Thursday, December 13, 2007


High: Heavy snow predicted. Harvey Leonard breaks into huge grin, can't keep his hands off the weather map. Proceed at speed limit before snow starts to nearest supermarket to pick up two gallons of milk, a couple dozen eggs and two loaves of bread - per person in household.

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Doug just called me from just north of Boston. He left his office at 2:30pm. It is now nearly 8pm. He's gone 10 miles. He is on Rte 1 North in Saugus/Revere. He may get home by 10pm. I told him to pull over at the first restaurant he sees and get a good meal in him, and relax. Right now though, he just wants to get the hell home.

I'd totally be sitting in Orzo's in about 40 minutes, because it will take him that long to get to that point on Rte 1. But that's me, not him.

I feel for him. I really do.

Seeing as I'm now home, safe and sound, I thought I'd whip up a quick batch of french toast and share the news of my commute with you. As the above shows, the current French Toast Alert in Boston is "High." At about 12:30 this afternoon, me and the new guy in the office set out to buy lunch. The snow was just starting. He's from south of Boston but has lived in California for many years. I could tell he was excited, nervous and ... excited. Snow. Right when he gets back. Perfect timing. And he faced a hellacious commute. Worse than mine. And I complain about my commute all the livelong day.

Gretchen basically told us to get the hell out around 2pm. I was working on something that I wanted to finish, so I stuck it out to 3pm. We all kind of left at the same time. I hope New Guy isn't sitting on the highway south of Boston trapped like my husband. Jesus lord, no.

Anyway -- I pulled out of the office parking lot and started my ride home. I noticed at the VFW hall that there was a blood drive going on.

A blood drive, scheduled months ago, and happening on the worst, most snowiest day ever.


These folk were all set up for business and there were literally no cars in the parking lot. It has been several months since I last donated blood. I figured, I'm going to be trapped in traffic for hours to come, why not make an hour worth someone's while.

I pulled into the parking lot and went into the building -- the volunteers were overjoyed to see me. One other guy was there, getting fawned over by about 10 little old Marblehead ladies. Half turned their attention to me.

"Oh! Oh thank you for coming out in this! Oh dear! You are so wonderful! Thank you!"

Um, I was just driving by, thought I'd stop in. I made no heroic effort to turn left into the parking lot... but hey! I'm a whore for love and attention and praise, so keep pilin' it on, cute little old lady!

They processed me immediately. Three of the women there knew me by face. I give blood a lot, or as often as I can. So they welcomed me back and one said "Don't you live kind of far away?"

Yes. I do. Far away from Marblehead indeed. But. I'm here -- you're here. Love the one you're with, baby! Let's do this thing!

I was in and out of there in a half an hour. A record for me giving blood, which usually takes like 90 minutes with the waiting and the questions and the test my iron and take my blood pressure-ness.

The phlebotomist who took my blood was very unhappy to be there. I could tell she was nervous about her ride home to Lexington from Marblehead. I knew she was thinking about the roads and the danger. I told her "You're doing good things, which is why you're here and it is why I stopped. It's like ...Karma. You'll be rewarded for your staying. And hopefully I'll be rewarded for coming in here and taking the time to give your sacrifice of time value."

Geoff calls it being "Karma-lized" when good things happen when you do good things, and bad things happen when you do bad. He's learned a lot from "My Name is Earl."

But it's true. I left the office and wanted to be Karma-lized. I wanted to not be trapped for elevendy hours on rte 114 in Peabody just trying to get near the highway. I knew it had been far longer than I usually let it go between blood donations, and they were there for a reason. I thought of my friend Carrie's father in law who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia. I thought of how important blood would be to someone who was in an accident in the snow.

So I stopped. I think I made the phlebotomist feel better, and she nailed the insertion of the needle into my arm on the first take, which always makes me happy because my veins are a bitch to find and they usually have to try three or four sticks before they get me. So she had a big smile on her face, and held my hand for a little while longer than I think she usually would have.

And it made me feel Karma-lized.

After I gave blood I got into the car, and in the period of time I was in the building there were 3 more inches of snow on my car. Doug called at that point and said he'd made it from his parking garage to the ramp to go into the tunnel. Less than a quarter mile. 90 minutes. Holy crap. I knew he was in for it. I proceeded homeward.

I was stuck behind someone who was driving in the CENTER of West Shore Drive. CENTER. At 4 miles per hour. I couldn't pass on the right, because there just wasn't enough room, and there certainly wasn't enough room on the left because, well, dude was in the center of the road. I was trapped for a good long time, and eventually got to pass. I was letting the Karma-lized feeling relax me (or was it the cheez-its and wooziness of giving blood? who knows?)

Eventually we got to an intersection where I could pass this car. I expected to see an ancient gentleman in a hat. Lovingly referred to as a Hat Wearing Q-tip in my household. Instead, I glanced askance to see what was a woman, no older than I, who was just gawking at the sky, the streetlights, the everythingness about the air around her. At 4 miles an hour. Traffic was backed up to France because of her. And she was ... dreamily lookin' at the sky and the stuff falling. La la la. As Brian Reagan's bit about "Me Monsters" and "go ahead, Mr. You Universe!" echoed through my brain, I managed to slowly pick my way towards the highway, stopping periodically to whack ice off of my windshield wipers.

All told, it took me 2.5 hours for the drive. 3 hours if you count the giving blood portion. I got home to find Jessica making dinner per my emailed instructions, and Geoff feeding the dogs. Everyone seemed in great spirits, and life is good here at the house. It is the one thing I am amazingly thankful for when stuff like this happens -- that my kids are finally at an age where if I should become trapped overnight on a highway somewhere and I need to sleep in my car (rather than abandon it on the side of the road) they'll survive the night. Hallelujah.

Doug will be okay. He'll maybe make it home by 9. I think the kids will have no school tomorrow, and my husband will be in no big hurry to rush back into the city to get to work. He said "I should have just stayed at my desk to right about 8pm. I bet that would have worked out much better for me."

Long and the short of it is, if Jess wasn't making chili, I would have made French Toast. I am happy to be home, reading the travails and triumphs of those in the region who have also made it back to a PC somewhere to share their stories. My body is a pint lower in blood, but I'm feeling happy and relaxed. Now I'm off to watch some Thursday Night Football and continue to pray for my husband as he drives north. Maybe he's at Orzos or Bertuccis by now... eating dinner. Maybe he's on his way home. Regardless. The fire is hot and the wine is chilled and I will be happy when he is back here in the Older Than America colonial house we share.

If you're out there -- I pray for you too. If you've made it home, I hope that wasn't you who abandoned your Mercedes in the middle of the road. Dude... it isn't the Blizzard of 78. It's just a snowstorm.

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