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I just ran over a dog.  A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  She darted out into the road as I was completing the final leg of my drive home from work.   A 12 mile trip which today took me over an hour and a half. 

Take one winter snowstorm, dumping 8 inches of snow, ice, and crud in a major urban area, add sunglare so severe I couldn’t read street signs as I weaved and darted my way home, throw in an accident during rush hour on the major artery that takes me from work to home, and let’s not forget it’s December 23rd, so we also have last-minute shoppers, kids getting out of school early, and the official beginning of that break from work for a holiday I don’t celebrate (but am grateful for the time off nonetheless).

Finally, after detours through frightening neighborhoods, in an effort to avoid the major road which was backed up, I got back on the congested boulevard, and creeped and crawled my way back to my own safe neighborhood.  As I was heading down the final stretch, at last able to open up my sporty little car towards the optimistic 35 mph speed limit, a little dog darted out from the iron gates of one of the villa-esque mansions and hopped across the road.  I slammed on my brakes, grateful it was 33 degrees today, or else the road would have been one giant skating rink, and I heard the grinding of anti-lock brakes.

I didn’t stop in time, or, at all.  I kept driving, lest I be hit by the car behind me, on this road that doesn’t have shoulders.  But as I glanced in my rear-view mirror, I expecting to see what I dreaded, I saw instead a happy little puppy bounding back across the road in front of the next car, which had managed to stop.  Somehow she either flew between my tires, or I was able to slow enough for her to make it across the road. 

When I was a little girl, I saw our dog, Amy, a fox terrier-whippet mix, get run over in a similar fashion.  She timed her crossing to coincide with the undercarriage of the car precisely, and she narrowly missed all four wheels. 

I wanted nothing more than to escape work a little early and run home so we could get back on the road and go visit my parents for the next few days.  Instead, I was treated to a trial of patience, determination, fear, and relief.  The last thing I want right now is to get back in that car and face the still bunged-up roadways with the persistent sunglare and asshole motorists.  Yet that’s precisely where I’m going.  As long as Mr. Apron is doing the driving, as long as that little dog is okay, I think I can bear it.  But a Xanax would help, too.

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The good news came in an e-mail from my clinical supervisor on Tuesday afternoon.  The transfer I requested back in, oh, March, is coming to fruition.  And sooner than I’d expected!  Everything depended on something else.  I couldn’t leave my current post till a full-time replacement had been found, and I couldn’t go to the new location till they’d done a Tetris with how many days/week of speech therapists they needed.  All the interviewees seemed to either disappear to go work elsewhere, or else request to work in the other part of the city. 

The reason I’ve been so anxious to transfer is that I moved.  We bought a house in February, and moving to a nicer neighborhood has doubled my commuting time and distance.  I’ve been tweaking my route countless times, and traffic has eased some since school let out for the summer (those 10 month teachers sure clog up the highways September through June), but it’ll only get worse again in September.  And there’s construction.  And I can’t avoid a major dangerous, poorly designed road which is the bane of my existence.  If there’s  an accident — forget it.  Some people can tolerate a commute and enjoy driving.  Mr. Apron is one of them.  My father is another.  He’s had an hour-long commute for most of my life, with the exception of 4 years we lived in Rochester, Minnesota, which presented its own challenges.  Ask me about lutefisk.  I, however, am not one of those people.  Especially given all my gripes about driving positions and seatbelts ratcheting my internal organs.  So, back to that transfer…

I was told that, if it happened, the changing of the guard would happen between spring and summer “semesters”, during the 2 weeks when children have a break (which ended July 5th), or between the summer and fall “semesters”, in late August, when kids get another respite from staff, and staff from students likewise.  So I certainly wasn’t expecting to see my last day emblazoned on the calendar as July 28th when I arrived at work on Wednesday.  Yet there it was.

Finally.  Unexpected in schedule and logistics, but welcomed nonetheless.  This way actually works out well.  The new SLP replacing me will start this coming Monday, so I’ll have two weeks to orient her to my caseload and help her out with all the “wish someone had told me this”  info.  And, when I disappear to my new location July 28th, I’ll be overlapping that week with the woman I’m to replace.  I’m sad she’s leaving.  I shadowed her back in May when I went to visit that center and wanted to check out the “feel” of the classrooms, and I know I would have much to learn from her were we to work together.  As it is, the other SLP who just started there is a clinical fellow (recall I just finished my clinical fellowship on June 8th), so I’ll be a barely broken-in SLP working with a newbie. 

But she comes highly praised by a woman I work with who knows her through her daughter, so that’s promising.  Basically, I can’t wait to have another SLP to work with.  I’ve been the lone SLP at my current center since November, and I’m very much looking forward to another speechie professional to discuss therapy and treatment ideas with.  It’s a new adventure, and it starts July 28th.  Wish me luck!

Mr. Apron’s birthday is coming up.  I cannot reveal what it is I was doing specifically this evening, as he reads the blog.  At least, I hope he does (Hi, Buddy!).  Suffice it to say, I was down at Jo-Ann Fabrics Superstore buying items for a sewing project, as well as picking up supplies for a birthday something for Mr. Apron.  He had a small event/engagement at 7:30 which I was debating attending.  He had e-mailed me earlier today to tell me that the person I wanted specifically to see was not going to be there.  So I figured, I would take my jaunt to the fabric store, take my time, and not worry about rushing back. 

I ducked raindrops, having survived the Superstore, and ran to the car.  The clock read 6:50pm (so it was actually 6:49, ’cause I’m good like that), the gas tank read empty, and my stomach read hungry.  I spent most of the drive back teetering on the edge of indecisive madness, debating whether to get gas, a chore I detest like few others and could just ask Mr. Apron to do for me later; vacillating about attending Mr. Apron’s event, which I had told him I’d go to, but which he had seemed neutral about my attending; and trying to figure out what to do about being hungry.  It was a logic puzzle. 

a) I will make it back home and/or to the event if I do not get gas, but I may not make it to work tomorrow.

b) I may not make it to the event if I do not get gas.

c) I may not make it to the event if I have to stop for food.

d) I can go home for food, but then I will miss the event.

e) If I do not stop soon for food, I may not make it home.

Ah, the back story.  I have a series of stomach woes, including acid reflux, hypoglycemia, and lactose intolerace.  Plus, I choose to be a vegetarian.  So please meet Killjoy of Eating Out.  I have to snack regularly, like a cow grazing throughout the day, or I may shut down, or worse, become bitchy and snap at my husband.  I also must eat relatively small portions, such as only half a garden burger.  If I eat too much, I get nasty indigestion, heartburn, and feel like I’m throwing up in my mouth.  Plus occasional nausea from being hungry or too full.  Fun, right?  So if I was going to Mr. Apron’s no-food-included event with a start time at 7:30pm, and I hadn’t eaten since a modified stuff-my-face session on the drive home from work (approx 4:00-5:00pm), I needed to eat.  Fast.  But not greasy, meaty, or huge.  I knew that on the way home was a Wendy’s, a Panera, and a Popeye’s.  Guess which is most hospitable to this Pain-in-the-Ass veggie?  There were 3 turnoffs for Panera. 

As I passed the first: “Oh, I could have gotten off there.  No matter, I’m not going to the event.”

As my foot hovered over the brake pedal and my finger reached for the blinker near the second, “You know, I could just grab a ba- — shit, I missed it!”

And so, as I slammed on the brakes to make the third entrace, stunning the car behind me, I slid into a sweet parking spot, convinced I would get a savory bagel (onion, everything, garlic) with a veggie cream cheese, and make the show. 

Scanning the offerings at the bagel counter, I saw exactly one dutch apple bagel, a buttload of cinnamon crunch (an excellent junky breakfast bagel you can pretend is not just a bear claw in bagel’s clothing), a buttload of blueberry (never really tastes like blueberry, does it), and a shitload of whole wheat.  I made my way up to the cashier, whom I will call Keisha, because she looks like a Keisha, and I forgot to look at her nametag.  I deliberated, scanning the menu, trying to decide what I could a) eat in the car without making a total mess of myself, and b) afford with the meager offerings in my wallet. 

“Are you ready to order?” Keisha asked.

I squirmed, daring the menu board to tell me what I was ordering.  I stalled, in a silly, girlish way, the way little kids dance when they have to pee but don’t want to stop playing.  “Umm, I, just, knew what I wanted, and now I have to regroup, and figure it out again, because, well, the bagels, and I wanted a savory bagel, but it’s late and I don’t want a sweet one, and I just have to figure out what I want and think about, and come up with a new gameplan and…”

Keisha laughed as she cut me off.  “You know what’s really good?” she enticed.  “A slice of our sundried tomato basil bread with a vegetable cream cheese on top.  Would you like me to make you that?”

“Yeah.  Would you?”

She even toasted it and put it in a to-go bag for me.  And only charged me for cream cheese.  Panera, being a huge corporate subsidiary of McDonald’s, doesn’t want you to think they underpay folks like Keisha, so they don’t have a tip jar.  They do have some charity box where you put your changed, like McDonald’s has for the Ronald McDonald house, so I put my change in there.  And I skipped out a happy girl. 

On the way down to the fabric store, when there was a perceived rush, every single light turned red as I approached.  Now, as I attempted to spread cream cheese on two slices of warm bread while driving (watch out for me when I”m hungry and on the road — it ain’t pretty), all the lights bared their greenness to me.  I stopped for gas at a HESS which offered fuel for $2.08, as opposed to the BP which was charging $2.19 cash and $2.29 credit (and we alraedy know my cash situation this evening), and spead my bread while the car fuelled up. I event made it to the event on time, with bread in hand, polishing off the last bite as the event began.  Mr. Apron told me later he was glad I came.  I have Keisha to thank.  Sometimes it only takes one person to make your day.  And she made mine.  Try the sundried tomato basil bread from Panera, toasted — it’s like fluffy soft tomato soup with a dash of sunshine.