Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stress and the Steering Wheel

I took a little trip to Los Angeles on Thursday.  Actually, there is no true "little trip" to LA.  There is only stress filled bouts with endless traffic that bring back memories of stress filled endless bouts of traffic from when I lived in Pasadena.  To complicate matters, I woke up late.  That is....I woke up late the second time I woke up.  The first time was at 4:30am - a reasonable hour if you are planning a three hour drive.  I laid back down....for just a sec....and rewoke at 6:15am....on a day when I needed to be near the LAX at 10:00am.  With no traffic, Google maps stated that the drive would take 2 hours and 12 minutes if I used the 73 (a toll road) to avoid the 405/5 interchange.  I tried to recalculate how long it would take with traffic.....hmmmmm....2 days.  A slight exaggeration but for those that have driven there, you know it only slight.   I looked for any toll road that I could pay $100.00 and have a clear shot....apparently it does not exist. 

I quickly showered, dressed and threw on makeup.  I do mean threw...I figured I would nervously be rubbing it off the whole way so accuracy really didn't matter.  I drive past Starbucks, making the adult decision to get coffee in LA.   I drove for exactly four minutes before....I hit San Diego morning traffic.  The only other way to attend this conference was to fly to Sacramento in October.  This did not look like a good option so I forged on.  Fortunately, the 52 opened up and I was on my way...a little stop and go but still moving forward.  At 9:00am, I was about 20 miles away...don't ask how.  The math will never add up; I can only say that I did take advantage of any sections with no traffic.  That 20 miles took a hour and five minutes.  I watched the clock blink the time at me...taking overtaking the pace of my speedometer.   To make matters worse, when I finally reached the street to pull off the highway, I missed it!  OK....don't panic....go down to the next street and take the same directions but just go one more street over....except...I couldnt' get to what I thought was the street.  Notice that I said "what I thought"...that should be a sign of the what happened next....a sign that my anxiety levels had removed all clarity and reason.  I ended up in a lane taking me to the do I turn around?....Ahhh....found it....back on the street....turn down the same street....go down two more....end up where I started.....back through the airport....I was in some mindless loop from the Twighlight zone.  I could see the hotel but there was no way to get there.  Until....I went down two blocks - the first place that I could make a U-turn and came back up to find that.....I had literally passed the hotel twice.....not on a main road....literally.....driven right past their driveway.  I think I'll do a  study on stress levels and brain activity....

I pulled into the parking lot to see "LOT FULL" and begin to reach hysteria.  I was already ten minutes late.  I pulled up to Valet and must have looked like I was going to break down.  I yelled out "Conference" and he pointed for a place to park my attendant ran over and gave me a stub while I threw her my fob.  On a side note...I was driving Eric's car.  Eric's car with the push start....the same car that I left running in the parking lot once after turning off the radio rather than the engine.  I glanced back....the car was off. 

I ran in, a concierge pointed to the conference and fortunately I had the sense to stop at the restroom.  I did not have the sense to grab a cup of coffee.  I sat down and was hit with...."We understand that you all do not want to take any breaks so you can get out by 3pm".   A chorus of voices around me saying "yes".....a chorus of voices attached to hands already holding coffee cups.  It was now 10:15am and I had no eaten or had anything to drink since the night before.   Feeling a bit dehydrated and undercaffeinated, I started taking notes.  The conference was actually a Director of Nurses Summit from the Board of Vocational Nurses.  It was both helpful and informative.  It became more so after 11am when they did decide to give us a five minute potty break.  I ran for coffee before she finished talking.

True to her word, we were finished at 3pm.  I grabbed my certificate and ran for the car, sustained by a yogurt and bag of nuts for the day.   I wanted to get back on the road before traffic hit.  I would eat further down the road in Orange County or Dana point.  Silly girl....tricks are for kids...and suckers that think that there is no traffic at 3pm in LA.  The 405 was already packed.  I did make one wrong turn on the way out and took an honorary trip back through the was my way of saying goodbye. 

Traffic was lighter, however, so I was able to go about 30 miles an hour at least.  I finally found the blessed toll road and headed south thinking that I would stop to eat on the 5 freeway.  That was when the news was coming in....everything from Orange County south was in a blackout.  No power....the truth hit fast food Startbucks...nothing would be open.  I realize that this is a minor fact when faced with larger issues of oxygen canisters and ventilators....but at that moment, I could only recount the days events and wonder if this wasn't some heaven sent punishment for the bowl of tortilla chips I had eaten the day earlier.  I swear...I'll never eat them again!

The trip home took four hours...really not bad since the trip up there took three and a half.  I met Eric at home and we grabbed what we could from the fridge to barbecue.  I found some candles and flashlights, realizing that I have watched waaaayyyyy to many horror films.  I kept thinking that something was going to tap me on the shoulder as I walked through our pitch black house...Loree, if your reading...I'm sorry that I made us see Gothika!  The one highlight of the evening was seeing the stars...there were no city lights to compete with them and they were truly beautiful.   I went to bed, full and content, and only a little worse for wear.  The DON summit takes place once a year in either LA or Sacramento.  Next year I'm flying to Sacramento. 

1 comment:

  1. I need to calm down after reading your ordeal! OMG! I feel like I was right there with you! ;-) Question: Can you tell us more about how you "loved" in Pasadena? ;-)