Read Reduction

Used to be I had a reading pile. A to-be-read stack of whole magazines or just torn pages, books I picked up for free, printed online articles I didn’t have time to sit down and devote to immediately and knew I’d never find them again. Links can die, you know. Especially after a few years.

Well, I stopped all that physical periodical hoarding. Inspired by an accidental find years ago. 2014; while perusing positive topics for what used to be an email and US Mail based Midweek Encouragement Newsletter. ME News existed in an era otherwise known as ‘pre-blog.’

In the basest form of self-trickery for knowledge seekers, I canceled nearly all of the clutter subscriptions that lead to clutter. Nearly.

Costco and AAA send me monthly periodicals whether I want them or not. I subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer monthly rag. I could stop them simply, but then, how would I know where all the good stuff is happening in Michigan, or discover why a certain product is better than another? Without endless key-word internet surfing for hours, I mean.

Plus, I’d also lose out on letters and phrases. Grade school, I’ve always loved collage. Went through an interesting and a bit obsessive, huge, collage cut-and-paste phase in college. Began as sorority-sister aimed birthday cards on budget. Ala kindergartener-ish: find a pretty picture, add some happy, descriptive 1500 level words and voila!

I also went through a band-love phase where I would use every print version of the band name I could find and pauperize it into wall hanging. I had a double 8”x14” pair-themed set of Duran Duran fonts proudly displayed in my first dorm room. Hmm. Who am I kidding?

So, maybe both of those things weren’t phases. I’m obviously still in a band-loving stage. And, I still cut out words and phrases. Anyway, the point is, now even just those three founts of info tend to heap on my coffee table. Not a real problem. I break them down, take what I need as I read through, recycle the bulk and end up with smaller piles.

My digital stash is overwhelming, though. I leave large articles unread until I have the time. I gold-star articles that may be of use in the future. I subscribe to a few special interest daily/weekly emails for things I am truly interested in. I’d really like to engage with these lurking lessons. I’m really a little stressed out that I will never catch up and, yet, I continue to pull and hold.

826, 180, 11, 109 emails awaiting my attention. Some are new. About 600 are marked for future, do not delete articles, updates, initiatives. Surprisingly the 826 is not my junk box. It also dates from 2010 forward. Pictures, scratch writing, thoughts – these aren’t a concern to me. I’ll get to them. When? Well, when I do.

There’s def a need to tackle. Do I start with one source and read straight through? Oldest to newest in unrelated order? Sort and scour by topic? By informative value or creative enjoyment? Ugh.

This all sounds way too much like a lot of pre-work to manage my actual desire.

The Minimalists, Podcast 286: Enoughism

The C’s, One More Thing (Only Me)

I made it back to my home desk an hour later than planned. Luckily, I have a thick vacation bank and sometimes the energy to flex an hour or so longer to find a clean place to stop.

Sliding into my seat, I felt the death-glare before I located the source. Gray cat on a gray carpet throwing laser beams. I apologized to HBlu, again, but fore-warned him. “We’re going back. Because, I love you. Amendously.”

While I was trying to figure out a prioritization balance between what needs the most attention and what seems most urgent, my phone flashed in a weird disco-ish way.

Two calls at once. Quite the anomaly for me. Ringer one was a colleague. The other was the vet’s office. I took the coworker call. At the end of our brief check-in, the vet called, again.

The caller asked me to go take a look at Harley Blu’s med that we’d picked up at the visit. She aske if HBlu’s name was on the bottle. It wasn’t. There was name there, but it was followed by ‘canine.’ It had already been determined that the medication contained was the correct one, but I compared it to the pills left from the last Rx and confirmed that for myself, as well.

I was asked if I could bring them back, because one of the prescriptions given was a narcotic and they needed to correct the owner’s names for their dispensary records. I explained that I had been one of the front-row right-outside-the- front-door sitters waiting for a jump and had already dropped my car off to be examined.

Oddly enough, the other car with the canine got my label and I got theirs. Maybe our difficulties were some sort of cosmic delay so that the office could notice their problem while we were still there. If so, the universe failed us, all.

But, that’s not the important part. Or maybe it was, because it became a catalyst for this revelation.

I’ve mostly adjusted to the odd and unusual situations I find myself in.

I think there’s a pre-programmed, mental-shrugging mechanism that becomes active in over-accepting, mid-life minds. I mean, by the time you’ve heaved over the hump, you’re aware stuff goes wrong and freak outs aren’t really worth the effort, anymore.

Quote for the Week:

ps. amendously isn’t a real dictionary word. It is, however, a 100% original Knabbler word.

The Six C’s (Only Me) (Conclusion)

Surly, I sorely half-eavesdropped on the success story’s parting instructions.  Let the car run for x-amount of time to recharge, and it will be fine. Seemed like standard advice.

After sliding the truck back a few feet so fixed guy and his happy car could drive away from our odd little coincidental group, the AAA car-whisperer came back to me. Contemplative, he decided to jump aboard my unrealistic optimism train. As evidenced, the jump box wasn’t the problem. So, we tried again. Cranked, the car weakly sneezed and let out a light aluminum wheeze.

Towman theorized I had an ignition problem or a faulty starter that was de-juicing my battery. 

He headed for his rig in search of what I thought would be some other sort of stronger hook-up jumper.

My mind immediately flitted to those pesky ignition-recall postcards I’ve been receiving for about 5 years. The alert cautioned my 2007 ignition could malfunction if the cumulative weight of many keys and an abundance of dangler/flash on a keyring were too heavy. My own personal and very wise car advisor told me not to worry about it years ago, too. He’s super smart and logical, and cares about cars, so I always listen to his vehicular wisdom.

Once my geriatric Pontiac was cabled to the heavy-duty truck’s engine, it slowly woke up and chugged itself into a running engine. Revivification and relief!

After unhooking and putting away equipment, the fixer came back with a clipboard. I’d seen him check the VIN on the car next to me, so I asked if I should get out so he could get in. “Nah,” he replied, going on to infer that it was unlikely after all this time spent together that I was stealing the oldie and someone else’s cat in the back-seat.

 “Didja hear what I told that guy?” he asked me. “Sort of,” I said.

“Well, that doesn’t apply to you.”

He advised I go straight home without stopping anywhere, without turning it off. Additional recommendation included backing the car into my driveway or garage, because it’d be easier to hook up if I needed a tow somewhere, later.

I decided it’d be smarter just to take my car straight to Ron’s Garage.

I called, explained my recent car odyssey and asked if I could drop it off.  As usual, they gave me an easy ‘yes.’

Incident behind me, conclusion in front of me, I set out on my HBlu-barking trek home. 10 miles later I dropped the little struggler off.

The car. Not the cat.

Quote for the week:

The 5 C’s, Continued (Only Me)

Curious. Curious things happen to me.

I had briefly entertained the notion that it might be wise to ask the next-to-me car dude for a jump. By then, it’d already been a little over an hour. I considered it probably wouldn’t be that much longer. Besides, the slowly lowering slouchy-ness just didn’t seem that approachable.

Shortly, the tow truck rolled in. I opened my door to wave and saw him see me. Making a loop around the parking lot, the driver pulled up directly behind me. Absolutely, blocking the other guy in.

Just as the driver jumped out, the door on the car next door swung open. The pretty blues and purples caught my eye as I watched the owner exit, shoulders a little high.

“Oh, no,” I thought. “He’s gonna make a scene because now he can’t get out.”

I jumped out of my dead ride and called over the roof, all cheerful-like intending to diffuse whatever. “Hi,” I waved. “I’m the one who needs help…”

“I know,” the operator called back. “I couldn’t believe it! What are the chances that two people parked next to each other would both need a jump and both call AAA?”

Holographic car guy turned around to look at me.  Astonished, I told him that I had almost asked him for a jump. He said, he’d almost asked me for one, too.

Pulling all of the necessary cables and gear behind him, he stopped at my car first. A few fumbles later I pulled the correct lever hard enough to unlatch my hood. A quick hook-up and a crank and… a flock of moshing, honking-seagulls made themselves known.

“Hmm.” There’s nothing as quietly unnerving as a mechanically inclined person looking down into your car guts muttering, “Hmm…” (I take that back. It’s much worse when a doctor does that to you.)

A little tinkering movement later I heard, “Try it, again.”

Optimistically, I did. The cymbal smashing squirrels made a half-hearted effort, their odd exuberance was dying.

He stepped away, shaking his head and toting his gathered equipment over to the azure-royal morphing carriage parked adjacently. I called my phone-a-friend-back. “You’re never gonna believe this,” I stated, filling her in on the so-far status of my latest adventure.

I got a little creative in my thinking, at that point. Was there some kind of magnetic suck coming from the holistic health for pets place? Were we near a malfunctioning transformer?

Obviously not, since pretty-car started to purr right away. Yeah, on the first try.

Quote for the Week:

The Four C’s, Continued (Only Me)

(Correction: someone pointed out that there are four C’s. Ok, fine. Cat, Chiropractic, Car & … Correction or Continued. Or, maybe, Carrots, because I had to toss two wilted ones last week. ) 😉

In what seems like a significantly too short a time, HBlu is on his way back to me.

As he is being re-lodged in the back seat, I begin my questioning.

“Wait,” I say. “We’re supposed to pick up his thyroid medication. It was ordered last week. Did he get his blood draw to check that the thyroid med isn’t harming his liver? Did he get his steroid shot? How did he present? Did he hiss or flinch when his back was adjusted? Should he still be on the pain meds?”

Yep, I’m that crazy cat mama.

Back he went; back out he came. He was reported to be a sweet boy, still very tight and hunching, but no fussing or hissing. Seems like HBlu reserves that stuff for only me. Blood drawn, meds in hand. Great! Off we go, ahead of schedule.

Or, not. The strangest thing: turning the key released 50 deranged woodpeckers ambushing my engine.

My first thought was, “What? I got here just fine.” Truly, the car started without any trouble at home. I mean, key in, crank, tah-dah!

Ok. Any doors open? Nope. Any warning lights? Nope. In park? Yep. The anti-theft blinking red dot was engaged. Hmm. I locked and unlocked or unlocked and locked the doors and tried again.

The peckers were replaced by a marching band of squirrels made up entirely of cymbals.

Because denial is ingrained trait of mine, I waited about 30 seconds and attempted a 3rd try.

A conga line of long-nailed, tap-dancing vermin-fans of the Squirrel Band partied on behind them.

At this point, second guessing sets in. “What? Did I suddenly forget how to start a car?”

I gave my engine a full 60 seconds to clear its throat, positive it would get a grip on itself and start.

Nope. Same awful ratcheting noise.

One big calming breath later, I pulled out my AAA card and made the call of defeat.

AAA is 100% automated now. But, brilliantly, they will send you a link to click which will help the rescuer pin-point you. Which, 100% beats my, “Um, I’m off US-12, behind a Tim Horton’s, in an office strip mall, in front of a vet’s office” would-be offering.

Appreciatively, the kindly, yet sterile, robotic informed me my approximate wait time would be 1 hour and 15 minutes.

So, I phoned a friend. Chatted, waited. Waited, chatted. Checked the arrival time update and it had moved 10 minutes in the wrong direction. Harrumph, but… Ok.

As it got closer to my supposed saving, I began the pivoting, neck-stretch search. I was watching the driveway entrance and noticed the car next to me had a holographic purple hued blue coat. It was a really pretty and distracting color. I sat there contemplating whether it could be a custom color or if I could get a car like that. Ponderance complete, I glanced over at the driveway.

No savior insight, on my eye-swing back, I noticed that the car alongside me had an agitated driver. On the phone. Staring at me. Or staring back at my unfocused stare. Clearly not amused.

Quote for the Week: