“I think I’ll move to Australia.”
That is what Alexander said in the children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. It was a favorite childhood book of mine, and sometimes, like over the past two months, I relate to that book all too well.
At some point this year, I must’ve stepped on a sidewalk crack under a ladder and broke a mirror while 13 black cats walked by, because I’ve had a rough year this last month. Not an end-of-the-world kind of month, of course, but things certainly could’ve been better.
The Wednesday after Labor Day was the first day of business-as-usual following a busy and stressful summer. In addition to working hard for a side project’s mid-summer deadline, bronchitis followed as I flitted from one activity to the other, which continued during the final weeks of summer. To close out the summer, a friend from out of town visited during Labor Day week to celebrate her birthday. While I loved having her stay, by the Wednesday after Labor Day, I was so glad to finally feel some semblance of normalcy and routine.
Instead, literally 24 hours after dropping my friend off at the airport, I was sitting in my car shaking off the shock of rear-ending someone in rush hour traffic. They were fine. I was fine. Their Jeep had some relatively minor damage, because, as I’ve learned, Jeeps are nearly indestructible. Prince Caspian (my trusty 2004 Pontiac Vibe), on the other hand, met a disastrous death on the sea of 35E. Since then, I’ve been driving my grandparents’ 1998 Cadillac DeVille, which I’ve nicknamed Cruella, as I search for my next new-to-me car.
While getting in a car accident that totals your car isn’t the same thing as your house going up in flames, it was certainly a jarring experience, and the seven weeks that have followed have included some strange and stupidly ridiculous annoyances.
I thought perhaps after that stressful week of work and car shopping and chiropractor appointments, I’d take a relaxing bubble bath. Indeed, it was. At least for the first three minutes, until a shampoo bottle fell onto the bridge of my nose. I pulled my hand away from my nose to see blood and nearly fainted, like I usually do when I get something more than a paper cut. If I was in a cartoon, I’d have the dizzy circle of stars circling above my head and a bright red throbbing nose.
A couple weeks ago, I was short on time to get to a film screening in St. Louis Park. I whizzed down the freeway while Cruella dinged at me “low on fuel.” In addition to her groaning, then ultimately quitting, when blowing cold or hot air earlier last month, she also doesn’t have a reliable gas indicator when I have anything less than 6 gallons in the tank, so I ignored her incessant whining. I pulled into the parking ramp, then burst up the escalator to the entrance with a huff and maybe a wheeze or two, getting to the theater in the nick of time. I got settled into my seat, then went to turn off my phone when I realized I left it at home by accident. “Oh well, no big deal, it’s just a phone,” I thought. I later left the theater, knowing I was low on gas, and was trying to figure out where there was a station nearby without the use of my phone (it’s amazing just how we’ve come to rely so heavily on these devices, isn’t it?). I figured I’d just drive to the nearest gas station I knew about.
Turns out, Cruella was serious when she kept yelling at me “Low on fuel” on my drive down, because she sputtered to a halt a half a block out of the parking ramp. With no phone to call someone and a dead car, I debated leaving her in the middle of the road to find help. A couple minutes later, my saving grace came in the form of a wonderful gentleman in a purple PT Cruiser who stopped to help. He went and got gas for me, and then refused to take the money I offered him as thanks.
“It’s what I would hope others would do for my daughter,” he said. I don’t even know his name, but perhaps somehow he’ll read this and know how I much I appreciated the gesture during my terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad month.
My no-good month continued the following week. My mother always told me not to cry over spilled milk. Well, I didn’t cry, but I thought to myself once again, “It’s been a rough year this month,” when I literally spilled milk. I walked out of the grocery store with a gallon in one hand. As I worked to open the back door, I had set the gallon on top of Cruella. It slid off due to the rain, collapsing to the ground and spurting white blobs into the pooling water on the pavement. I should have known better, because several weeks ago, I accidentally left my full vanilla chai latte from Caribou Coffee on top of Cruella while pulling out of a parking lot, thus spilling and losing $5 worth of caffeine.
Yes, the last two months could’ve been much worse. On a sliding scale between a paper cut and my house exploding due to a gas leak, it’s certainly not more than a 5, and the only reason why it’s that high is because of the car accident. Let’s just say the past two months have given me great practice at laughing at myself and finding silver linings.
My Aussie friend Jess said some days, or months, are like that — even in Australia.
Hannah Davis is the community editor of the Forest Lake Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.