It's That Time of Year.....

No, I'm not talking about the Season of shopping Goodwill to Men;  I am, of course, referring to Mercury Retrograde, which took us a bit by surprise this time.  I suppose, having managed to survive the last round, we were so relieved to have it all over and done with that we didn't bother to look ahead, which meant that, when things started going agley here, it took us a few days to realize what was going on.

Ironically -or cruelly, your choice - Mercury jumped its course on our Thanksgiving Day this year, which means that it hit at a time when most Americans are preoccupied with food and entertaining as opposed to maintaining constant vigilance - really the only possible hope for defense.  When not one, but two (or maybe we were already up to three) long-distance burocratic snafus had taken place within the course of just a day or so, MrLogical jokingly asked me if Mercury was retrograde.  Much to our surprise (but with a certain bitter sense of vindication) we discovered that Mercury was, indeed, on its way into another one of its charming retrograde periods, although, at the time, we were still only in the 'shadow' of Mercury retrograde, which the internet astrologers assured us was not nearly as serious as Mercury being retrograde itself,  giving us something to look forward to with the same level of grim anguish with which one anticipates, say, a barium enema or death by lethal injection.

As of this writing, Mercury has been technically doing its thing for only 3 full days, but the mayhem began in earnest about a week ago, resulting in a lot of bitter laughter, black humor, and carbohydrate consumption by yours truly.  To those of you who are saying, "Pshaw! This is the 21st century, not the Middle Ages! This is an era ruled by technology and logic!" I say, you are probably right, but having Mercury to blame things on seems somehow preferable to admitting that I'm an idiot I have been a bit disorganized and distracted lately.  On the list of Things To Blame on Mercury Retrograde So Far:

  • The sudden shocking realization that the registration on Son#1's car had expired back in June.  (Note:  Son #1 was supposed to have done this before flying to Korea, so it's technically not my fault, except that I feel I should have nagged him more, but - what with packing up our lives to move halfway across the world - renewing the registration on a car about to go into storage wasn't foremost on either of our minds.)  While this is not the end of the world, it is certainly problematic, since Son #1 and I will be flying back to the US in January, where we'll be picking up the (presently illegal) car from Grandad's house and driving it six hours south to the university to install Son#1 there as an undergraduate. A brief perusal of the registration procedures online indicated that, at this point, the only possible option for getting the vehicle registered was for Son#1 to present himself in person at the DMV in Bexar County, where he would need to pay not only the registration fee, but also a penalty for not doing so on time.  The phone call in which we tried to explain to the authorities that we needed to register the car before driving it across the state (and why) was another one of those conversations that only (apparently) takes place when you are in Korea and the car in question is in Texas.  After quite a lot of wrangling and explaining, we were told to make copies of every identifying document pertaining to ourselves and the car, and to write a letter explaining our 'unique' circumstances, and that maybe - but no guarantees, mind you - it could be done by mail.  What will happen if they do not allow us to do this via mail(not to mention what they will do with all those copies and our check), I am trying not to think about, since our travel plans include arriving in Dallas and making the drive in Son#1s car to San Antonio, which - obviously - will be somewhat difficult with a glaringly expired registration sticker.  In addition, while I, personally, have never had any but the most cordial dealings with Texas law enforcement, I have no desire to get embroiled in complex negotiations with a State Trooper or Ranger or whatever the guys in the sunglasses and the cowboy hats are called (Note:  As a native Northeasterner, I must say I find the cowboy hats to be charmingly Texan, although I would likely feel differently if pulled over for a violation.)

  • The Heinous Sweet Potato Incident of Thanksgiving 2011:  As I mentioned earlier, we had been invited to attend a Thanksgiving potluck on Saturday night.  Since approximately 30 or so guests were expected, I made a double batch of my mother-in-law's incredible sweet potato casserole, which I then interred in a beautiful (and seasonally appropriate) casserole dish of harvest gold, (which came with its own wrought iron stand for the table, just so you know how perfect it was.)  In a fit of unusual responsibility, I cooked and assembled this several days in advance and froze it, with the intention of thawing it the night before our meal and baking it right before leaving.  I would have been successful, too, except it turns out that the casserole dish -which measures a whopping 10"x 14" - was too big to fit in my tiny Korean oven.  If you are stunned and shocked at the fact that my oven is that small, well, so was I.  I knew I couldn't fit, say, a turkey in there, but it never occurred to me that I could own a dish that was bigger than any oven's interior.  After a brief - but thorough - meltdown, I ended up dividing the casserole into two smaller (and much uglier) pyrex baking dishes and cramming them into the oven by means of witchcraft brute force and hysteria.  They did, somehow, fit, but of course, scooping them up out of their original dish meant that the carefully-sprinkled pecan-and-brown-sugar-and-butter topping was no longer a lovely brown crust above the warm orange potatoes, but now integrated as brown lumps throughout, which may not sound like a crisis, but felt like one to me, especially as the clock was ticking down towards 6pm and my lovely casserole presentation had become as ashes before my eyes.  MrLogical and the boys tiptoed around, speaking in the calming voice that one uses with aggressive dogs, and saying unhelpful things like, "It doesn't matter what it looks like, it'll taste great anyway."  They were ultimately correct, and the potatoes looked just fine on the table along with all the other international Thanksgiving food, which included kimbap, Asian dumplings,  and Soljanka.  I, however, am still bitter and have not forgiven my oven.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Intact Topping.  This is not what mine looked like.
  • A failed trip to the Korean DMZ :  One of the things on our to-do list while in Korea (and especially requested by Son#1 before returning to the US to Uni, so now I have motherly guilt) was to visit the Demilitarized Zone, approximately 90 minutes north of us.  We decided to do this on a tour over the long Thanksgiving weekend, since, it seemed like an appropriate time to be grateful for the fact that we did not live in a communist dictatorship.  I will simply say that, apparently, many others had the same plan, and, by the time I got around to making the reservations, there were no seats left. We still have a couple weeks to get this done, so it may yet still happen.  Or not.
Korean soldiers at the DMZ

  • Losing my Kindle.  As an avid reader and bibliophile/bibliomaniac, I never thought I would want an e-reader, since I get enormous pleasure from having the books themselves.  However, as we packed for our move to Korea, it quickly became clear that the hundreds (thousands?) of books that I hoarded enjoyed having in my home in the US would not have anywhere to go in our small apartment in Korea.  Learning that one small Kindle can hold innumerable books - and that many of my favorite classics could be downloaded free of charge - changed everything for me, and when my very astute mother-in-law presented me with one before we left for Korea, I fell instantly in love.   Things were going along swimmingly until we took a bus trip to Osan just about a week ago, where I apparently left my darling in one of the seat pockets. Several frantic phone calls to the bus depots in both Osan and Seoul were fruitless.  I have been in deep mourning ever since, both for the Kindle and for the apparent decay of my mental faculties.
  • Misplacing of Son#1's immunization records:  Part of Son#1's application for University housing includes proof that he has been adequately immunized against bacterial meningitis, which I was fairly sure had been done several years ago.  Naturally, the University requires proof of this.  Naturally, I could not find Son#1s immunization records, although I clearly remembered getting a copy of them before we left.  Naturally, due to the Health Care Privacy Laws, our pediatrician in the US could not:  a) tell us over the phone if Son#1 had even had the shot or b) fax or mail a copy of said records without Son#1 presenting proper ID in person, or someone else presenting an original (eg, not copied, scanned or faxed) power of attorney, and a papal dispensation.  Naturally, Son#1 could not apply for - or be assigned - housing until proof of vaccination was submitted.  Naturally, he'd put off the application for a while and time was growing alarmingly short as housing was filling up. Eventually, after looking no fewer than three times through all my files, I found the immunization record - with proof of the meningitis immunization - precisely where I'd looked three times before - in the folder marked "Son #1 Health Documents."  

  • Cruel and unusual flight scheduling. We will be spending our winter vacation in Thailand, and returning from Phuket on an overnight flight, which seemed like a reasonable choice when we made it initially.  However, a closer look at the flight schedule reveals that we will be returning from our holiday in Thailand at 10am Wednesday, which means that Son#1 and I will have less than two days to unpack from Thailand and re-pack for the 18-or-so-hour journey on Friday back to the US to install him at University.  While this split-hair scheduling will probably not have any deleterious effects on Son#1, I strongly suspect that it will have a number of negative effects on my middle-aged constitution.
If it sounds like I'm complaining, you're damn right I'm complaining  I sincerely apologize.  As is always the case with Mercury Retrograde, none of the incidents I've been whining about are life-threatening, disastrous, or dangerous.  They are, as is usually the case with Mercury, simply annoying and inconvenient.  

Besides my mood has been significantly lighter since Son#2 informed me the other night that, when he reaches 18, he is planning to change his name to " Shadowfax Steele."

Has a nice ring, doesn't it?


Karen said…
I had a good chuckle to end my Thanksgiving weekend, Carolyne. I'm just about off to bed after an unusually brutal bout of cramps that drove me to my ibuprofen bottle and even got me to ask hubby to fetch me the heating pad. Down to just normal, mild cramps now, so think I will go to bed.
Please...I feel in control right now...schoolwork is done, some online Christmas shopping is done, Christmas tree is purchased and standing in the living room awaiting decoration and all is well. Don't let the retrograde strike here! Had a good laugh at your "brief but thorough meltdown" wish I could have seen that, as a fly on the wall of course. Your poor menfolk...tiptoeing around in what sounds like mortal terror!
Off to bed for me, feeling much more human and a bit grateful for such a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Looking forward to that week off at Christmas already!
MsCaroline said…
Karen - sorry you had to turn to Ibuprofen (surely, at this age, it should be a walk in the park, and yet, for so many of us, it seems to be getting worse!) but glad it worked. I have my tree up and many (but not all) gifts purchased, although they still need to be wrapped and mailed (groan). I have a feeling you would have been a lot more sympathetic about my meltdown - which, much to my everlasting embarrassment, actually bordered on tears - than the menfolk were. I suspect it was a combination of things with tiny stove/big dish/hideous potato mess being the final straw. Looking forward to our vacation myself, although I suspect I'll be wildly busy between now and then. Trying to keep my head down and sense of humor intact!
Barbara said…
My sympathy on the lost Kindle! I dropped mine on a tile floor and broke the screen while in Tanzania. I cried! Amazon replaced it free because they said it was covered under warranty. But by the time I paid for the phone call, the import tax, and shipping to send in the broken one, I'd paid about half the price of the new "free" one. But I was lost without it! And then, back in the U.S I left it in a restaurant and drove on to the next town and didn't miss it for several hours. But when I called the restaurant, the manager had set it aside for me and was waiting for a call, so I got it back. I try to be so careful with it now because I was so traumatized when forced to do without! If you like to read and you like to travel, you gotta have a Kindle!
Wilma said…
Carolyne, what on earth were you taking sweet potato casserole for? You should have been taking pate and the turkey pate knives! LOL (Sorry couldn't resist.) Seriously, sorry to hear about all the craziness that has been going on in your world. Hopefully it will calm down soon.
MsCaroline said…
Barbara - I'm so happy that I'm not the only adult who cried at the loss of a Kindle! Thanks for restoring some of my dignity. I have another one heading this way, although - sadly -not for free. The warranty does not seem to cover 'stupid' or 'forgetful'...unfortunate.

Wilma - Argh! You're right! I should have used the !@#$%^& pate' knives!
Barbara said…
OK, I just have to say that you are in sad shape if you have to rely on me to maintain your dignity! I provide a very low threshold of dignity!
MsCaroline said…
Barbara - I'll take any dignity I can get, regardless of the threshold. Surely you've realized that by now?
; )
Trish said…
Like Karen, that perfect phrase "brief but thorough meltdown" made me laugh a lot. Sums it all up brilliantly.
I'd be tempted to just hide under the duvet for a while until this Mercury thingy takes a hike.
MsCaroline said…
Trish - I have been tempted to do just that more times than you can imagine!

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