A hot mess...

...yup, that's me! At the very least, I am this week. I'll get back to you later to let you know if much has changed.

Editing was going really well early on in the week. I had completed more than half of my novel, and was well on my way to being finished when BAM! Temperatures dropped and everything in the metro-Atlanta area iced over. Now if you are not from Georgia you might be well surprised to know that we, unlike our Yankee brethren, do NOT know how to drive in inclement weather, even when said weather is...well...just not that bad. Southerners, myself included, would probably have panic attacks if required to travel in, say, Chicago during this time of year.

Something that does always surprise me, however, is that we haven't gotten used to driving under such conditions. Why don't we have chains for our tires, or salt, or gravel to put down in the winter? It may not snow (or stick) very often but, every year like clockwork, it ICES. Temperatures dip below the thirties and it's too cold for snow (ha!), so the rain immediately turns the roads into ice skating rinks. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. What is our problem? My guess is that people have memories like peanuts and, somehow, forget...

What really happens is that in some areas, yes, the ice is very bad. Bridges, for example. And there are a TON of bridges in Atlanta. The city sends out trucks to take care of the ice, but they always wait until after the damage is done. Why? Don't they know anything about being prepared in advance?

I left work on Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m. We tried to get out early, but it's finals week, and I can't very well tell students to get out when they have work to do (I'd have liked to...I knew it was going to be hell trying to get home). After I left I got about 15 minutes down Interstate 20 and dropped off my co-worker at her apartment. I couldn't even go down her street; I just had to drop her off at the gate because the whole road was...you guessed it...icy. As I left, I passed over a bridge that had a few rough patches, but nothing major. The news crew was there, though, because somebody had hit a telephone pole.

Back on I-20, I passed 9 cars wrecked on the side of the road. Mind you, I still hadn't seen any ice on the actual interstate. But, suddenly, I did see brake lights....tons of them...for miles...I-20 had been shut down. So I got off on some random exit and used my phone GPS to get me to downtown from the back roads. I got off on MLK (success!) thinking I could make my way to Spring Street and get home from there. No such luck. I got turned around twice because the roads I needed were closed. At this point, mind you, I had been on the road for almost two hours (for what is typically a 25-minute commute). I finally ended up in the West End, which is NOT a good place for a young woman in a fairly decent carto be when the sun goes down, especially when there is a risk of wrecking said car and being stuck...but there I was anyway. After fighting with my husband, who was desperately trying to find another route for me and who was very sweetly worried about my present location, I found my way back to I-20. Success again! No traffic! Oh, but then it got interesting...

I was a only a mile away from the downtown connector, thinking I pretty much had it made by this point. Just a few more minutes and I'd be pulling into our garage. But then I got on to the connector (which just so happens to start off as a steep, curving BRIDGE) and immediately started to fishtail, along with the other five cars behind me. I panicked, to say the least. It was black ice and it was ugly. The whole damn thing was just a sheet or frozen rain. I finally got my car to stop and I prayed very hard, and cried a good bit, too. I've driven on ice before, but I've never been stuck on a bridge where my only hope was to slide down and hope that I'd be able to control my car enough to not slam into the concrete guardrail at the bottom. My favorite part was when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a semi-truck COMPLETELY sideways, slowly slipping along the top of the bridge, approaching me at a speed that made me want to jump OFF the bridge and into the on-coming traffic below. But then it stopped. It was still a good thirty yards behind me, and I would have been buffered (or smashed) by the other five cars between us. I watched as some people tried to putt-putt their way to the shoulder and sit with their flashers going...while about ten others, over the course of an hour, put on a brave/stupid face and risked the downhill slope. Mercifully, every one of them made it safely to the bottom.

I called 911 to see if they could get a truck out there. The woman I talked to was wonderful but, alas, no one ever showed up...at least not while I was there. My mother called me and, as mothers are want to do, panicked that her daughter was stuck on an icy bridge after midnight. My husband called and tried to help me figure out what to do. I had to pee really badly (sorry...but it is relevant to the story) and so I was getting very desperate. I was sleepy. I was scared. And my bladder was about to explode. Not a good combination. But then...

...my father-in-law called me. He is a great man, and I am very lucky to have married into such a family. He is older and wiser than most, and he has worked on cars for years (sometimes he forgets that he is 73 and tries to challenge the younger generation at redlights), so his knowledge about cars and how to operate them goes way beyond my nine years of experience. I was finally at the point of saying "Eff this", and, inch by agonizing inch, he talked me through how to get to the bottom without crashing. Literally, inch by inch. It was release the brake, press the brake, release the break, press the brake, over and over for more than fifty yards until I finally rounded the curve (and even though I got used to what I was doing, it was still a little precarious there towards the bottom when the bridge was at its steepest and, every time I pressed the brake, my back end would slip a bit). FREE AT LAST!

Oh, I'm sorry. You thought it was over?

I merged onto I-75, now only minutes from home, and who should I see when I try exit? A Georgia State Patrol. Blocking my way. "The whole bridge is frozen," he says to me.

Are you surprised?

So I got off on the next exit, made it home safely, and RAN inside to the bathroom while my husband parked the car for me.

And then I called in sick yesterday and spent the whole day nursing an upset tummy. I listened to classical music and wrote and drank coffee by the pretty Christmas tree. Oh! And I finally got to see "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for the first time in years. Hooray for me!

The End.

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