Just to top things off, the minute I got home and came back to the computer I found messages from WordPress kindly informing me that (at last…) all of my sites have been updated to WordPress 4. This is something I have not been looking forward to, because of course it means a new and probably interminable round of technohassle. This post having been started, it’s still showing in the old format. But I’m sure opening a new post will be a learning experience. And what DO you bet all those scheduled posts I made at Plain & Simple Press, which extend all the way through to the end of freaking 2019, are now conveniently UNscheduled?

Hmmmm…another small blessing: it doesn’t look any different from before. Okay. Good. Moving on.

Yeah, this morning’s early light dawns after an endless night of listening to poor old Cassie gasp for breath, the miserable little beast. She got more sleep than I did, I suspect, because of course she doesn’t have to worry about whether a vet should be invited to put her down or about what will happen if said vet is not so invited. {moan}

Before I have time to fix breakfast, Gerardo calls to say he’s on his way over. Surprise! So: drop everything, fly around picking up the dog shit, dig up enough cash to give him and his cousins a Christmas bonus.

I lose my favorite paring knife, a rather expensive thing that I bought at Williams-Sonoma back in the day when I had a job and enough money to purchase such things. Searching all over the house and yard, of course, does nothing to recover it.

Eventually, of course, it does resurface, like all the things that disappear from sight these days. In your old age, things regularly disappear into the black ink of the Magic Eight-Ball that is your memory. Eventually they reappear…it’s just a matter of time. And aggravation.

La Bethulia comes over to reclaim the iPhone, which we never could get the Apple people to free from its attachment to her and to Verizon. I hand it over and she demands the charger cable. I point out that I had to buy it and pay for it. She says “No, you didn’t. I gave it to you.”

Well…I could have provided the receipt that shows the contrary… But just decided fuck it! There are some things I do NOT feel like arguing over. So her other friend to whom she wishes to give the phone (good luck with that!) will get a free (surprisingly expensive) cable. Merry Christmas, whoever you are! 😀

Now I need to do some shopping: Invited to a friend’s birthday party on Friday, I decide to get him a bottle of wine at Costco, plus I need a few small things from there. I figure on the way I can stop by the credit union and also pause at the Best Buy near there to inquire about buying an iPhone with prepaid minutes there.

But I also need to buy a jar of some gummy skin cream called Aquaphor, highly recommended by the dermatologist. This, I discovered, helps enormously with the allergy-generated itch one gets around the nose at this time of year. It’s not easy to find, though. Fry’s (a supermarket) had it. way to Hell and gone over on the other side of the city, but  the local Safeway doesn’t carry it.

Cruising across lovely Gangbanger’s way, I’m entertained (heh) by a Police Incident: the cops are trying to shovel some wretched bum out of a bus stop shelter. The poor schmuck has set up housekeeping in there. Seriously: he’s filled up the whole shelter with his camping gear, his stolen grocery cart, and all his worldly goods. The cops are wrestling with him and trying to take his plastic ground cloth away from him.

Ah, the lovely Valley of the Sun.

Knowing that neither Costco nor Safeway carries the desired skin goop, I figure to stop by an Albertson’s down the road from the credit union. This takes me somewhat off course.

No. They do not carry it. Of course not. Pissed, I continue on my way…

At the next destination: the credit union’s computers are down. Staff is standing around looking confused. Fortunately, the system comes back up fairly forthwith. I stand in line interminably while the ONE teller on duty copes with some chatty guy’s business. Finally get up there and ask to withdraw a few bucks. Well, because my son and I cosign on each others’ accounts (so he can access mine when I finally croak over, which sometimes I wish would be sooner than later…), she demanded that I provide a photo ID in addition to my goddamn debit card.

So I had to traipse back out to the car and dig my driver’s license out of its hidey-hole, an annoying nuisance. By the time I get back, someone has got in line ahead of me so now I have to stand in line another ten minutes waiting for her to get done with that one.

Actually, the kid who was standing around doing nothing finally noticed and bade me to come up to his station.

This 30-second transaction completed, I continued on through the lunatic traffic to the Costco.

Understand: it’s 2:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, normally the slowest day and time of the week at a Costco. But with Christmas coming upon us, the place was  freaking MOBBED! Jayzus, you never saw so many cars in a single parking lot in your life.

I’ve asked my son what he wants for Christmas. He says “money.”

Not very original: it’s the same smart-ass answer his father used to emit.

So I figure…OK, pal. You want money, that’s what you’ll get. I buy him a $200 cash card. So he can spend it on what he wants for Christmas.

I don’t have anything like enough cash left in my Costco budget to pay for gifts plus the grocery items I needed with my own cash card. So I ask the cashier to rack up the booze and the kid’s Christmas cash card on my debit card and then pay for the rest of the stuff on my cash card. He puts it ALL on my cash card. I explain that I do not have enough on my cash card to cover $225, which is why I asked him to put the kid’s cash and the booze on the debit card. So, with a line behind me extending back halfway to the meat counter, he voids the transaction and does it over again.

How hard was this, after all? Too hard, apparently.

He gives me a little Christmas gift card thingie to put it in. On the way out the door, I insert it in there, figuring to get it to the car more easily and not get it mixed up with my own cash cards, which are now half-empty.

I get about three steps toward the parking lot and realize the goddamn card has FALLEN OUT of this thing! It’s effing GONE. I turn around to pick it up — my feet have not left the sidewalk — and someone has already picked it up and stolen it.

Holy goddam SHIT!

Now I have to turn around, traipse back into the mobbed Costco, find a manager, get him to cancel the brand-new card, and beg him to issue me another one.

This adds another 30 minutes to a fun afternoon.

At this point I realize I’ve forgotten to go to the Best Buy but think screw it! Enough is enough.

Back on the freeway, headed home. And…you just know what’s coming, don’t you?

Up pops a sign reading, in glowing white lights, “CRASH AT CAMELBACK. HIGHWAY CLOSED.”

Ahhh fuck. Never fails.

So I shove my way to the surface street at the first off-ramp, along with everyone else who was alert enough to notice the message.

Naturally, every moron on the road has to get in front of me. Turning back onto Gangbanger’s Way from Conduit of Blight, I can NOT lose the pickup in front of me whose driver appears to be…well…lost. He evidently is listening to his talking GPS and trying the best he can to figure out WTF. Unfortunately for us both, “the best he can” isn’t very good. And naturally he’s going my way. After holding up the traffic on GB Way he turns into the ’hood on the road I need to take. Naturally.

After pondering every inch of the route he’s trying to follow, he finally roams onto a side street, holding me up only another few minutes. Oh well.

Whipped, I decide against cooking more dog food this afternoon. There’s enough left to last until tomorrow morning, so tomorrow afternoon will be consumed with that chore. Instead, I grill some chicken I picked up at Sprouts. Being the free-range stuff, it’s pretty tasty, free of the unpleasant stink characteristic of factory-farmed chicken meat. This, with some pasta and fresh tomato sauce and chard from the garden, sits on my stomach like a rock.

Order the Aquaphor from Amazon. Thirteen bucks, rather more than I wanted to pay.

Now I try to take a brief nap before I have to get up and go back out. Lost cause: Ruby the Corgi is having none of that.

Cassie, in her illness and confusion, has come un-house-trained. But she only crapped on the floor once today, and kindly not while I was out traipsing around the city. So she’s having a relatively good day.

That’s something. I guess.