1. You're driving in your rental car and Mr. Bojangles comes on the radio. That part comes on: His dog up and died, he up and died. After 20 years he still grieves. Tears start spurting out of your eyes.
2. You think it's fine to to turn left on red as long as you stop first.
3. You get back to your extended-stay room at HomeAway around midnight. Your sister, who left 15 minutes ahead of you, is waiting outside the door. Is she having a smoke? No. They've simply forgotten to put 2 more days on our key cards. The office closes at 11:00; no local emergency number; the operator says there is no 800 national number; and the person who answers the security number just laughs. Unless you break in, they can't be bothered. You try to break in. The only door you can manage to break into looking for an employee is the pool chemical storage door, so you get back in your rental car and drive til you find a Days Inn and check in there. You walk up the stairs to your room after going back out to the car to grab your computer, and your sister is already inside the room laughing hysterically. You join in.
4. You check your e-mail. A new job! An illustration for Art With Heart’s newest book for siblings of seriously ill children. A pro-bono project: they already have yes’s from Seymour Chwast, Molly Z, Julie Paschkis, Jim Paillot, Lisa Perrett, and others. And they already know which page they will assign you! But you know you can't even begin to deal with it, so you e-mail your rep back and say no.
The next day you feel terrible about saying no. I mean, there's the fact that they already know which page they would assign you! They must really have a feel for your work. It must be a wildly colorful page of kids having fun and getting into trouble. Plus, it's obvious by now that Seymour Chwast must have a huge thing for you. You e-mail your rep back and say you'll do it if they can send you the assignment now, so you can work it out on the plane. You check e-mail right before getting on the plane in Chattanooga. Nothing. You check e-mail during your layover in Cincinnati. Nothing.
When you get home, you check your e-mail again. The assignment has arrived. You open it. It's black and white page, called Kindness Counts. The copy reads: Are you a kind kid? How do you show kindness to yourself and to others? Draw it here. Find all the hidden hearts. There are___ in all! (Show kids being kind to the earth, to themselves and to others. In the drawing, add hidden hearts.)
You're the one who tortured your little sister: tried to pull her finger off and cut all her hair off on one side. The very word "sibling" has always given you the creeps. If you possess any self-knowledge at all, you know that a black & white drawing of siblings being kind to one another is something that would never occur to you in your wildest dreams. You e-mail your rep back.
5. You open the dryer door and squeeze all your dirty clothes in. Then you remember you have to put them in the washer first, so you take them all back out.
How You Can Tell When You're Back to Normal
You get home, unlock the door, and march straight to the refrigerator. You open an ice cold bottle of Hanna Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley). You get out the crackers and peanut butter. You set your computer on your placemat and start typing.
p.s. It was a hard trip. Mom isn't able to take care of herself, even in assisted living, even with Kesha's help. According to the folks at her joint, the wonderful Kesha will have to go anyway, because she isn't licensed and bonded. It was only a year ago that Mom moved to assisted living and the thought of helping her move again–to the "memory ward" or to a nursing home–is hard to bear and hard to fathom. She can't remember a thing that happened 5 seconds ago. However, her depth of feeling remains. And by afternoon, her quick laugh re-surfaces. The mornings are another story altogether and very depressing, although she's never been a morning person. Evenings are a thousand percent better, as evidenced below at City Cafe Diner.