Life Lessons

23 Dec

On December 18, Zolie (the dog), Mustafa (the car), Avengelyne (the bike) and I set out for our “trial” road trip: 9 days of house-hopping among 4 different hosts (some with dogs, some with children, some with dozens of invading latke- or Christmas-pudding-eating relatives, and even some with men wearing hats: Challenges galore!).

Mustafa would get to rack up ~1000 miles and Av should get ~250 or so miles into her tires along various manner of roads (and, apparently, also not-really-roads). My main goal for all 4 of us (dog, person, car, bike) during this trial trip was/is:

Find as many non-catastrophic ways to “fail” as possible.

Let’s figure out our weaknesses, now, while we’re relatively close-to-home and staying with highly equanimical “trial road trip” hosts, so that we can devise ways to improve the REAL road trip experience.

I wagered that our hosts would welcome (or at least tolerate) non-catastrophic f*ckups from me and my travel companions.

I wagered correctly.

All 4 hosts have been MORE than lovely as they’ve helped me, Zolie, Mustafa, and Av navigate our numerous Eff ups–and all of us have had at least 1 failure of note. I’ll share the highlights:

We’ll start with Mustafa, whose failure nearly terminated the entire trial road trip less than 24 hours in.

His key fob-thingy allows me to remotely open the trunk while keeping the rest of the car locked. The idea behind this, I think, is to allow me to put groceries (or whatever) into the trunk without worrying about a bogeyman jumping in and hot-wiring the car away from me. The trouble is that once I’ve finished my loading/unloading business and closed the trunk, the car remains locked.

thLate on the first night of this “trial” road trip, I’d retrieved my iPad from the trunk in order to do some pre-bedtime reading. I had to wake up at 5-friggin-15 in the morning to go for a 4-hour ride before tackling a 4-hour drive. When I woke up, my keys were nowhere to be found. I turned every bag and pocket inside out. I stripped the bed. I scoured “my” room and the kitchen. No keys to be found.

Dagblammit all, I musta locked them in the trunk!

I sheepishly approached my aunt and uncle to see if they could help me. AAA (their service) or Better World (mine) would not be available for at least 2 hours. Avengelyne (bike) was locked inside Mustafa (car). I needed to ride, pronto–not to mention the fact that I eventually also would need to drive several hundred miles.

This was a pretty epic fail.

Stupid Mustafa.

Stupid German engineering.

As I fumed, my aunt hopped out of bed and scooted around the house in her wheelchair. Less than 2 minutes later she returned and asked: Are these yours?


Where were they??

On the table next to the couch where you left your iPad (I never actually brought it into the bedroom with me because I’d become enthralled by my uncle’s history and economics lecture).



NOT Mustafa’s failure. Mine.

Lesson #1: Keep track of car keys at all times.

Next failure: Zolie’s. She tried very hard to let the other dogs know that she (Zolie) was MORE than willing to be the lowest member of the pack. Tail tucked. Ears flat. Acting like a mini-magnet/shadow with me, but one of the dogs just wasn’t getting the hint and the two of them had a challenging visit with lots of interventions required from both “moms”. I’m not sure how to fix this one going forward, but I guess

Lesson #2 would be: Make Your Intentionsย  (i.e., “I am a submissive dog”) Abundantly Clear (if you’ve got tips on how we can do this, btw, I’d be EVER so grateful!)

The next lesson stems from a combination of my failure and Zolie’s success. I was petrified about the fact that Zolie surely would be a complete disaster at T’s Hanukkah Latke party. Close to 20 people. Lots of them men. Little toddler-types, too. Epic opportunities for food-stealing, barking, biting, pooping in the wrong place, and general misbehavior. I apologized in advance to everyone for the transgressions that Zolie undoubtedly would foist upon them, explaining: She’s a rescue dog. She has lots of issues. We’ve been working on them, but…

But, it turns out that our work has actually worked!

She did great.IMG_1556Everyone loved her. And she REALLY loved learning how to play Dreidel.

Go team!

Lesson #3: Expectations Are Pointless

Lesson #3 also reminds me that there’s actually another character in our little road trip troupe. Some may call him/it “god,” others, “fate,” or the “furies,” or “supernatural power.” I call it “Traffic.”

And, man-oh-man, Traffic’s failure is THE WORST failure of any “well planned” road trip.

I know how to manage this beast, which is totally epic and legendary, in L.A. I didn’t realize that it also thrived in other areas. Once I realized that Traffic likely would be a 100% inescapable road trip companion, however, I actually kind of celebrated it:

  • Sirius subscription=reactivated
  • Podcast subscriptions=updated
  • Concentrated Mindfulness Meditation practice=secured.

Lesson #4: Challenge=Opportunity. Every.Single.Time.

Final failure/lesson (for now) belongs to Avengelyne. Stupid bike keeps taking me onto gravel roads. I’m about to re-name her “Gravengelyne.”

IMG_1593 These forays are fun, and beautiful, and super-photogenic, but they are hell on her tires. And when tires go to hell, they tend to do so in far-flung locales. And when they do so twice, or thrice (grrrrrr), and you are out of tubes and CO2 cartridges, and you are a moron who fails to bring a hand-pump with you, then you are really screwed.

ย Lesson #5: Always Be Prepared.

5 lessons from the 5 road trip adventurers.

But wait! There’s more!

On December 18 not only did we commence a 1,000-mile “trial” road trip to celebrate my #funemployment, as it turns out, Dec. 18 also was the date that the University of Southern California’s Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy sent me this:


There I was, enjoying the heck out of my #funemployment pre-road trip road trip, without a care in the world about “real” life, when I called my roommate/subtenant just to check in and see if he had any questions about the house, or if anything interesting had happened, and … WHAMMO! … Pretty much THE most interesting thing in the world (to me) actually HAD happened. The mail had arrived and it included this!

My future had arrived!

While I was busy enjoying a 100% direction-less journey, a MAJOR, 100% solid, direction-finding artifact had presented itself.

While I was busy living “in the moment,” ~3.5ย  years of my future got solidified.

While I was busy planning for today, tomorrow was already here.

Brain damage be damned. I just got into The #1 Occupational Therapy Program in America (according to U.S. News and World Report)!

yeah, baby!

Lesson #6 (credit John Lennon/Allen Saunders): Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

Or, to sum up all 6 Lessons from this week: Prepare. Be True. Adapt. Relax. Enjoy the Ride (even when it’s on gravel or in traffic).

xoxoxox & merry everything.


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