Color Me Ugly

          9/11/2013 — A special story for 9/11 — Being a jerk isn’t cool on any day, but especially on 9/ll. A leash jerk by the Lord reminded me.

What I fear the most are days like yesterday. It was early morning, September 11, about 2:30 AM when the electricity blacked out. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem since I was going to bed anyway. The snag was, we had just bought a newfangled mattress that raises up and down, and I was sitting up when it happened. The room darkened, and my half of the bed stayed upright. I squeezed over to my husband Alan’s half of the mattress. He was happy to see me until I almost pushed him off the bed.

“My side of the bed won’t go down,” I said. “Electricity’s out.” He went back to dreamland, but I was lying partially on his side and partially on the hump that separates the mattresses. After a couple of hours I decided I’d rather sleep on the bottom half of my side rather than the hump, so I scooted over. My legs dangled over the edge, so I pulled them up nearly to my chin. When Alan awoke at 6 AM I was still awake in my awkward position and the electricity was still out.

There was no going to sleep since a chandelier I’d ordered was being delivered sometime between 8:00 and 11:30 AM. Might as well plan on napping after they left.

Since the wi-fi was out, I went to my IPhone, set up my hotspot, and began checking email. As soon as the hotspot activated, my Gmail flashed. I had a letter from the Senior Editor at a publishing house. Well, something is going right today! She wrote: “I’ve read through your synopsis and part of your first chapter and I’d really love to take a look at the full manuscript for The Crosses of Tarsus.” That’s my finished novel, the plot revolving around a riddle and involving angels and demons.

I went to the publisher’s website to check specifications for sending manuscripts. The setup was a little off the norm, but nothing a computer can’t handle. I checked page layout. No problem on the line spacing. Next was the indent. I lined it up and it seemed alright. However, when I looked through the manuscript, most of the lines weren’t indented correctly and nothing I did helped. I’d have to adjust the indents of my 118,000 word document manually! Four hours and no food later, I saved my work and finished.

Somewhere during that period the lights had come on. Now I was anxious to turn my manuscript around and let this editor know I wasn’t wasting time. However, when I went to my Crosses of Tarsus folder it was gone! It wasn’t under My Docs or any folder anywhere. “This can’t be happening!” I scoured my computer for over an hour, fuming and shrieking, “Crazy flippin’ demons think they’re messing with my mind! Those files have got to be here somewhere. Sleep or no sleep, I’ll figure this out.” In the process, I managed to not only lose that document, but my original manuscript, and a composition I’d written for a class I was taking.

I remembered the golden computer rule: reboot.

Shut it down four times. Nothing.

I went downstairs, more angry than hungry. It was almost noon. Where was that trucking company with my chandelier?—well past their deadline. I called and got an exhaustive recording. When it was my turn to speak, I practically screeched: “You’re supposed to be here a half hour ago. I’ve been up all night and I have a gazillion things to do today! Considering the monumental shipping fee, the least you could do is be on time.” That’s paraphrasing, and as I recall, it may be nicer than what I actually said.

After eating some oatmeal, I finally got an upbeat call from the truck driver. “Hey there! We’re running late, and won’t be there until four.” Not even an apology.

“Four!” I was having none of his joie de vivre. “You were supposed to be here at eight-thirty! Do you think I’ve got nothing better to do than wait on you? I expect a refund on this ridiculous delivery charge. You’d better be right on the money at four.” And I hung up.

I went back upstairs and made one final pass for my lost manuscript and documents. Nothing anywhere. Except now, instead of showing today’s date of 9/11, it showed 6/26. Forget it. I need some shut eye. That editor’s not sitting by her computer waiting for my manuscript anyway.

My stomach was doing karate kicks and consequently I couldn’t snooze. By then, it was about 2 PM, a ridiculous time to sleep anyway. So I laid there peacefully until the phone jarred me.

“We’ll be there at 10 minutes until four,” the truck driver said.

“Four! You said four.” I surely made my point.

It was 3 PM and I hadn’t showered. I decided to take a bath. Of course, the obvious happens.

As I was getting out of the tub, the doorbell rang. I moved slowly, drying my arms and legs, searching for clothes, and throwing on jeans and a blouse. Finally, I sauntered down the stairs.

“Got your delivery,” the man said smiling when I opened the door.

“Take it around to the garage.”

Before I could shut the door, he said, “Will you open it for us?”

I nodded.

Somewhere between the front and the garage door, I felt a pang across my backside and the sting of a still, quiet voice. “Karyn, this may be a test. Do you really think you’re representing Me well today?”

My eyes teared. As I opened the garage door, to see a perfectly beautiful day, I remembered what many people were doing on this forever date: reliving America’s worst nightmare, when the war on terror hit American soil in the form of three airplanes, and 3,000 people died. I felt completely ashamed.

Two very large men stood at the end of the garage open door with downcast, puppy dog eyes. Lambs before the wolf. What a jerk I was. “Guys, I’m really sorry, my problem isn’t with you. I’ve had a bad day.”

I’m sure they could tell. My sopping wet hair plastered around my brick red face and tears filled my eyelids. I looked like a reality show refugee from “America’s most Undesirable.” After depositing my very large package, they handed me a signature form timidly, which I of course signed.

So, no, terrorists aren’t my biggest fear, nor is losing my essay for a class. Or even losing the latest manuscript for a book I’ve worked on for years. My biggest fear lies in the black and grey shadows of my soul and how quickly a bad day can color me ugly. Can overwhelm the person I’ve worked so hard to become. A person God may love, but no one can see the love of God in. Forgive me Lord. And thank you that tomorrow is another day.