Like tulip-beds of different shape and dyes,
~ Thomas Moore,
Lalla Rookh--The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan
TODAY on TV
17 April 2004
Fortunately, there was nobody in the car when I screamed. It was a primal scream that came from my toes and exploded out over my vocal cords so that an hour later, I still had a sore throat.
I notice that the entry for April 16, 2002 was "Bev and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." Maybe it's something about the date because today certainly qualifies for that description!
I hardly know what to say about today, except that unless I figure it out it's going to be a rather boring entry, so let's just say that the best way to describe today is that it was a day for running around in circles.
It started rather calmly, waking up at 6 a.m., and getting some computer software installed on Diane's computer. That involved a couple of phone calls and e-mails to fill in information that I'd forgotten to bring with me about the installation itself. Ultimately it did work. So far things were going sort of OK.
The plan was to drive Diane to work and then take her car for the day so I could take my mother down to her friend's house. I had my directions from Yahoo and I was confident things would go swimmingly.
The trip to Diane's office was fine; she was driving and knew where she was going. Since I was last here, her office (she heads up the medical transcription department for the University of Washington) has been moved from 5 minutes from her house to about 30 minutes from her house. She doesn't go by freeway because of rush hour traffic and because back roads are more scenic. But she gave me directions for getting home by freeway, figuring that trying to navigate the roads over which we had just come would be too complicated.
First I got the cook's tour of the office, which is in an old warehouse. Having come from a fairly small hospital setting, where I worked for a number of years, seeing a real medical records department was somewhat mind blowing.
This is just one of many, many aisles full of files!
It was when I was taking the above photo that I realized I had left my secure digital card, which I had efficiently removed from my camera to clear off so I'd have lots of room to take tulip photos, sitting on my desk at home. I had brought both cameras with me. The "good" camera had no disk in it; the smaller camera had a 16 mb disk in it, which will take about 30 pix total. I realized that if I was going to have to get a new secure digital disk, which I didn't need and which I would have to pay top dollar for. I was not happy with myself.
Then it was time to get in the car and head home. Diane had given me more simple directions for how to get home via freeway. It think it's fair to say that the turn I took out of the grounds where Diane's office is was the only accurate turn I made the entire day.
I found the freeway all right and though her directions clearly said to turn right onto the freeway, having gotten turned around in my head on the drive to the office, I thought I needed to turn left. It wasn't until I saw the Space Needle that I realized why all the numbers were going in the wrong direction. I got off, turned around, and headed back to Diane's house.
I have been here many times and knew the offramp just fine, but I missed the turn into her town and ended up back on the freeway again so had to go to the next offramp, get off, turn around, and come back into town again.
My mother and I loaded her stuff into the car and I stopped at Office Max on my way to the freeway. Office Max had 256 mb SDs for sale and while it was more than I wanted to pay, it wasn't that bad. I took the card for the disk to customer service, only to find they had none in stock. She tried to sell me two 128 mb disks. I asked if she would give them to me for the sale price of the one 256 mb disk and she said she couldn't do that. I didn't have time to argue and by the time I paid for one disk, it cost me $3 less than the sale price for the disk that was double the size. I was not happy, especially since I had a perfectly good disk sitting on my desk at home.
But owell, it's only money, right? Off we headed to the freeway. Miraculously, I did manage to find I-5 and we headed south--again, miraculously, it was the right direction.
Betty lives in Maple Valley and the Yahoo directions said to take Hwy 169 in to Maple Valley and turn off at 228th S.E. (streets in this neck of the woods are all numbered. Betty's son Doug tells me that it's because it was designed by an engineer who didn't have the imagination to use more colorful names). We knew we were getting close when we passed 216th S.E., but the very next street was 231th S.E. whaaa????
OK. 231st S.E. was a somewhat major looking road and Yahoo said we were supposed to go 21 miles on 169 and we hadn't quite reached that distance, so maybe 228th was beyond 231st. It wasn't.
We went to the next two streets and numbers kept getting higher. I turned around to drive back thru town and see if maybe I really had missed 228th. Now I should mention that the little problem with this is that central Maple Valley is undergoing massive road repair so it is filled with cones, and machinery and workmen, and large traffic backups. I had already gone through that mess once and was not eager to do it again, but we turned around and did it.
No. There really was no 228th S.E. I decided to try following 231st...228th was supposed to turn into 240th and maybe they just got the street names wrong. But they hadn't. 231st took us out into the country and away from housing tracts. But we did find 228th S.E. STREET. We were looking for PLACE, not street.
Another u-turn (I am starting to call this the "Pat Peck Memorial Tour"). Back to 169 again. The one smart thing I'd done before I left home (other than forgetting the smart digital card and the information I needed to install Diane's software) was to put Betty's and Doug's phone numbers into my cell phone. For once I was glad to have a cell phone. I had my mother call Betty and explain where we were.
We were on 169 right in front of McDonald's and Betty said that we should turn left. So I start to turn left, in front of the workmen, the traffic cones, the traffic, and the machines...and into a shopping center. While I'm making the turn, my mother is saying "I can't remember Doug's phone number--here...you memorize it while I tell it to you."
It became obvious that Betty, who is 87, has lived in Maple Valley for 2 years, but hasn't yet learned the name of any street, or the location of any landmark (like city hall, the main mall, McDonald's or any other landmark I could spot).
Finally, I pulled over to check my cell phone and see if I had Doug's phone number in it. I did. I called him and told him I was parked at the Chevron Station beneath a Quizno's. He laughed and told me I was only 1/4 mile away and he'd be right there.
He came and led us to Betty's (which turned out to be in the housing tract where we had turned around the first time we headed back through all the traffic mess!) and then we went to Doug's house to pick up his daughter so we could go to lunch. As we passed 260th St and on to the next street...it was 228th S.E. Sigh.
Lunch was...interesting. Betty, who was my sister's godmother and has been a friend of my mothers for over 60 years, is extraordinarily proud of graduating from Stanford which is one of the highlights of her life. I hadn't seen her son Doug since he was 10 (and he is in his late 40s now, I believe) but I happened to be sitting opposite Betty at lunch and she literally spent the entire lunch telling me the history of Stanford University, her life there, and her accomplishments since graduation. I don't think the words "and what's happening in your life?" escaped her lips--and I didn't get to talk with Doug (whom I found absolutely delightful) at all, or get to find out anything about his daughter.
(One thing was interesting, though. I sat there realizing that we were three mothers who had all buried children. Betty's son, who was my age, died of cancer several years ago.)
After lunch, my mother went with Betty and Doug and I headed back to Diane's house. Only I missed the turn to I-5 and ended up on I-405 much longer than I should have. I kept hoping to find a way to get to I-5 and finally stopped in Everett, I town I knew was "in the area" to ask how to get to I-5 (by now it was too late to go to Diane's house and I was just trying to get to her office by 4 p.m., when she was expecting me to arrive). The service station attendant told me to stay on 405 and it would eventually connect with I-5. At least I had done something right.
The problem is that the 405 connects with I-5 at 202nd and I was trying to get to 145th. I had overshot the exit by a long way. I turned north, thinking I was headed in the right direction, but I wasn't. Two offramps later, I got off yet again, turned around yet again, and headed back in the right direction.
(The motor died as I was heading into the offramp; fortunately Diane had warned me that this might happen, and I was able to shift into neutral and restart the motor before the traffic behind me got testy.)
At this time, I called Diane just to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Yes, I was one of those horrible people who talk on the cell phone while in the car--but at that moment we were at a standstill, bumper to bumper traffic and it didn't really matter.
By the time I got to 145th, I had gone over and over and over things in my mind and was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I knew which way I had to turn when I got off the freeway.
After a couple of miles when the road ended I turned around yet again and backtracked. I finally found Lake City Way (a street with a real NAME) and recognized the McDonald's where I'd turned about 100 hours before, that morning. Confidently, I turned in the proper direction (I KNEW this time that it was right). There were only two more turns to make. One onto Sandpoint Way and the other into the complex where Diane worked. I was almost home free.
Nobody told me that Sandpoint does not intersect with Lake City Way and that at some point Sandpoint becomes 125th and that I should be looking for 125th. It was after I'd passed 125th and found myself heading out into the boonies again and had to turn around yet again that I uttered the primal scream. I really just wanted to pull the car over to the curb and cry.
I finally went with what I thought I remembered were the right kind of houses and turned onto 125th. I stopped a woman at a bus stop and asked her where Sand Point was. She pointed up the hill and said that 125th would become Sand Point at that place.
I had finally found it.
When I left Diane this morning, I told her I'd be back at her office at 4. While I may have an absolutely abominable sense of direction, I have impeccable timing and when I pulled onto the grounds of the office, by the clock in the car it was 4 p.m. on the dot and 4:02 when I parked the car.
I will not be driving tomorrow.
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