Writing this in the wee hours (apologies if the spelling and grammar are even more appalling than usual) for slightly-less-wee hours posting purposes, as I have a chiropractic appointment (about bloody time too, as my neck has been in knots for a week now – largely because the cat has decided that sleeping in my armpit is all the rage, so I end up sleeping all pretzel-y) at 9 and would like to either go for a run beforehand or walk to the Glebe for my adjustment. I really haven’t moved much at all lately, so between that and feeling like a whiny teenaged lon/ser, I’ve been a really sour old cow. I do not like when that happens.

On Tuesday, I finally decided that my finances won’t allow me to fly away to visit friends/family until at least the end of February, which is a pity because I think, for the first time in years, winter is one of the haberdashers responsible for the bitch hat (no fringe, just whinge) I’ve been wearing. My finances are fairly precarious right now because, as usual, I spent too much on Christmas. I didn’t even have a lot of presents to buy, but I still spent beyond my means. I wish I didn’t do that. I know people make empty promises about not buying anything for anyone and just making a donation to charity instead, but I am really getting close to doing that next year because, while thought still goes into it, there’s not the same pressure of ‘will this fit?’, ‘wait, do they have this book already?’, and ‘shit, I know they’re allergic to nuts, but is coconut a nut?’ (no lie, I went to look this up in a moment of gifty worry – BTW, it’s a seed/fruit, not a true nut).

Of course, I decided to (for once) be fiscally responsible on the day when a friend asked ‘Hey, aren’t you coming to California?’ in response to a particularly whiny status update on Facebook. Oh dear. I hope I am.*

I really do. California is a strange place, at least the places of I’ve been (L.A. and bits of Orange County), but I quite liked it. I’d get tired of having to drive everywhere all the time, but one of my favourite ever driving memories is that of a very long trek to my friends Ruth and Brian’s house in Sherman Oaks from Culver City (I didn’t go on the freeway, having taken Clueless and L.A. Story a bit too seriously). At one point, the GPS (which recommended u-turns on a regular basis on streets that clearly said ‘no u-turns’, as well as taking me so far out of the way that I probably went halfway to San Francisco) advised me to “turn right on W Sunset Boulevard and continue for 13 miles”. The distances are insane. It took forfreakingever. (BTW, freeways aren’t that bad, though I’ve never seen so many speedtraps in my life.)

I didn’t have a data plan on my phone at the time, but, after I figured out how to turn on the ‘don’t recommend u-turns’ option on the GPS, I spent a chunk of change looking up the local NPR station anyway because I don’t really have the patience for commercial radio in any country. (Even in Iceland, it sounds the same as in Ottawa. Or Birmingham. Or Miami. Just in, y’know, Martian.) There was some boring play on, but I was too tired to figure out a better option for listening. It was nearly midnight, after all, and my friends were staying up to await my arrival.

I kept driving. I ended up in the Hollywood Hills and it was getting ridiculous late, it was very foggy, and I was on Mulholland Drive, knowing full well there was basically a cliff face on at least one side of me, but I couldn’t be sure which one. And people kept passing me in the dark at very high speed (like, 40 whole miles an hour!). I was terrified.

And then…a familiar tune came on the radio. And there was a familiar voice too. It was Barbara Budd. “As It Happens” had just started.

As David Lynch moments go, it’s super tame, but in that moment, I burst at laughing at the incongruity of something so homegrown, so Canadian, coming out of the car stereo when I was out of my depth, convinced I was going to crash my rental car, having just be talked at by Tim Robbins, that I had to pull over because sheer glee was clouding my judgment even more than the fog was. I’m not one for omens, but it snapped me right out of my panic and got me through to the other side of the hills.

Maybe Los Angeles will help snap me out of my funk (once I get there next month). Maybe I should just listen to more CBC than I currently do (which is far less than usual). Or maybe NPR is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But thinking back on this, I’m reminded that I’m always capable of much more than I think I am and getting out of this winter funk is not as insurmountable as it seemed earlier this week.

* Also, I hope that one day I grow up enough to stop being a brat on Facebook.

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