Journal Entry: July 6, 2009

Quite in defiance of my blog post, last Saturday turned busy. T– went to her brother Matt’s to get some advice from a veteran painter, and Karla and John went out shopping for dinner supplies and then picked T– up at Matt’s and took her to her other brother Chris’s place to give some advice as a veteran interior designer.

While they were doing that, I was watching AB back at the house. She woke up from her nap and wanted to play, so we did spinning, and we explored Dora’s dollhouse and we played the Memory game on my laptop, and she watched my marauders invade the Mongolian island chain. All good fun.

When the others got home, we had homemade ribs for dinner, and they were fall-off-the-bone perfect. Then T– and her parents went downstairs to watch a movie and I stayed upstairs to comfort AB whenever the (very loud, very nearby) fireworks startled her awake. That was meant to be a ten- to fifteen-minute assignment, but it ended up taking three hours. When I wasn’t comforting her I was playing Civ in the comfy chair, though, so no complaints.

Sunday morning I skipped church. They were going to a new Chinese place for lunch, so I grabbed some McDonalds and read a couple more chapters of Click (and, in the process, figured out the entire plot of a new Ghost Targets book), and then met up with them to head over to Matt and Amy’s place for the birthday party.

Her family mostly lives close together, and it’s not a small clan, so birthdays come with some frequency among them. As a pragmatic choice, they’ve taken to celebrating via one big birthday party every month, in which they fete everybody whose got a birthday that month and have done with it. T–‘s is the 24th, so she was one of the guests of honor.

Everyone had a great time, but before too long it was time for us to get on the road. Our cats were at home hungry, and AB was ready for a nap. So we said our goodbyes and got on the road.

Umm…I didn’t mention this concerning the trip up on Friday, because T–‘s false labor got top billing, but on our way to Wichita, about halfway there, the car started making a noise. I described it as a baseball card in the spokes, but it was a sort of rapid, light ticking/clattering. Before we left Wichita T–‘s dad noticed the sound while we were in the driveway and he suggested we get some more oil in it. The car has always had a pretty bad oil leak, so I wasn’t too surprised at his suggestion. I think I missed the urgency in it, though.

We drove home with that same ticking sound there the whole way, and we discussed the need to get the Saturn in to our mechanic as soon as possible. That “possible” was limited by the fact that our actual, reliable car is still sitting in the shop at the Honda dealer, though, as you will recall. That’s the only reason we were in the Saturn for the Wichita trip at all!

Anyway, we made it home safe (in case any of you were holding your breath). We stopped at Pizza Hut and grabbed some dinner to take home, and then while I was eating I got a message from D– asking if I was available to go see a movie, and against my better judgment I said yes.

We saw The Hangover, which has been getting incredible reviews, and I’ll call them well-deserved. It was hilarious. It’s raunchy and highly inappropriate, but it captures a certain slice of what it’s like to be a guy, and present that in with a bunch of slapstick that had me rolling.

But, yeah, that had me out late. I got home after 11, crawled into bed, and completely failed to fall asleep. Somehow I started thinking about the Sleeping Kings series, and started considering Golden Age from a different angle, and couldn’t stop that train of thought. I was rearranging chapters and stamping out the outline for hours. I woke up at six this morning with the feeling that I’d never really fully fallen asleep.

Or, in other words, I woke up tired. I got up, though, and got around, and then headed to work. I had high hopes to get the Honda back today, but that was hope without much faith. I decided to go on in to work, and wait until the Honda guy said “come pick it up” before starting into my vacation time.

It’s a thirty-minute drive from my house to work every morning. I made it about twenty-two minutes, to the last exit from the highway, and as I was rolling up the exit ramp the Check Oil light flickered on, fluttered, and then all the lights on my dash came on.

Because the car was dead.

That was halfway up the ramp, and my inertia carried me to the top of it, and then back down the other side to settle to a stop just shy of the traffic light, in the middle of three lanes of busy commuters on MacArthur. I spent a frantic twenty seconds trying to find the button for the hazard lights, while the traffic light turned green and people behind me started honking.

Then I set to the task of pushing the car through the intersection before the light changed, without getting run over. An oh-so-generous stranger saw my plight, parked at the curb, and came back to help me push the car through the intersection and then into a parking lot on the other side of it. So at least there was that.

Remember, though, that this is my backup car. And by all indication, I just ran the engine out of oil, which is pretty much a fatal error. The ignition couldn’t start the car back up (and when the AAA guy tried it later, with jumper cables attached, the starter started smoking, so that’s pretty definite). The car’s got 240,000 miles on it, so none of this is a huge surprise, but it’s no fun.

Luckily I have some amazing coworkers. I called up my supervisor to tell him what had happened, and he immediately offered to come pick me up (and do any necessary ferrying the follow-up process required). I came to the office, made some calls, and eventually arranged for a tow truck to meet me back at the parking lot later in the morning.

Then I had trouble finding my supervisor to let him know the new plans, so I stopped by Irene’s office (she’s my Documentation Team Lead, which is one of my types of boss), and when I was done catching her up to speed she offered to loan me a car. My cup overflows.

My supervisor was still nowhere in sight, so she drove me up to the parking lot (and the AAA guy burned up my starter), and then he took the Saturn to our mechanic up in Edmond, and Irene took me to her place to pick up the extra car. Then she went back to work, and I drove home to drop off some stuff for T– and try to sort out the car situation.

So the Saturn’s now at K&C (the same guys who tried to fix the Honda before sending me to the dealer), and the Honda’s at the dealer, and I’m driving a loaner BMW. I did hear back from Honda while I was at it, and they say it was the most expensive of the three possible options we’d discussed, but I can have my car back tomorrow.

There’s catastrophes and there’s blessings, all intermingled. Of them all, I’m most excited about the new Ghost Targets book. And most concerned about the changes to Golden Age. And that, my dear friends, is how you can tell I’m a writer.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.