Friday, August 18, 2017

Zen in the Slow Lane

(post copyright 2017, Dawn Weber)

I tried something new today. I drove the speed limit. Almost.

I can't believe it myself, but it's true: I went 71 miles an hour in a 70 mph zone on the interstate, and I am thoroughly impressed with myself, even though I might be a senior citizen now.

Not only did I go the speed limit, I stayed on the far right for most of my trip. Yep. I tooled along in the slow lane like I had no place to go. Like I didn't have a job. Like I was 80.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, this idea of driving slow. Along with millions of other American hot-heads, I've been a fast-lane driver most of my life, cheerfully going five to ten miles over the speed limit in the left lane and passing everyone in the right lane. My habits have only grown worse as I've aged--I've been the blur on your left, the headlights in your rearview mirror and the thorn in your side, kind of wishing you'd get out of my way.

As I've said before, instant asshole: just add freeway. Nowhere is this more apparent than the interstate, where nice, tax-paying, law-abiding people become Satan's spawn. It's especially true of the left lane, where the asshole quota is much higher.

I'll admit it: without even meaning to, I have occasionally been obnoxious in the fast lane. Maybe more "jerk" than asshole, but still--I'm tired of it. I'm tired of watching for brake lights. I'm tired of white knuckles. I'm tired of stress headaches, a pounding heart and a racing pulse. I'm tired of Rusty McLeftLane, cruising 50 mph in the fast lane. I'm tired of Sneaky McRightLane, trying to pass  on the right. I'm tired of tail-gaters, riding my rear like a frat boy on a Saturday night.

Mostly, I'm just tired.

And in today's commute, I discovered something important, and it is that in the slow lane, there are no worries. I can drive at a reasonable pace, merrily oblivious to any kind of stress, and if the people behind me don't like it, well, they can pull out and pass. I'm doing what a right-lane driver should: putting along at the posted speed limit, while the folks in the left lane continue in their quest to kill each other.

Oldster level: complete.

But most of all, in the slow lane, I can ignore the assholes, and if I've learned anything in my 48 years, it's that one of the keys to a long and happy life is ignoring assholes. Before I move from "jerk" status to "asshole" status myself, I'm going to slow my roll a bit, because the senior citizens really have something here. Although I'll admit that it's much easier to do when I'm going somewhere I have no desire to go -- such as work -- driving the speed limit in the right lane is freeing and downright relaxing, and I have much more energy to think, to chill--to just stop and smell the roadkill. 

You know, I just might obey the law more often.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Let Sleeping Bums Lie

(post copyright 2017, Dawn Weber)

The Hobo is missing.

I've looked for him everywhere, and checked all the usual spots: the couch, the computer, the refrigerator. He's usually in one of these places engaged in his hobbies of video-gaming, Snap-chatting or eating his weight in chicken wings. But I just can't find the boy.

So I ask the husband, "Where's your son?"

And that's when it happens: the unthinkable. The unfathomable. The unbelievable.

"He's taking a nap."

My heart stops, my stomach thumps. Surely there's been some kind of mistake.

"Yeah, right," I tell him. "That kid doesn't nap. He's never napped."

The Husband glances up from his iPhone, where he's playing his 341st daily round of Panda Pop. "See for yourself."

I'm going to have to do that, because there's no way I believe him. Our son hasn't napped since the early 2000s, and he hasn't willingly taken a nap ever.

I creep slowly, slowly up the stairs to his room.Pausing outside the door, I listen for movement or the telltale Pew-pew-pew! of video games, but hear nothing. My hand rises to the doorknob then stops. I am, after all, the mother of a teenage boy. I better knock first.


No answer.

Knock-knock again, louder.


This is alarming.

"Are you sure he's in here?" I hiss down to the Husband in the living room.

He's annoyed, but he doesn't look up from Panda Pop. "I'm tellin' ya, he's napping."

Still doubting, I turn the knob and ease open the door. And that's where I find the Hobo, fast asleep, sweating, drooling and indeed, napping.

My jaw drops. This is a kid who hasn't taken a nap since he was a newborn, and then, he never went down without a fight. Even before birth, his tiny fists and feet pummeled the insides of my belly all night long. The baby knew no bedtime.

I tip-toe over to the bed. Still not believing my eyes, I bend over his body. I have to make sure he's ok. "Hey," I whisper, shaking his shoulder. "Are you sick or something?"

He wrinkles his brow. "Hmmff?"

"I said, are you sick? Are you ok?"

He rolls over, eyes still shut, face perturbed. "I'm fine. I'm just tired, that's all."

Who is this kid, and where is my son, who hasn't slept since the Bush administration? I had to beg, plead, cajole and bribe him with Doritos to nap. I had to lay beside his crib on the hardwood floor, holding his hand through the slats to try and get him to sleep. Forty-five minutes later I'd be there, hips throbbing, still clutching his hand through the crib, his eyes as wide as saucers.

I'm not sure where such a non-napping baby came from. The husband is a nap-master, elevating it to a high art form. He can sleep anywhere -- outside, during a conversation, behind the wheel of a moving automobile. Anywhere.

Somewhat worried about the sleeping Hobo, I pull my phone from my pocket and Google "Teenage son sleepy." Thousands of posts pop up, all of which come down to "rapid physical growth."

Well. That makes sense. The boy has shot up at least six inches in the past couple years, towering over me now, his arms easily reaching the ceiling. It's almost scary how much he's grown, and sometimes it frightens me that the tall hairy guy raiding the refrigerator once resided in my abdomen. How did that gangly giant come from me? The physics alone are frightening.

I put my phone away and look back down at him. So now he naps. Great. Must be nice. One of my lifelong goals is a nap. As I've said before, I've been engaged in a futile attempt to sleep since the kids were born. The Hobo in particular thwarted most of my potential naps, insistent as he was on remaining awake until the second coming of Christ. That boy beat the sleep right out of me, and over time -- and the countless hours on the cold floor -- I learned to let go of the idea of ever napping again.

Hey -- I'm a parent. I gave up my dreams a long time ago.

I feel a wave of nostalgia, looking at his rumpled bed-head. It would be kind of nice, I think, to lie down, strike the old pose and watch him sleep. But 14-year-old boys don't take well to hand-holding.

And 48-year-old hips don't take well to the floor.

Standing there, I also toy briefly with the idea of waking him up, partly for revenge, sure, but mostly to stop the growth spurt that's pushing him ever taller, ever out the door, ever away from us.

Instead I ease my way from his room, shut the door and leave him be, just another drooling hobo, tangled in a blanket.