Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shock the Monkey, Part 1

So we woke up on a Thursday, startled to discover that the morning light creeping in the windows was far brighter than it should have been. First of all, I’m not a morning person, so the mere intrusion of the light was bad enough. I’m never mentally prepared for this daily slap in the face. But when the slap has an extra helping of retina-piercing whiteness, you know something is wrong with the world.

I lay there in the bed, refusing to move or accept the fact that it was time to get up. I would have willingly promised anything to anyone for just five more minutes of slumber.

Just above said bed is a very wide but not very tall window. I’m sure this particular window design has some type of name, but I don’t know that term might be. What I do know is that it’s difficult as hell to find curtains to fit this opening. Over the years, we’ve had to be very creative in our choice of window treatment options. Some ideas are okay, others have failed miserably. Even with my usually-trustworthy gay genes, I have not satisfactorily conquered this damn portal to the world.

I also know that our cat, Scotch, is fascinated with this window and lives for the act of jumping up on the window sill at the crack of dawn, and then pulling the curtain back so that even more light spills onto my hissing, non-impressed body. (I’m totally in agreement with vampires on this bit of business. Daylight kills.) On this particular morning, Scotch was especially exuberant in his ritual, ripping the curtain as far open as he could, flooding the room with light.

That oddly-bright light. What was up with THAT?

I sighed. Then I made the painful flop and roll to my left so that I could look at the alarm clock. I always perform this action while praying to any listening God that I had somehow awakened early, and could therefore pass back out for at least a few more minutes. Most of the time, of course, my dreams are shattered. In fact, I’m usually already way late and have to scramble, tearing through the house in a mad frenzy.

But THIS morning, I had time to spare. In fact, it was considerably early, miles to go before I had to weep about rejoining the human race. So where was all the extra whiteness coming from? Why was I being forced to THINK before I’d even had coffee? This is a cruel and vicious.

I finally throw back the blankets and stagger out of bed. As is typical, Scotch has leapt down from the window sill and is now perched by the side of the bed, awaiting praise for his skillful manipulation of the weird-window curtain. As is also typical, I’m not yet to the point of complete body control, and one of my renegade feet stomps squarely on his tail. Screeching ensues, followed by a feline thunder run to the other end of the house.

Why do cats do that? Why do they get right up under your feet, positioning themselves in the exact spot where the possibility of pain is at its prime? I don’t get that. You would think, especially after several years, that a cat would learn certain things, such as “don’t get too close to Daddy when he’s getting out of bed”. But no, he’s right there underfoot, painful stomping occurs, and then we have drama.

As Scotch takes out his anger in another room by ripping an innocent rug to shreds, I turn toward the weird window and gaze outside. My eyes blink open in surprise as I realize that the front yard is completely covered in snow. What the hell?

This is Texas. We don’t get snow. Okay, we DO, but not like everybody else. We get just a mere dusting of the white stuff and the entire state shuts down, with everything cancelled. (Except for football games. You must have football games in Texas. Otherwise, the state will wither up and die. It’s in the Constitution.)

So for me to be viewing a front yard that is completely covered in snow, with no tufts of dead grass showing whatsoever, it’s a clear sign that something major, indeed, is taking place. The world has shifted on its axis. “Holy cow,” I mutter primitively, because it’s still early and my brain is not fully engaged.

Scotch peeks around the corner of the bedroom doorway, his curiosity piqued by my exclamation. Is Daddy proud of his handiwork with the curtain? Did Scotch do good? He slinks into the room, in search of a tasty reward of some kind, just as I am stomping out of the room on the way to my office. As usual, I’m not really paying attention, and once again there is unexpected abuse of his freakishly-long tail, followed by more angry shredding of an innocent rug.

I race into the office and sign into my work laptop, an action that I avoid as long as possible on a regular day. Once I’m hooked into the buzzing network of the behemoth corporation where I toil, I kick off the chat application and immediately start pinging my co-workers. What’s going on? Who drove into work and who didn’t? How bad is it? Tell me!

My eyes continue to widen as the field reports start filling my screen. Nobody in our group has made it to the office yet, although some are trying. Travel advisories are being posted and the schools might be cancelled. That’s all I need to see. I’m not leaving this house any time soon. I get to work from home today. Hurray!

Nothing thrills me more than not having to go into the office. It’s just a beating, having to find something decent to wear, fighting the crazed Dallas traffic for over an hour, and then dealing with certain co-workers that make me want to claw my face. Besides, it’s a proven fact that I get a lot more work done when I’m still in my jammie pants.

So now I’m actually in a good mood, dancing around the house as I put on the coffee and search for a few nibbly things to munch on (working from home means you get to snack all day, another bonus). I praise the fat, wet flakes falling from the sky, thanking them for this lovely gift of non-travel.

Then Terry walks into the room, looking very sad and requiring my attention. He HAS to drive into the office, since his company believes you must be visible to be productive. I discreetly turn my happy dance into something less obnoxious, and offer my sympathies. I know better than to make a big deal out of my less-restrictive work structure, because this will only lead to tension and turmoil in the relationship.

After some supportive commentary and counseling, we eventually get him bundled up and headed out into the snowfall. As soon as I can no longer see his car through the thick curtain of flakes showering the road, I’m once again running all over the house, belting out 70’s songs while sliding across the wood floors in my socks. Scotch the cat wisely remains hidden during these festivities, because my dangerous feet are moving too quickly for proper tail management and protection.

And thus goes the day, with me being amazingly productive simply because I’m not sitting in a cubicle with an attitude about having to sit in a cubicle. From time to time, I stand at one of the windows and admire the snowfall. When you don’t have to be out IN it, snow is really pretty.

Then, around noon, I start to get a little concerned about this pretty snow. Because it’s not stopping. It hasn’t stopped for hours. There’s already a good four or five inches on the back patio table. If anything, it’s snowing even harder. Something’s not right. It never snows this much in Dallas.

I call Terry in his office. “What’s going on, what are you hearing, how are the roads, have you seen the weather reports, where’d you put that new Madonna CD?"

Terry patiently waits for me to take a breath, then: “It’s getting bad. The roads were okay when I drove in, it wasn’t sticking yet, but now it is."

I glance out one of the front windows to confirm this. It’s doing more than just sticking to the road. You can’t really even tell where the road IS. “I think I better go to the grocery store."

Terry’s not sure why this is necessary. “I just WENT to the grocery store. We shouldn’t need anything."

“We need to stock up, what if we get trapped here for a while? What if we can‘t go anywhere?” (Nothing’s ever medium-range with me. It’s either complete boredom or mass hysteria.)

Terry sighs. “But we HAVE food. And this isn’t a blizzard. This is not ‘Little House on the Prairie’ where Pa has to save the cows."

As usual, I’m not really listening to him, instead rummaging through the pantry and the refrigerator, checking the inventory. “There’s got to be something we need. Oh my GOD! We’re almost out of mayo. See?"

He grudgingly remembers something else. “Oh, and onions. We need onions for the beans I was going to put on.” Then he gets more into the spirit of things. (Food shopping is fun! Even if it‘s pointless. In actuality, we have enough food around the house to last until summer.) “And if I take a personal day tomorrow, I could make breakfast. Grab some eggs, too."

I am officially on a mission. I’d better get going.

Sadly, I check the work laptop and discover that the chat application is lit up like brake lights during rush-hour traffic. Not a good sign. I quickly realize that a major impromptu conference call is going on, and I’d better get my ass on there.

Conference calls make me insane, especially calls where some High Priestess has deemed that every department in the company must be represented, even if your organization has nothing to do with the issue at hand. These things take forever. The roll-call alone is at least thirty minutes as people deal with unfamiliar mute buttons, dying cell phones and the inevitable moron who lets his dog bark in the background throughout the entire call.

By the time I finally escape from THAT crap, it’s three in the afternoon. The patio table snow gauge is showing at least seven inches, and the still-falling flakes are bigger than ever. This is insane. I ping my work peeps that I need to hit the store real quick, I’ll be right back. Then I run jump in the car.
Little did I know that the doors of hell had just creaked open...

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