Monday, December 21, 2009

Joyous Yule and Merry Christmas

Like Paris, I've been deep in my writing in order to finish a project. However, my lack of Christmas spirit wasn't so much that I forgot about things because I was so focused on my writing. Rather, I was denying myself holiday decorations and music because I was afraid they'd sidetrack me.

You see I'm fighting with a short story set in the month of May and it's not finished. BUT right now I'd much rather work on one or two holiday WIPs that I want to complete for next year while I'm feeling the holiday mood. I have SO wanted to abandon this short story but I know I can't. I have to finish it because it's part of a series with some other authors. So I've been denying myself Christmas until I finish it. Well, on Saturday I realized that denying myself wasn't getting the story written any faster than if I enjoyed the holiday.

Saturday, I put up my Christmas tree and added lights. However...I had a problem. Lights that covered the tree last year only covered about 2/3 of the tree this year. Same tree cause I do artificial. But after last week, what with falling on my butt and suffering from back pain I had NO intention of redoing the lights. Just wasn't gonna happen, so I decided I needed more lights. Therein lies an adventure.

I woke up Sunday morning with not too much back pain. I knew there weren't any multi-color LED Christmas tree lights to be had locally. So I called to the big city nearby, Des Moines. In a metropolis of a couple of million surely there were some LED lights somewhere. None of the Wal-marts I called had any. ANY. So I called Target. Yes they had plenty.

So I dragged myself outta bed (yes, I was laying in bed while I called - GPS on the phone is awesome). I showered and dressed and drove out into the pretty morning. Snow was gently falling all around. This should have been my first clue. It wasn't. I was turning a corner and slid. I eased out of it and drove past the turn and went to turn around. On the return trip, I made the turn and headed out of town.

I drove myself out onto the interstate on a mission. To light my Christmas tree or die in the attempt. Little did I know... I got out onto the interstate and one lane was clear but the other...not so much. No icing but plenty of snow. To those who say, but Francesca why didn't you turn around? Two reasons. Number 1? I'm an Iowan and we aren't scared by a little stinkin' snow. Number 2? I'm nuts. Seriously. By the time I got home I decided I was certifiable.

Hands tightly grasped around the steering wheel I cursed every idiot who passed me in the left lane. Why? Because when they did I couldn't see! When a semi passed me on a bridge I found religious convictions I didn't know I had cause I was praying NOT to run into the guard rail. I didn't. God looks out for fools and Iowans on a mission to find Christmas tree lights. Of course, those two things are synonomous, but I digress...

I kept moving westward. Determined to forge ahead. At times the road wasn't toooo bad. At times I'd look on the other side of the interstate and see cars in the ditch and think I was nuts. But as I passed an off ramp or two, I decided the interstate was a much better prospect. I-80 wasn't completely snow covered, but the off ramps were. So onward I went. Finally, after much white knuckled driving I reached my destination completing my pilgrimmage. Yes, dear friends I found LED lights. MULTI-COLOR mini Christmas tree lights.

This should be my HEA. I drive home and put up my tree...ta-da! However, it didn't happen quite like that.

I did get back to my car and returned to the interstate without incident. In fact, I thought it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way because by now the road crews had been out. The interstate had been plowed and sanded. Cars were moving at a pretty good clip too. However, about half way home, traffic slowed considerably. But it was no longer snowing much and the road was merely wet, not icy or snowy. When three tow trucks (one specifically for semis) went past, I knew why we were going slow. An accident. A bad one. As we came up to an exit, they were routing all traffic off there but you couldn't even see where the accident was.

So I followed along with the other cars and sheep we drove off into the Iowa countryside on snowy back roads. It was like the drive in had been, except now it was two lane instead of four. Arrrrgh. We all drove through a small town and back into the country again. Always looking for a way back to the interstate. I followed the trucks because they looked like they knew where they were going. I sure didn't.

I've lived in the area about five years, but I don't drive back roads much. I wasn't completely sure where I was and I didn't want to go digging in the glove box for a map with crappy roads and tight traffic. So I followed. If, at that moment, Rise up shepherd and follow had started to play on the radio it would have felt somewhat appropriate. Except we weren't following any star in the east. We were searching for a way back to the interstate.

On we went through the rolling snow covered country side. As we came to another small town, it started to snow again. I thought "oh crap." Until I realized I knew where I was. So I made the left turn to drive through this town and without more hassle than that we were headed for the interstate. I entered the on ramp and wanted to cuss because there were vehicles out there going the same direction as I wanted to go. Which meant...yes, while we'd been meandering in the back of beyond, they had reopened the interstate. Grrrrr. The rest of the trip was almost an anti-climax except for the fact that was so glad to be home when I finally got there!!!

I turned on a few Christmas movies, watched some Christmas PBS specials and finished putting the lights on my tree and then put on some of my favorite ornaments. At the end of the day, my tree looked so pretty and I was so very glad I quit withholding pleasure from myself.

The moral of the story? Punishing myself didn't work. If I had just gone ahead and put the tree up at Thanksgiving, I could have bought my extra lights locally and not had such a hair-raising trip to Des Moines on a Sunday morning when I would have done much better off lazing in bed.

P.S. No, I didn't take the snowy road shots (check out the links), however those are approximately the driving conditions I was dealing with so yes, I am certifiable.

Have a joyous Yule, a Happy Hannukah, a Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa everyone!


Crystal Kauffman said...

Oh My God. I must be a whimp because I hate driving in California. When it rains, everyone becomes...Rainman. As in Dustin Hoffman. Okay bad analogy because he could actually drive. But nobody here can! I swear, it's like you take away the half of the brain that knows how to drive.

But I could never deal with that. You are insane. And for Christmas tree lights? I wouldn't go out in that if my husband cut his finger off. I'd be like, honey, tape it up. They can't reattach it anyway.

I will never live where it snows. Florida is looking better and better.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...Francesca I know exactly what you are saying about driving in the snow. I've been back in MN for nearly 20 years, but I learned to drive in TX...I was shocked when I found out what "driving in snow" was all about! ;)

Glad you got back safely and with your lights! Have a Merry Christmas.

Savanna Kougar said...

Francesca, tried to comment on Monday... but my hard drive went nuts with a virus...

Yep, you are definitely crazy. And, truth to tell, I've gone on similar adventures... it's this weird motivation... glad it all worked out and you got your lights!