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My big project at work is finished. Or rather, was martyred for political reasons. I was pretty upset about the whole thing, given that I wasted eight months, a whole lot of overtime and dropped the (admittedly disliked) Modernist Poetry class all for the sake of the project. The Project! The Project! It still echoes in my brain. It’s hard to be focused so long on something and then have it become completely inconsequential is a bit of a brain fuck. Or a Brian fuck, as I originally wrote. There were no Brians on the project, nor Bryan and not even a Brianne, so I’m not sure where that came from, but oh whatever, fuck the Brians all to hell.

The very next day after the grave of my project was patted flat, I was on the road to Shermer, Illinois again because I was apparently so good at killing my own project dead that I’ve been given more projects. Projects on top of projects. Since my own Chrysler is eyeing real estate in its own graveyard, I went to make arrangements for a rental car but was told that the corporate vehicle was available and did I want that? Sure, whatever, I didn’t care. Except that I should have known better, because the corporate vehicle? A grey minivan that smells vaguely of dead fast food and road like a dump truck. I suspect that instead of a seat, it is just upholstered cardboard, as I was actually tired of riding in the car after four hours. My ass hurt, and let me tell you, my ass is well-padded on its own. Unless I’ve been sitting on a wood plank bench for four hours, my ass never hurts. And need I tell you that the thing didn’t have an input for my iPod? No, I don’t think it was up for debate because HELL NO it did not. The only consolation was the corporate iPass for the tolls, so I didn’t have to dig around through the bottom of my briefcase for quarters.

While I actually enjoy visiting the home office, I am officially over Shermer. The lines at the Starbucks are too long. There’s way too much traffic. I have shopped everywhere there is to shop and I ended up avoiding the Nordstrom Rack, because I’ve noticed that it makes me feel vaguely ishy, as though I’m viewed less as a shopper and more like cheap goods-seeking cattle. Also, the geese are pissing me off.

Mostly, the biggest problem was that I’m in some kind of major funk right now. It might have been spawned by the death knell to the project, or it might have been because I decided to take a semester off of school because I’ve been feeling as though I have lost a piece of my head somewhere in an never-ending list of my obligations. I think it’s some kind of combination of the two. I had really thought that the class thing would relieve some stress, but if anything, it did the opposite. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become really goal-oriented and this lack of forward movement is really bothersome. Plus, I’m really close to completing my master’s and moving into the doctoral candidate arena, so this shoves that back by another semester. Unless I could manage to take two classes in one semester on top of the job, to which we give a hearty laugh because oh that is so very funny.

The trip was nice and I met some people I’ve known by phone alone for years, which was nice. And had a really excellent meal on the company, which is always pretty awesome. After I was finished with my meeting, I was ready to head back but it was prime time for rush hour traffic, so I headed to IKEA to do some shopping and then went to Mitsuwa to see if I could find some dim sum barbecue pork dumplings. Either they don’t sell them frozen and pre-made, or I couldn’t find them, but I did end up buying some shrimp shu mai and a bunch of frozen edamame, along with a little Styrofoam cooler so that it would make it home without thawing. Before I got onto the highway, I booted up my laptop and burned a few of my playlists onto a CD. It wasn’t the same as the iPod, but at least it would keep me from the Easy Listening hell that is the area between Sheboygan and home.

On the road, I was absorbed mostly in my glum thoughts or chatting on the phone about said glum thoughts with friends. I stopped north of Milwaukee at my favorite little Caribou, which set off the funk again, since it’s another reminder that I’m not taking a class this semester. Back on the highway, I saw a shooting star, which cheered me up somewhat. Then I noticed that the semi in front of me was weaving over onto the shoulder of the road. I watched him drift over and then jerk back for at least five miles, but when he jerked so hard that his rig actually did a little rock, as though it would tip over, I got a sick feeling in my stomach that he would lose control and I would barrel into him, so I passed him (I’m assuming it was a him) and checked the driver’s window when I passed. He was leaning back into the darkness of the cab, so I couldn’t tell if he was falling asleep or drunk or even conscious. I watched him for another few miles, uncertain of what to do and then decided to just call the state patrol and chance the fact that they would tell me that I should mind my own business. That whole close call with the drunk driver after Mopie and Markus’ going away party has served to make me hyper aware of how other people affect our fate and I really didn’t want to read about a semi jackknifing on the freeway and wonder if I should have done something.

I ended up talking to the 911 dispatcher, who took the vital information and then the mile marker we were passing. He told me that I would be leaving their jurisdiction soon, so had the dispatcher in the next county call me back. She informed me that a deputy was waiting for us to pass fifteen miles up, so she was going to keep me on the phone to make sure that the semi didn’t pull off. Wavy McSwervesalot decided that I was going too slow and that he was going to pass me, so I let him, feeling very much involved in a sting operation, since it allowed me to give them his tag number. The dispatcher asked if I wanted to make a statement, but I declined, asking if the state patrol officer could just observe and make his own call on whether or not the semi driver was impaired.

When I passed the deputy, the dispatcher relayed the message to him, and he pulled out and began to follow me, which made me start to feel super paranoid. The dispatcher thanked me and hung up, leaving me with a cop on my tail and feeling like I had just tattled on a fellow driver. I had my seatbelt on but was gone three miles over the speed limit and I have such a guilty conscious that I started to wonder if he could give me a ticket for having my laptop on the seat next to me. If talking on a cell phone while driving was illegal in some states, surely blogging while driving was illegal too. Then, very nonchalantly, he pulled out and passed me and caught up with the semi. The semi continued, as though nothing was happening. Did he see the cop? Would he not swerve now because he knew he was being followed? After ten minutes, I was starting to second guess my judgment, because nothing seemed to be happening, but then the patrol car’s lights flared up and the semi reluctantly pulled over. Vindicated!

The sting operation had taken about an hour, so immediately after I passed him, I was amazed to see a sign that said I only had another fifteen minutes until I’d be home. I saw another shooting star, and then was heading down my off ramp. I managed to get to bed by midnight.

It’s tough, this life a crime fighter, but someone’s got to do it.

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