Crashing Towards The Driver’s Seat

August 29, 2008 at 10:59 am (2008) (, , , , )

A few days ago I was stuck in traffic behind a van. The windows on vans are for some reason always tinted, but motion inside caught my eye and I watched the silhouette of a little boy flying an action figure through the air. I remember what it was like to be there: the parents up front, worrying about the traffic, the dad driving and the mom following a map. Maybe they tell the little boy to quiet down so they can concentrate, and maybe he does, but he’s still lost in his own little world; the action figure still flying, the movements guided by his hand.

Sometimes I wish I were still in the backseat.

We had a minivan when I was a kid — with three kids on a road trip, you almost had to. We had the typical early 90’s van — no DVD player or individual seating or doors on both sides…Our van was navy blue, boxy in shape, and a little cramped, with only one door in the back — one way in and one way out. The only reason we survived, I think, is because my parents assigned us all our individual space.

The middle seat was the place to be, and although we would switch throughout the trip to play the fairness game, since I was the youngest (and the only girl), I usually got it for the duration. I’ve always loved smaller spaces, where you can snuggle into a corner and feel cozy and content  — I used to make forts out of the furniture and blankets in the basement, and I remember my roommate and I rearranged the furniture in my college dorm room so that I had a little nook that consisted of my bed, a rug, and a bookshelf. My brothers probably wanted that middle seat so that they could spread out; I coveted it because it was nestled between my brothers and my parents, where I felt safe and secure.

Plus, there was a lot more room for my stuff.

My mom was a genius when we went on road trips. The day before, she would take us to the comic store and the bookstore where we would stock up on “quiet distractions.” My brothers would get the latest Green Lantern and X-Men comics while I picked out Sweet Valley High or R.L. Stine books (Fear Street, not Goosebumps — I had standards). Mom would make us wait until we were at least a half hour on the road before we could start reading — “to make it last,” she would say — so I would color or write in a fresh notebook while my brothers inserted tapes into their walkmans and put on their headphones.

I loved packing my bag for car rides — books and crayons and notebooks would find themselves stuffed into my backpack, the travel pillow resting on top, ready to use. I always slid all the way over so that I could lean against the window, my bag of goodies sitting in the space between me and the driver’s seat, the cooler and bag of treats lined up next to it. I was in charge of the snacks, which annoyed me as the trip dragged on, as it meant I had to bookmark what I was reading and cater to the whims of my brothers.

“Susan, hand me a juice.”

“Ok.” And I would hand one back and pick up my book, intent on going back to that world where there were no car horns and traffic, and my parents’ low voices and brothers didn’t exist. There was just me and words and a whole other place.

“And the pretzels.”

Sometimes I still feel like that little girl who wants to cozy up with her notebook or crayons, who can drown out the rest of the world and let someone else take the wheel and worry about directions for awhile. Sometimes I wish I were still in that van, safely cocooned in that middle spot with everything I’ll ever need surrounding me.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not still in that place, afraid to move up and move on.


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Update III

August 24, 2008 at 5:21 pm (2008)

It’s amazing, and somewhat discomforting, to realize how things can change so much, so quickly. After such a long period of stagnation, it seemed as if everything was just beginning to look up. Things were happening: I had opportunities, I had goals, I had a plan. Fortunately, the opportunity is still there, I’m holding fast to my goals, and my plan is moving forward. However, I’m learning that perhaps I need to put the idea of being more flexible into practice.

I’ve had some unexpected health issues the past three weeks that have left me feeling a mix of emotions, namely frustration and anxiety. My doctor believes that I have a mono-like virus due to some physical symptoms and blood work results, and although I’ve undergone a series of tests for other symptoms that gratefully show I’m otherwise healthy, it’s frustrating to feel like something is wrong with your body and yet you don’t know what it is. This has led to increased anxiety — anxiety that I absolutely don’t have room for right now.

I can’t begin to explain how not me I am. In addition to feeling like crap, I’m a bit of a mess: I can’t focus, I’ve become increasingly sensitive and pessimistic, and I feel like I’m five again — I need my Mom and Dad. This is not Independent Susan. This is a Susan that is completely foreign to me, a Susan I don’t recognize. I think I’ve laughed twice in three weeks and smiled even less. When I’m not smiling, there’s definitely something wrong.

After two trips to the ER and countless doctors visits, we’re still not sure what’s going on, but we’re trying to narrow everything down and rule things out. I don’t remember ever feeling quite this bad before or having it last for so long, and I want it to stop. Immediately.

…But since telling myself off obviously isn’t working, we’re going to continue seeking answers while hoping that I get better on my own. However, because my health has caused such a huge hiccup these past three weeks, particularly at work, I have become increasingly worried about losing my job (yes, fortunately, it’s a temporary job and not a career, but it‘s one that I rather enjoy). So, I talked to my boss.

I’ve always believed in being honest with my supervisors about personal issues that arise, especially when those issues are affecting my work. As foolish as this may sound, I believe that it’s my responsibility as an employee to let them know so that they may make accommodations to the benefit of the company, even though I hope that those accommodations benefit me as well. Plus, plain and simple, I have a lot of respect for them.

I like to think that my supervisors and coworkers know the “real” me, that they know my regular work habit and performance and that they see that I am genuinely enthusiastic about my job. So when something changes, and when it becomes apparent in my work, as has been the recent case, I hope that I can rely on my past performance. Luckily for me, I have proven myself and my capabilities, and my boss is sensitive to my issue.

Last week I told her the situation and explained how much I regretted putting her and the rest of the staff in such a position. She said that she understood from experience how hard it is to function when you’re feeling so bad and that I can’t push myself too much, as I had been doing. She reassured me that I’m a vital member of the team and that my past performance had indeed proven my capabilities; however, my health was the most important thing, and they would work with me while I got better. So we worked out a schedule where I will be working part-time for a little while, benefiting both my health and my job: working half days would ensure that I get the rest I need while also allowing me to be more productive during the time I am there.

The relief I felt as I left her office was indescribable. It’s nice to know you have someone on your side.

That’s the update: sporadic posting will continue throughout the next couple of weeks; thanks for hanging in there with me.


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Update II

August 13, 2008 at 7:48 pm (2008)

A lot of things going on in my life right now.  Unexpected, unexplained, and, most of all, unwanted.  Why does it seem as if once I get things in order, things go all awry?  Talk about needing to be flexible…Maybe I just haven’t learned my lesson yet.

I’m suddenly grateful for the decisions I’ve recently made and the conclusions I’ve drawn. With everything kind of erupting these past two weeks, I’m actually glad that I’ll be moving home for awhile come October. I think that I really need my family and friends; I need to be at home.

Certain situations have obviously taken precedence, so I apologize for the sporadic posting. I thought there wouldn’t be any new ones for awhile, but then I had to go ahead and start feeling good and be all inspired. Pft. What’s up with that, anyway? If there’s one good thing that came out of it, though, it’s that I wrote a new story. I have no idea how that happened, and it’s still a rough draft, but check it out in the sidebar anyway and feel free to let me know your thoughts. Trust me, as long as I don’t get “OMG you’re writting sucks ass!!1!1!,” I’ll appreciate your feedback — I’m one of those insane writers who actually appreciates constructive criticism

In the meantime, stay happy, stay healthy, but keep moving forward towards your dreams.

And eat some ice cream.  That’s gotta be a remedy for one of the three.

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