Friday, January 26, 2007

Flustration, Mind Muck, and the Duh Moment

Have you ever been troubleshooting something and you get out the manual to read something like, “Confirm that the power cord is plugged into the source.” You say to yourself, “Duh.”

Yesterday I had what I call a Duh Moment. I’d left my house in plenty of time to make it into Santa Monica for a SITE-SoCal meeting where Brenda Anderson, author of PLAYING THE QUANTUM FIELD, was speaking. I’d helped plan this meeting and had Brenda’s books and the meeting materials in the trunk of my brand new, fun and flashy, Camry SE—a very dependable car.

I’m streaming down the fast lane of I-10 listening to Wally Lamb’s SHE’S COME UNDONE through the iPod connection in the car, when the traffic slows to a crawl. But that’s okay, because I factored the traffic into the morning commute. Then it stopped. So did I. Then it moved forward again. I pressed my accelerator and my car went whoosh like it was in neutral. I checked the gear shift and it was in the drive position, so I moved it to park and then back to drive and hit the accelerator again. Whoosh, not zoom.

I look in my rearview mirror and see a frustrated face glaring through the windshield of the car behind me. I turned off Wally Lamb. Flustered now, I turned off the engine and tried to restart it. No clicking, no whirring, no audio.

I put my hazard blinkers on and called Husby, who called the Toyota emergency roadside service. They promised a tow out to me within the hour. The cars behind me began moving into the emergency lane to pass on my left. Several minutes went by; cars passing one right after another in their own rush to wherever. One kind couple paused beside me and asked if they could do anything for me and I was happy to tell them help was on the way.

A charming CHP officer arrived a few minutes later and stopped traffic in all four lanes and then pushed me across the freeway to the shoulder. I assured him that help was on the way and he took off to help someone else. Help arrived about a half-hour later when a knight in a shining white truck pulled up behind me. It wasn’t the tow-truck. It was Husby in his Ford F-150. We shifted the meeting materials into his truck and he sent me on my way with a kiss and blessing for safety.

Back on the road again, Husby calls me and says he got tired of waiting for the tow-truck and decided to try the car. You know the rest. The car started for him. Then he asks, “When you tried to start it did you…” I cut him off. “Of course. I tried everything.” He drives it to the nearest Toyota dealer and leaves it for a physical.

I pulled my big white truck into the Fairmont Miramar valet right behind a gorgeous red Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. I was a half-hour late to the meeting, but I was there. My dear friends and colleagues Louise Lyon and Brigitte Lundrigan had stepped up to the registration table and had everything under control when I got there.

Brenda’s topic was synchronistic to my day. Using examples from her book, Brenda spoke about how we operate within a gradient between the fear zone and power zone. When we’re entrenched in the fear zone, we take head trips that loop through our mind, criticizing, regretting, or reliving all our mistakes. The fear zone zaps us of energy and produces confusion, poor judgment, frustration, and fluster. When my car first whooshed instead of zoomed I got flustered. The more aware of the cars piling up behind me, the more flustered I became. I call this “flustration.”

After the fabulous meeting I’m driving home in more traffic, head-tripping about my reaction to the morning’s flustration. I replayed Husby’s role, my response to his insulting question, “When you tried to start it did you…” and how I am the type that never gives up on a technological challenge. Then something Brenda said floated to the top of all what I call mind muck.

Brenda said, when you’re in a head trip pause. Stop thinking. Look at it from outside yourself. I paused, which wasn't hard because traffic was snarled. I wondered what Husby was going to ask in the question I cut from him. So I called him and apologized for cutting him off and asked what he was going to say.

He was going to ask if I had enacted the anti-theft device when I turned the ignition. That was the duh moment. No I hadn’t. In my flustration, I’d forgotten all about the anti-theft device.

Have you lived through a day like this? Need to purge the mind muck? Tell us about it. Just click the link below to leave a comment.


EJ said...

Well I'm not sure this could be considered a 'duh' moment but it did make me laugh.

I recently bought a refurbished Philips flat screen TV online. It took nearly a week to arrive and when it finally did, I was champing at the bit to get it set up.

I carefully unpacked it, glanced at the manual to make sure I knew where all the connections should go and set it up. I plug the cord into the AC/DC converter, the converter into the TV, put the batteries in the remote and hit the power button.


I check the batteries. I check the wall plug. I notice that the little LED on the converter has but a flicker of light illuminating it. Ok, bad converter. I'm pissed and I'm frustrated but, accept the things you can't control, even if you do want to kill something.

I call Philips, explain that the converter is bad and they say they will ship a new one out right away.

Ok, so I have to wait a few days.

Which, of course, I don't. I keep hitting that power button, keep checking the batteries, keep wiggling the power cord.

Still nothing.

Then I give the TV a thorough going over. Now, you have to understand that I have not owned a TV in over 12 years and the last TV I owned was a Goodwill special that was at least 10 years old itself. I had no idea modern TVs had an On/Off switch. I thought the only way to turn them on was with the remote. Guess what? I was wrong. There on the side of the TV is an On/Off switch. I push the button and viola!, TV works.

On a final 'duh' note, two days later a package arrives. They sent me a power cord, not a converter.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

EJ~I don't know whether to give you applause for going without TV for 12 years, or for your purchase of a new one. Hope you can find some good stuff to watch. Have you checked out House? It's a formulaic medical drama, but the lead character is a classic literary anti-hero.


Scotorum said...

I'm sure the only reason I can't think of an equivalent situation is because the muck in my own mind is so thick at the moment that nothing can possibly rise to the top. The only thing that is at all visible right now is having to go back into a rental car office once in London and ask someone to show me why I could not get the car out of the parking spot. Something about putting the shifter into or out of some version of park or neutral, which for some reason was unclear to me. The management of course was convinced I was an idiot, and no doubt was having second thoughts about renting to me in the first place as I finally drove off for Wales.

I must say that if I ever had a nightmare about being stuck with a dead car, it would be on I-10 in California. It's bad enough that I expect I will have to drive on it this summer when I am out there for a convention. Flustration would be an understatement if my car ever died on it. Plus some of the new thingies they put on cars these days can be easily overlooked, particularly in an emergency. I'm sure that were I in your position I would not likely have considered that possibility myself. You did well under the circumstances!

A.S. King said...

I am a chronic lock-the-keys-in-the-car person. Lemme tell ya. Those moments are major duh moments every single time...and especially now that I have a car with an alarm that goes beep beep beep when I leave the keys in the ignition.

(Yes, the beep beep beep is identical to the door open signal in a Buick my parents once owned, so I think that when it's beeping, it's just because my door is open.)

I know the minute I post this, Carolyn, I will remember a really big duh moment, but really, the locking the keys in the car, for me, is a duh moment that keeps on giving...ever since I got a car.

Cat Connor said...

I'm glad you survived your day! Mind muck is a daily occurance over here. (Although I suspect it is more a lingering baby fog) lol

Buffy Squirrel said...

Time has drawn a veil over the circumstances, but I still remember my husband asking me, "Why didn't you do [blindingly obvious thing]?" and my thinking, "he'll never believe it just didn't occur to me...."

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Stella (aka A.S. King)~ Who hasn't locked their keys in the car? My worst offence was when driving my publisher's car, leaving it running in front of the office with the keys locked inside. He had to call his wife to come out with the extra set of keys.

Scotorum~ At least you remembered to drive on the "right" side of the road. Hope the California freeways treat you well during your summer excursion.

Cat~ Baby fog. Oh, dear, I remember that. You amaze me with all you do.

Buffy Squirrel~ I love this: blindingly obvious thing.

A.S. King said...

Of course, as predicted, I have remembered a true duh-moment after posting.
Remember last year when I stopped at the ATM for $40 before I picked up a a pizza...only to arrive at the pizza place to find out I'd got the card, the receipt, but forgot to get the money out of the machine?
That was a good one.


Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Stella~ The only way to stay sane after such a DUH is hoping the person who found your money in the machine needed it worse than you.

If it makes you feel any better, I drove off from Taco Bell without my food. Yep, I paid, got my change and then drove away. Didn't notice until I got home. Perhaps it's saying something about my family, but my sister who was with me didn't notice either because we were yakking too much. Dang, I miss her.

Louise Lyon said...

Hi Miss Carolyn,

Thx for the credit for registration, but no need. It is fun to visit with everyone and everyone is so nice. Their biggest concern was about YOU! I was impressed with your "kick back" attitude when you did were NOT flustered! Kudos to you.

OK, one big "duh" moment regarding keys, cars and etc. Just recently I drove from Fountain Valley, where I live to Redondo Beach where my 92 year old father-in-law lives to take him to the local hospital for some "minor hernia surgery" that would require no one to have to babysit him at the conclusion of this very minor surgery. I left home at 6:45 in the morning giving myself plenty of time for early morning traffic since Howard "Dad" had to be at the hospital at 9:00. Did fine on all of those deadlines but his surgery scheduled for 11:40 did not take place until 2:00. My husband had a commitment he could not change so he was relegated to calling me every chance he had for an update. Both of us had the TOTAL "duh" moment when the Dr. came down to the waiting room to tell me Howard "Dad" was OK but he could absolutely NOT stay at home that night alone. OK! Makes sense. What were we thinking? Of course he needs someone to be with him. "DUH" So my husband drives to the hospital when he is through so we can change "dad" duty. I did not arrive home until 7:30 and when I rounded the corner it was pitch black! Oh, no! All of the electricity was out for three square blocks! I drove into the driveway and pushed my garage door opener (OK, say it with me, BIG DUH!) and of course, it doesn't work. Whoops, I don't have a key to the house!! This is an even bigger DUH! No key hidden in the yard, none in my purse or car. I am in trouble. I drive to Costco because I am sure the electricity will be on when I return. No. I call my husband (who has a key and is 35 miles away...) and boo hoo to him. OK, I need to waste more time because I am sure the electricity will come back on soon! So, I went to the movie! When I returned at 10:30...NO! I am almost in tears and call Howard again. This time we decided to meet somewhere between Redondo Beach and Fountain Valley so I can get his key. I finally came home at 11:45 at night to a very hungery puppy dog (who lives to eat) and a very dark house. I have so many "duhs" in this story even I am embarressed to tell it! The electicity did not come back on until 9:01 the next morning and I now have a key in my purse! :) Do you feel better Carolyn? You should. I hope this makes you smile.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Louise~It's often the things we take for granted that give us the most duh moments. Thanks so much for sharing.

Rocknrobin said...

Duh… remember, you're the artsy(ie)one; I'm the mechanical one. If I were to have to write a line or two in the time it took you to get to Santa Monica, including all the chaos, I would still be trying to come up with the right verbiage, forget the grammar! (Oh and thank God for spell check.) In fact, I actually started this comment three weeks ago.

How BOLD of you to reveal the not-so-secure side of yourself. The side in which we humans all too often operate and confuse with self importance. We believe that our loved ones will always forgive us for our short comings and sharp tongues. Hopefully that “belief” is not just a false confidence. What a God send Brenda's message was that day. I’m soo proud of you little sister!

Carolyn, Wally Lamb? How ironic... Maybe you should have been listening to Wally Lamb’s, I Know This Much Is True, books on tape/CD.

Ciao baby Bella!~

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Thanks, big sister, for working on this for three weeks. (I know English is not your bestest subject.)

I don't know how people survived the separation of family in the days before planes, trains, and automobiles. Seeing you comment on my blog reduces the miles in between us. I am proud of you and the many amazing things you do. Love you back, big sis.