Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Post-Annoyance Stress

I'm still tireless -- in the automotive sense -- because it can never go smooth. Wouldn't you know, they didn't have the tire I needed, so they're having to order it from another store. They'd said they should have it this morning and would call me, but we're rapidly running out of morning. However, they did check all the tires and said the others are okay, so I only have to get one and it won't be as expensive as I feared, and I figure that the others really must be okay if they told me that rather than taking the opportunity to sell me more.

So, now I'm waiting. The annoying thing was that I was supposedly going to get copy edits on Don't Hex With Texas this week, so I'd cleared my schedule. But I don't have them and haven't even had word that they're on their way. That means I don't have much to do, and I could be doing stuff like shopping in preparation for the Browncoat Ball, but I don't like the idea of doing too much driving around on the spare tire.

Yesterday after getting back from the tire shop and after mailing my tax payment (ugh), I pretty much collapsed. I think part of it is ragweed season finally hitting, and spending a fair amount of time on the side of the road near where a lot of ragweed was growing. And some of it may have been a delayed stress reaction that turned me into jelly. I was never overly concerned during the actual tire shred/stuck on side of road part of things. I never had any doubt whatsoever that help would come along and that I'd be okay. After the fact, however, it occurred to me how fortunate I was.

I somehow managed to be in the worst possible place in the middle of nowhere when the tire went bad on me. Here's a fun bit of trivia about roads that parallel railroads out in the part of the country where the railroad came through first before the towns were built. The towns are all seven miles apart. That's because the old steam engines had to stop for water every fourteen miles, so they had a station every seven miles, with one station servicing trains going one way and the next servicing trains going the other way. Towns grew up around the places where the trains stopped, and then the roads were built connecting the towns. I have checked this, and it really does work. Some of the towns have just about dried up and blown away since the age of steam ended, so that all that's left are a cluster of houses and maybe a church, but you'll find that little cluster of settlement at the seven mile mark. For the larger towns that developed their own economies beyond the trains and grew and survived, you have to figure out where the station would have been and measure from there.

Well, I managed to have to pull over five miles outside one of the larger towns and two miles from one of the ghost towns where there's just a few houses, a barbecue joint in a shack in front of one of the houses, and a fireworks stand that's only open around July 4 and Christmas. I was smack in the middle of the longest stretch with no signs of civilization, with the railroad on my side of the road (and therefore no houses) and just open farmland on the other side of the road. I was also midway between my parents' house and home, so that if I'd had to resort to calling my parents for help, it would have taken them an hour to get there, and if I'd called roadside assistance, it would likely have taken an hour for someone to get there from Dallas, unless they had a contractor in one of the nearby small towns. I'm not even sure I had a cell phone signal out there.

On the bright side, no civilization in sight might have been better than being stuck in front of the cement works in one of the small towns I go through, where they had a whole army of weeping angel statues lined up in front (along with bird baths and deer statues). It would have been hard to change a tire without taking my eyes off the creepy angels.

Of course, none of this was a factor as my knight in a shining pickup truck was there in an instant to change the tire for me, but sometimes the awareness of what could have been can really freak you out after the all-clear. As a result, I spent the evening curled up on the sofa, watching the last few episodes of last season of The Office on DVD. I still get tears in my eyes from the end of the season finale, just from that look on Pam's face. Sigh. By the way, I don't know if all cable systems are doing it, but Time-Warner has an NBC preview OnDemand, with the pilot episodes of some of their new series already up. Look under "Entertainment." Since there's not much on this week, I may be watching some of those and deciding in advance what I'm going to actually add to my schedule. They do have a short little "how I spent my summer" thing on The Office, with each of the major characters doing a little interview segment. I wonder if this was made for the promo or if it's taken from the new season.

In other news, FenCon is this weekend. If I get a chance without being intrusive, I may try to interview Connie Willis for a column I do for Fresh Fiction (a book web site/newsletter). Since I know there are some Connie Willis fans here, what would you want to ask her?

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