You know, there are times in our lives when we’re on brain-overload and just getting through another day requires super-human effort.

Life has been like that for me for the past six weeks or so.

It started in August with a new Web Design project. Can I ever admit I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? Nope, not gonna happen. So I buckle down and deal, cursing that I’m not a programmer, trying to educate myself on code, and wishing for simple solutions to complex problems.

It continued through Domer’s first semester, when he was juggling Band, classes, projects, job applications, and interviews. Having your only son travel ’round the country via plane, bus, and auto isn’t easy, but at least he was putting forth a concerted effort. He could have been like his mom, who at his age embraced Scarlett O’Hara’s “I’ll worry about that tomorrow” philosophy.

It increased in the  Fall, when my mom started having trouble with her hernia. Every few days, I had to take her to the emergency room at the hospital or an after-hours clinic when she complained of pain. It seemed a portion of her bowel was beginning to poke through the abdominal muscle — a complication from surgery she’d had years before — and it was creating a hernia. They’d fix her up and send her home, only to have it happen again and again.

Finally, someone told her she needed to have surgery to repair it. You don’t want to wait until it’s an emergency, they said.

Three weeks later, they scheduled surgery. And that, too, was hectic, from the actual procedure to the recovery. Released after just two days, she developed extreme pain from the buildup of air in the bowel, which “hadn’t woken up” from anesthesia; they readmitted her.

That crisis, too, passed, and she came home again over the weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve found myself shouldering the lion’s share of work — decorating inside and out for Christmas, buying and wrapping presents, chauffeuring her to appointments, and so forth. My sister would do the same, if she were here. Which she’s not.

My novel-writing has suffered. So has my blog. In fact, there have been days when I haven’t even turned on my laptop.

And the other day I turned on the TV to hear of yet another senseless shooting. This time, of innocent children while they were in school.

So I’ve been AWOL. Trying to gather my bearings. Trying to heal my heart.

I call it brain-overload. And it’s best not to keep shouldering on when it happens, but to take a break.

Before I break.

The holidays seem like a perfect time to do just that. Call it paring down. Or taking a siesta. Or lightening my load.


Best wishes to all my blogging friends for a Happy Christmas and New Year’s Day. I’ll miss you, but I’ll be back in early January.

I Got Satisfaction

For nearly four years now, I’ve been “chauffeuring” My Favorite Domer to and from Notre Dame — for his moves in and out, vacations, and so forth.

And for the entire time, I’ve had to travel along the Indiana Toll Road, which, according to Wikipedia, is a 156.28-mile east-west roadway spanning northern Indiana from the Illinois state line to the Ohio state line.

Had I known from the get-go, I’d have signed up for one of those E-ZPass things. You get a transponder on your car and zoom right through the toll booths, while they deduct the toll amount from your E-ZPass account.


But I didn’t know about all that, and now that he’s a senior it seems moot. Most times I’ve succumbed to what the E-ZPass folks say they prevent — pawing through my purse, or hitting up Domer, or scratching around in my glove box, for change.

Three dollars each way adds up to a pretty hefty amount over four years!

On our most recent trip after Thanksgiving, we came to the toll booth at South Bend, and I handed Domer a twenty for the tab.

No attendant was on duty, so we inserted the bill and had a great laugh over the clanking gold dollars that appeared — much like a slot machine — as my change.

I didn’t count it until we drove off, but quickly realized I’d been shorted.

Three dollars and twenty-five cents, to be exact.

Now that might not sound like a great deal of money, but the toll one way is $3.30.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ Domer advised.

Easy for him to say. He didn’t lose $3.25.

On my return trip, I asked the attendant about making up the difference. She gave me a receipt with the toll road’s number and advised me to call them.

I did after I got home, explaining that I had no receipt verifying my story and apologizing for being so cheap as to complain about three measly dollars.

The woman took down my information/complaint and said it could be 60 to 90 days before I heard anything. They had to audit the machine and see if it really had shorted me.

Well, wonder of wonders. Two days later, another woman called to announce the machine had confirmed my story!

And she needed my mailing address so they could send me my $3.25.

Sometimes it pays to complain. But I’ve got to know — what would you have done, if you’d been me??