Monday, March 31, 2008


There's a woman on my van who rides about twice a month. She assumed all of Van Mother's administrative duties when she left.

She only shows up to collect everyone's monthly van payment and to tell anecdotes about her kids - this morning's punchline was when she told her son to behave himself at a neighbor's house and he said, "But Mommy, I just don't know if I can do that." - cue the polite laughter for her charming imp.

She's a pretty lady, with full hips and thick blonde hair. When she does ride the van, Blondielocks is perpetually late. This morning was no exception. As we pulled out of our parking space her G-Dub '04 stickered SUV roared into the parking lot.

Were it left to me, I would have pretended not to notice her and hoped that getting left might serve as an inducement to be timely in the future. But no. Someone said, "Oh, there's Blondielocks!" and we had to stop.

She was in a mood to chat and looked at me over her shoulder a few times trying to catch my eye. So I promptly put in my headphones, closed my eyes, and leaned my head against the window in my usual Monday morning grump pose.

We occasionally talk on the way home in the afternoons, but me not having any offspring to tell tales about really handicaps me when talking with suburban women.

She thought to include me in her party planning for Van Mother's departure. She asked me what I thought we should do for her last day and I suggested a card or some breakfast goodies but said that I was unsure of vanpool protocol. This made her laugh and she said it would be funny if she wrote a book about all the things that happen on vanpools, the people who ride and what they do and say.

What I thought, but couldn't say to her as I considered this then-fledgling blog was, "Blondie, you don't know the half of it."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Pronounced "Gee-Ah-Mah-Tee"

Generic White Guy piqued my curiosity this morning when he asked Gap Lady if she had seen the John Adams miniseries currently airing on HBO.

This interested me because after reading several glowing reviews about the show and Giamatti himself, I promptly set the TiVo, or whatever that bastardized TiVo-like thing that came with the satellite is called.

I haven't gotten around to watching it yet so I was eager to hear what Generic White Guy had to say. In short, he hated it.

Not for the acting, not for it's degree of faithfulness to the book, but because of Paul Giamatti - or as he called him, "Paul Giamalla." In fact, Generic White Guy hasn't even seen the show.

Once he heard Paul Giamatti was cast in the role of John Adams, Generic White Guy knew the show would be terrible:
He's a character actor, not a lead and he most certainly is no John Adams.
I was struck by Generic White Guy's sense of ownership over the casting of the John Adams miniseries. I mean, what the hell did Paul Giamatti ever do to him?

And for the record, I like Paul Giamatti. I loved his sad sack, wine snob turn in Sideways, his cranky everyman in American Splendor, and I even managed to sit through that misfire called Planet of the Apes (Mr. Burton, you owe me.)

As I said, I haven't yet seen John Adams so I'm in no position to defend it. I will however defend that Giamalla fellow his right to do what he does best - Acting, which is to say his ability to convince an audience that he is someone else.

Monday, March 17, 2008

vAnnie's Eyes Are Smiling

Thanks to Spring Break, traffic this morning was fully a third less than usual. I opted to drive myself to work this morning rather than take the van so that promptly at 4:00 I can head straight to the nearest Irish pub. Although as my Best Gay said, "All the bars will be a little Irish today."

I plan to submerge myself in several double Stolis and indulge in all the faux Irish revelry. You can always count on bumping into a few wandering bagpipers and more kilts than you can shake your shillelagh at.

While I tend to think New Year's Eve is the official amateur night for binge drinkers, St. Patrick's Day comes in a close second. I'm sure that at least 5 of my nearest and dearest are going to report to work tomorrow worse for the St. Pat's wear.

So, I hoist my pint to all of us who will spend tomorrow hunched over our desks bleary-eyed and sweating out too many green-tinted ales - Sláinte.

I'll leave you with a tune from the one and only (and shockingly still alive) Shane McGowan, a man who has given us music that, as the Irish would say, is grand altogether.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

vAnnie, Thou Art Loosed: Part the Second

To recap, I am now out of my vehicle at a four-way stop in rush hour traffic stalking toward a vehicle easily twice the size of mine, looking for all the world like a woman gone mad.

I unfurled a stream of vicious profanity as my feet hit the asphalt, I said things that would make my mother question her effectiveness in raising me and my continued suitability as her daughter.

But before I get to her car, the woman takes off. This should be the end of things, right? Right?

No. I cannot leave well enough alone and I get back in my car and drive after the woman.

It should be said that I've been overcome with such a singular sense of rage at this point that I am no longer thinking about what I'm doing.

I follow this woman into a neighborhood subdivision. It was not a high speed, back alley sort of a chase but rather a sedate 20 mph tour up, over, around, and through a neighborhood. I get the feeling that this woman is probably beginning to regret interacting with me.

I follow behind her for about 10 minutes before I regain my sense of decency and call my confessor, my brother. I dial his number and I tell him that I'm in the middle of doing something really, really stupid and that I really, really don't need him to yell at me about it.

In true sibling fashion, my brother will never allow any opportunity to criticize me slip away so it is a testament to his maturity (or my level of bat shit crazy at the moment) that he calmly asked me if I would rather be on my way home or continue my low speed pursuit of a stranger through the greater-Houston suburbs.

I abandoned the chase and headed home. But not without replaying the events in my mind. I am susceptible to occasional bouts of piss-poor behavior, but man - this was a doozy. Did my blinding rage stem from having what is essentially a desk job, or from living in the all-too-quiet suburbs for a few years, or is it the recent rediscovery of industrial music when working out? Or is it, as I suspect, a complete systemic rebellion over me trying to take up Yoga. Maybe I just wasn't built to be that serene.

Now you see why I ride the van in the first place. Mixing with other drivers on the highways and byways of Houston's mean streets is obviously more than I can manage without resorting to homicidal mania.

But I'll bet that woman never tries a stunt like that again in her life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

vAnnie, Thou Art Loosed: Part the First

I went feral today.

The van dropped me off this afternoon and I headed to the library. On my way home I lost my E'ffing mind. Because what can push you over the edge if not a jaunt to your local public library?

I was a scant 2 miles away from home when I engaged my turn signal to exit. Contrary to popular belief, the world will in fact not split open causing the simultaneous deaths of all kids and birds if you let someone in front of you in traffic.

The Stegosaurus-sized SUV to my right made it abundantly clear that they had no intention of letting me merge by stomping on the gas and keeping pace with my car when they saw my blinker. Undaunted (and probably emboldened) by the paid off, 5-year-old vehicle I was driving, I continued to merge into their lane.

A brief aside: Upon moving to Houston a few years ago I realized that if you really commit to a maneuver behind the wheel, no matter how egregious or steeped in assholery, you're probably going to get away with it. Sure, sure, you'll see the extended digit of the person you wronged or see their face twist with rage at your stupidity, but this is usually short lived.

After exiting, the single lane I was in becomes two. The woman pulled up next to me but I chose to ignore her and stare straight ahead in my best Bitchy Ice Queen from Hell impression. I'm inching to the stop sign ahead, I am shortly to turn left and the SUV will turn right. Momentarily, we were to be out of each other's lives forever.

But that was not to be.

As I approached the stop sign, she jerked her vehicle sideways into my lane. Seen from above our vehicles would have made one very top heavy letter 'T'.

Something inside me snapped. I flung open my car door, threw on the parking brake and approached her vehicle.
In effort to avoid the longest post in Vanpool Chronicles history, tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the "vAnnie, Thou Art Loosed" saga.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Say What?

Monday mornings are usually on the quiet side. But not today.

I found myself uncharacteristically disinterested in both my book and music this morning so I tuned out and stared out the window. That is until the Gap Lady and one of the Wizened Crones snapped me back into cognizance with their chatting about car washing and tractor repair. Seriously: tractor repair.

The two of them chatted for a while and I got the impression that Gap Lady really wanted to talk. After a few minutes of silence she says:

I just don't know what to make of all this political stuff.

My eyes widened, my jaw clenched, I leaned forward slightly, and I held my breath. I was beside myself with anticipation.

The response was a total let down. The wizened crone said matter-of-factly that she'd been hearing alot of ads for Obama, but very few from Clinton.

Then she said she heard that it was supposed to rain later.

And then there was silence.

It was, gentle reader, a deliciously awkward moment.