Colorado, Takes I and II

The universe is trying to tell me something about Colorado, and I’m still not quite sure what it is.

On April 15, I had to make a decision about where I would spend the next three years of my life. You know, no pressure. Didn’t make me want to crawl under the covers and cry or anything.

This whole “major life decision” deal necessitated that I spend basically the two weeks prior to Decision Day flying around the western half of the country like an idiot, visiting schools. Before you chide me for putting ALL of them off to the last minute, let me defend myself: I didn’t intend to put ALL of them off to the last minute, I was only going to put all but ONE off. Totally way better.

The one I wasn’t going to put off was U-Colorado, and it was totally by accident. In early March, I got accepted on a Thursday; their admitted students day was the following Friday. Didn’t think it was going to work out to go, but by some miracle flight prices dropped at the last minute and would allow me to make an extremely brief trip. Fly out Thursday, connect through Miami, spend Friday in Boulder, redeye back through Miami Friday night. Perfect plan. (Spoiler alert: Not perfect!)

Let’s just see how this one went down: Miami has tornadoes (what?!), flight gets delayed, connecting flight leaves on time even though the gate agent PROMISED it wouldn’t, Jane gets stuck in Miami with no way to get to Denver in time for the open house. Jane spends 1.5 hours in MIA, manages to get booked on a flight BACK to Atlanta, does not go to Denver. Maybe it just isn’t meant to be.

But wait—Jane yells at the airline and gets the full price of her ticket back! CU is still in the game, but when to visit? So little time is left!

The answer: Squeezed in during the 24 hours between a business trip to D.C. and a visit to U-Washington. This is certainly going to go better. It just has to.

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Fast forward two weeks: I fly back from DC and have a great hour-long airport date with Jon before heading on to Denver. I land at about 10:30 and head for the rental car place like the champion-25-year-old-newbie-car-renter that I am. At the rental place, I’m told I’m being upgraded because they are out of small cars and asked if I want to purchase insurance. I get a little flustered and end up buying the basic coverage (“Am I being stupid? Have I just been taken advantage of?”). As I walk to the car, the snow starts falling. A LOT of snow. (Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to buy the insurance?)

By the time I finally find the car—er, massive SUV, which has approximately the same square footage as my apartment and is roughly 12 feet off the ground—my feet are nearly frozen (I now regret my strategic shoe packing, flats were a terrible idea) and I’m too exhausted to go back and ask for a different car. After hauling myself up to the driver’s seat, I head for the hotel and try not to die. Thoughts going through my head: Is this what steering an aircraft carrier feels like? Are my lights on? Does this thing really fit in one lane? Did they give me a snowbrush?

I roll into the Microtel, where the lobby reeks of pot, and check in. I ask the guy at the desk what time I should leave to get to Boulder by 8:30 and he says with the snow and traffic, 6:15 (WTF??!). Begrudgingly I head off to bed to get < 6 hours beauty sleep for the second night in a row. Ugh.

5:30 comes way too early, and I bundle up and head to the car, which is now covered in 5 inches of snow (and more is still coming down). Realize when I unlock the car that the alarm will go off until I put the key in the ignition and hastily scramble into the car while said 5 inches of snow follow me in. Hunt for a snowbrush and find none, so I proceed to use my Moleskin to scrape the windshield (thanks World50!), all while managing to get my feet soaked in the freezing snow. Finally get settled in the car and get the GPS cued up, the headlights on and cash out and ready for the toll road. Deep breaths. You are a strong, capable woman and you are NOT going to be beat by a little snow!

Roll onto the toll road and realize there’s no cash lane. Whoops, too late now…guess they’ll find me somehow. Okay, this isn’t so bad. 6:30 am and not too many people on the road. Driving 15 under the speed limit is totally acceptable in these conditions. Doo doo doo…everything’s okay. Doo doo doo…is my car sliding?! BRAKE! DON’T BRAKE! OH MY GOD. I’M NOT GOING TO COLORADO. I’M NOT GOING TO LAW SCHOOL AT ALL. I’M GOING TO DIE.

Before I know it, I’m sideways and my monstrosity of a vehicle has collided with the guardrail. Shaking and crying, I look for my phone to call 911 and can’t find it. I open the car door to see if its fallen down below my seat and decide to get out and survey the damage.

There was nothing there.

THERE. WAS. NOTHING. THERE.

Thinking I should report this immediately to the Vatican, I climb back up into the car and after a few deep breaths, make my way back onto the highway. Carefully.

I continue on to Boulder. Despite the delay, guess what time I arrived? SEVEN FREAKING THIRTY. (Thanks, high-as-a-kite hotel man. Could’ve gotten another whole hour of sleep.)

After delicately parking the elephant outside the law school, I ring up Jon to tell him my crazy story. Him: Really? No damage at all? Me: YES JON. WE MUST CALL THE POPE.

I then proceed to get out of the car to pay for parking. At which point, I noticed this:

photo (3)

So, you know….not sure where that came from…..

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I had a lovely visit to the law school, met some fabulous people and then spent the rest of the day cruising around Boulder/running over undergrads with my tank. When I filled up the car before returning it, I noticed yet another dent, this one on the back bumper. (According to my friend Caroline, I’m now the lucky member of a club filled with thousands of CU sorority girls who can’t drive in snow either.) Good thing I paid for that waiver! After it was all said and done I owed NOTHING to the rental car company, which was fantastic, and I even had time to get a massage in the airport before flying on to Seattle to continue the decision making process. But that’s a story for another day…

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ATL: It’s always a good time

If you live anywhere in the continental U.S., you’ve probably heard: This week, Atlanta fell apart over a bit of ice and snow. There are a multitude of very real reasons for this outside of the aforementioned ice and snow which I won’t detail now  (you can read about them here or here or wherever else you get your news). I happen to live in this delightful little city, and also happened to be a part of Tuesday’s events.

First: It was horrible. People were stranded all night in very low temperatures; parents couldn’t find their children; there were over 900 accidents in the span of less than 12 hours. Jon and I were very fortunate in that we were able to make it home that night and neither of our cars were damaged, and we were happy we could offer shelter and assistance to those who weren’t so lucky.

Second: It was, in retrospect, also kind of hilarious. Lots of people are angry about what happened and rightfully so; however, I, for one would rather laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it. And move to another city. Before next winter.

What goes through one’s head during the slow descent of a city into ice-induced madness? How does one deal with being in gridlock for five hours whilst desperately having to pee? What is it like to reach the point where you abandon your car in frustration? In the interests of preserving such a historical (and hysterical) event for posterity, I decided to document the experience.

A NORMAL WORKDAY (also, incidentally,  my anniversary)

12:00 p.m.      Oh look, snow! So pretty!

12:30 p.m.      Mass exodus from the office begins. Come on, people, it’s just a few flakes. No need to panic!

12:48 p.m.      I can’t believe Jon is going home. What a wuss. Whatever, I’ll just stick it out here and he can pick me up at 5:00 for our date as planned.

1:15 p.m.        Hmm, this seems to be accumulating quickly. But everyone’s getting on the roads now. I’ll wait til mid-afternoon.

1:48 p.m.        Jon has been on the road for an hour?? He works two miles from home!!

2:00 p.m.        This is all starting to make me nervous. Maybe I will head out soon…

2:08 p.m.        Google maps is saying 1 hour 5 minutes. Eh, that’s not so bad.

2:15 p.m.        Okay, I’ll get on the road. Definitely don’t want to miss that 5:45 dinner reservation!

2:17 p.m.        Wow, there is a lot of snow on this parking deck. Maybe heels were a bad decision…

2:20 p.m.        Oh good, Piedmont is moving. This isn’t so bad.

2:21 p.m.        I guess I’ll take Habersham, it’s less hilly than Blackland.

2:24 p.m.        Ohmygod, ohmygod, are my wheels spinning out??! PEOPLE PLEASE KEEP MOVING OR WE’RE ALL GOING TO GET STUCK HERE.

2:25 p.m.        Okay, deep breaths. It’s just a baby hill. You’ve got this.

3:14 p.m.        I have never been happier to see West Paces Ferry in my entire life.

3:15 p.m.        This is the first time all afternoon my speedometer has made it to 6 MPH.  Who knew that could be so exciting?

3:20 p.m.        Jon texts: Avoid all overpasses and roads that connect to highways. YOU JUST ELIMINATED ALL MY OPTIONS, JON.

3:21 p.m.        Jon calls: I suppose you could get on I-75? Me: HELL NO, JON.

3:30 p.m.        Whatever, I’m getting on Northside. It’s still moving.

3:35 p.m.        Did that taxi seriously just park in the middle of the road?!! Is he kidding?!!

3:40 p.m.        Aw dang, I knew I should have peed before I left the office.

3:45 p.m.        Ooo, maybe I can stop at Laura’s apartment to pee…?

3:47 p.m.        Nah, never mind. I’ll never be able to get back out here.

3:55 p.m.        Maybe we should cancel that dinner reservation. I’m sure we can still make the 7:30 show, though…

4:00 p.m.        Ooooo baby! Cumberland Blvd is flying!

4:05 p.m.        Just kidding… dammit.

4:15 p.m.        Well, at least we’re inching along.

4:25 p.m.        Wait… am I only moving because those cars are making U-turns? I don’t think that truck up there has moved…

4:29 p.m.        Jon calls: The Fox is willing to exchange tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. Me: Are you sure we can’t still make it? I should be home by five…

4:30 p.m.        That truck is definitely not moving.

4:31 p.m.        Me: Uhhhhhh fine exchange the tickets.

4:36 p.m.        Hmm, it looks the lane on the other side of that truck is moving. Maybe I’ll go around it.

4:40 p.m.        I’m losing track of the number of traffic laws I’ve broken today. Oops, there goes another one. SNOW HAIR DON’T CARE.

4:45 p.m.        Have I seriously been at this intersection for 40 minutes?

4:46 p.m.        Maybe I should cut over to Cobb.

4:47 p.m.        But I’m already so committed!!

4:48 p.m.        Fine. Dammit. I’ll take Cobb.

4:50 p.m.        Ahh, Akers Mill is so refreshingly clear!

4:57 p.m.        … aaaaaand Cobb is not.

5:06 p.m.        Is that semi seriously going to try to drive over the median? This is going to end badly…

5:07 p.m.        Oh, and its stuck halfway. What a surprise.

5:15 p.m.        Have I moved at all?

5:20 p.m.        Wow, he actually made it over the median. I salute you, Mr. Truck Driver.

5:21 p.m.        Aaaand now it’s stuck going uphill. Along with about 10 other vehicles.

5:25 p.m.        Why do people keep trying to drive up that hill when everyone is OBVIOUSLY just sliding back down it?

5:35 p.m.        Jon calls: How ya doing? Me: How do you think?!

5:40 p.m.        I may never make it out of here. Am I going to die in this frozen wasteland??? IS THAT CAR GOING TO SLIDE INTO ME?!!

5:45 p.m.        Crisis averted. Deep breaths.

5:46 p.m.        Cue more squealing tires.

5:48 p.m.        Darkness approaches. If I get stuck out here in the dark, I am going to lose it.

5:49 p.m.        Jon calls: Are you going to try to get off on Circle 75? Me: Yes but I’m trapped in the wrong lane!!!!!!

5:50 p.m.        I AM GOING TO DIE IN THIS FROZEN WASTELAND. I AM GOING TO END UP LIKE JACK NICHOLSON IN THE SHINING.

5:52 p.m.        Woman to the right of me parks in the middle of the road, puts her flashers on, gets out and waves to the car behind her. Then walks to the mall. You have GOT to be kidding me.

5:53 p.m.        Ahh but now I can get over!! THANK YOU JESUS.

5:57 p.m.        Ooo look, a Waffle House! Maybe I should eat a grilled cheese before I die in this frozen wasteland.

6:00 p.m.        Jon calls: Windy Hill is a disaster. Just get as close as you can and then start walking. Me: I’M WEARING HEELS, JON.

6:05 p.m.        YES!!! CIRCLE 75!!!!

6:10 p.m.        Oh crap, I forgot this thing has hills…

6:12 p.m.        Ohmygod, how many cars are piled up down there?!! SEVEN??!

6:13 p.m.        I can’t do this any more. I’m going to have to leave my car behind.

6:14 p.m.        I’m so sorry, George. I never thought I’d have to abandon you like this.

6:15 p.m.        Internal debate: Should I take my laptop? Cue survival instinct: TAKE NOTHING MORE THAN YOU CAN FIT IN YOUR POCKETS!! WHAT IF YOU SLIP AND FALL?!

6:16 p.m.        Try to call Jon. AHHHH WHY WON’T MY CALL GO THROUGH????

6:17 p.m.        Cue minor freakout. Random stranger: Are you alright, ma’am?

6:18 p.m.        Almost eat it on the sidewalk. Heels were a really, really bad choice.

6:19 p.m.        Call Jon: I’ve parked and I’m walking on Circle 75!!! Jon: I have your boots and I’m coming to you!! Me: This is some anniversary!!

6:20 p.m.        Random stranger: How long have you been married? Me: Oh…we’re not. Been dating four years though! Random stranger: Four years and he hasn’t proposed yet?

6:21 p.m.        Oh, shut up.

6:22 p.m.        Man, these tights are really doing nothing for warmth.

6:23 p.m.        Why didn’t I think to ask him to bring sweatpants??

6:28 p.m.        Jon calls: I stopped to help someone but I’m on my way!! Me: I love you but I need to hang up before my hands freeze!!

6:30 p.m.        Scott calls: Are you okay? Me: I HAVE ABANDONED MY CAR AND AM WALKING IN HEELS IN THE SNOW, SCOTT. I FEEL LIKE I’M LIVING IN A ZOMBIE MOVIE. Scott: Is your phone gonna die? Call me when you get home.

6:31 p.m.        IF I EVER GET HOME, SCOTT.

6:32 p.m.        Screw that, I’m getting home. I WILL SURVIVE, DAMMIT.

6:35 p.m.        Is that Jon up there??!!!

6:36 p.m.        IT IS JON!!!!!

6:37 p.m.        Okay, running. Not a good idea.

6:38 p.m.        Long embrace. I want to make out with you forever but it’s so cold!!!!

6:40 p.m.        Pile on the winter wear. BOOTS!! GLORIOUS BOOTS!!

6:41 p.m.        Start walking again. I have never loved this man more.

6:49 p.m.        Ooo, maybe I can pee at McDonalds??

6:50 p.m.        Never mind, they’re closed.

6:51 p.m.        First view of I-75. Wow, this looks like the beginning of The Walking Dead.

6:52 p.m.        Jon wasn’t kidding. Windy Hill really is a mess.

6:55 p.m.        Pause to help poor foreigner stop her car from sliding. Sorry hon, but this is not looking good for you.

6:59 p.m.        Moving along.

7:00 p.m.        At last! The apartment complex!! Warmth and toilets are near!!

7:05 p.m.        Finally home. Strip off layers of clothing on the way to the bathroom.

7:10 p.m.        Jon: I’m going back out there to help. Me: Please don’t die.

7:15 p.m.        Call Dad: Just wanted to let you know I finally made it home! Dad: What are you talking about? Me: You should probably turn on the news…

George the Jeep after his night of abandonment. I thought I had parallel parked him. I hadn't.

George the Jeep after his night of abandonment. I thought I had parallel parked. I hadn’t.