Yesterday i realized what it felt like to NEED to burn something down.
And then to not do it.
Because, as you know, i’m not an arsonist.
But, i COULD be…if i had to go to the DMV more than once every 10 years.
Because it is these sorts of cattle-in-a-shute, hurry-up-and-wait, please-kill-me-now time killers that i find so inexplicably intolerable. WHY are so many of these situations necessary to our modern life??
Case in point: the mother-effing, soul-sucking, California DMV.
If you move to California, you have 30 days to register your car in California. So, of course, i wait 2 years.
Then, this week, i basically get cattle-prodded by the Man to get it done so i can “really be a Californian” and prove to everyone (but especially HIM) that i’m here to stay. (Didn’t the four boxes of makeup i so lovingly unpacked and stashed all over the house prove my stay worthiness?? Or is it that He just hasn’t found it all yet?? That could be…)
So i find myself needing to physically GO to the DMV to do this thing.
And that’s when i realized i could be an arsonist.
There are things in life that make us SO mad, that we feel like we could hit something or burn something down. You feel me here, right?
But then? We don’t.
What keeps us from lighting that match?
At the DMV, the FIRST day, i wait in the triage line (which is the line to see which line you need to wait in) 40 minutes to find out that i can’t do anything until i get my car smog tested because, it seems, even though my car is under 10 years old, California has a thing for OUTSIDER CARS and if you bring your possibly contaminating car into their delicately balanced, overpopulated but carefully managed ecosystem, you gotsta get that car de-SMOGGED.
i don’t really understand exactly what that entails as i come from Oregon, the land where smog doesn’t exist, and have never had such a thing done. But i dutifully fill out what forms i can, and promise to come back ASAP.
Which ends up being a couple of days later because i first have to YELP “Smog test”, then find a cheap, well-reviewed hole in the wall place (literally). i find the abandoned warehouse/smog test center, fork over $50 and 5 minutes of my time (wow!) and my car is certified CUH-LEAN!!! And i got big fat doggie kisses (with tongue) from the shop pit bull too!
Three days later, i wake up bright and early to get to the DMV before the crowds arrive.
Or i meant to.
Waking up is hard.
But the Man assured me that 10:30am is THE PERFECT TIME for going to the DMV as i raced out of the house, DMV/smog forms and screwdriver thingie in one hand, half eaten apple in the other. (It seems that in CA, you have to physically turn over your out of state plates at the time you register your car. Hence, the totally foreign screwdriver thingie that the Man promised me was all i needed. i hate tools.)
When i arrived, the line-before-the-lines was remarkably short! Whoa! 10:30 IS the magic time!
When it was my turn, i promptly produced all the forms, my title, registration, Oregon plates and screwdriver tool thingie and gave the lady my biggest smile.
“i’m here to register my car! i’m from Oregon!” i say a bit loudly. (i can’t believe how easy this is! And it will only get easier if i am super polite!)
She looks over everything. Twice.
“Follow the yellow line all the way to the end,” she says, never meeting my eyes and pointing vaguely behind her.
i see a yellow line next to a red line that starts just behind her, goes straight for about 5 feet then bends sharply to the right around a corner.
“You betcha!” i exclaim, taking my forms back from the lady’s right hand while her left hand reaches for the forms in the outstretched hand of the person behind me.
OK! i’m on it! i really am going to be out of here in less than half an hour! i put my feet on the start of the yellow brick line and follow it around the corner and…
BOOM. i’m in the line from hell. i stand on tiptoes and see what appears to be the one lone person assigned to deal with this entire line of 50 plus people.
NO WORRIES! i’ll wait! This line can’t take that long and then i’m outta here!
40 minutes later, i find out that this is just the line for the “registration” guy to look over my forms (again) and to tell me to go move my car to an inspection lane outside, ring a bell, get inspected, then come back in. TO STAND IN THIS LINE. AGAIN.
i go get my car from my perfect rock star parking space and drive to the registration lane. After a weird 5 minute stare down with a DMV guy with a clipboard (Why are you looking at me? Can’t you see i’m just waiting here patiently for an inspection?) i find out i’m in the lane for DRIVING TESTS and he was waiting for ME to, like, do something, which turned out to be a quick wave (Sorry! Just visiting!) and a drive around the building to the REGISTRATION LANE, which is definitely NOT the drivers test lane, got out, and rang the bell.
15 minutes later, my car was completely inspected.
15 minutes after THAT, i finally scored another parking space after circling..and circling…and circling some more.
This day was definitely starting to get longer. And weirder.
i was trying hard to keep my smile but when i walked back in, my inspection now added to my growing bundle of forms, title, registration, plates and screwdriver thingie, i realized that i had to go BACK to the second-first line and which was now at about 65 people.
45 minutes later, i am handing everything to Registration Man with a now glued-on maniacal grin on my face which i hoped still read “Hi! i am super polite and friendly!” and not, you know, “crazy”. i stand, almost shaking with tension but working hard at keeping my face smiley with no hint of murder on it.
It was effort wasted, however, because he never even looked up. He took my forms, glanced at them, told me to go take a number and called the next cow…er… person….in line.
An hour later (Who’s kidding? i quit counting…time is irrelevant in space. And at the DMV.) my number was called, i fork over $204 (i may have cried a little) and my Oregon plates (ok..i cried a lot) and walked out with a new temporary registration and two shiny, new, not-bent California plates.
The whole point of this ridiculously long but ultimately happy story is not just that i’m now successfully and legally a Californian. Well, my CAR is now successfully and legally a Californian. i became legal 8 months ago when i passed my CA driver’s test. (Yes, yes…i moved here 2 years ago. Don’t tell! Not procrastinating is hard!) The POINT is, i didn’t murder anyone and i didn’t burn anything down.
Although it crossed my mind.
Stuck in bay area traffic on the one of the three freeways it takes to go the 6.4 miles to the DMV, i found myself staring at an abandoned building near the freeway thinking;
“i bet that building would burn so pretty.”
But there it was. i was SO annoyed (Nay! ANGRY!) that i had just given three days and almost $300 for a piece of paper that was only good for one year to a stupid, redundant and overly-convoluted system obviously rigged to generate THE most income possible with no thought to the residents forced to endure it, that i literally wanted to Burn. Something. Down.
It was a powerful feeling.
It felt SO good to indulge that crazy anger – to immerse myself in it – breathe it in and really BE EFFING FURIOUS – that i let it overtake me for a bit and decided that if i had a match i would get out of my car right now, walk over to that building and set that mutha on FIY-YAH!!!
Reality to candice??? Ummm….what??
Of COURSE i did no such thing. Because i’m not an arsonist.
But i’m also a meditator. And two years ago, before i started meditating, i may have just picked up that match, marched over to that building, and then wished very very hard i had paid attention to my leather-jacketed, cigarette-smoking, class-ditching friends in high school who could light a match by striking it on the sole of their shoe. because by the time i figured out how to light that sad, lonely match, i would probably just have to watch it sputter out because – really? Lighting a building on fire is HARD. i’ve seen Forensic Files! (Really FF? WHEN are you going to have new episodes??) You’ve got to have a whole lotta matches and some kind of accelerant and even THEN to get a really big fire it takes a little wind and a whole lotta luck.
i didn’t have those things.
All i had was two years of meditation under my belt and the ability to breathe. So i breathed. And i breathed.
And i let that anger just flow out with my breath and disappear… leaving behind a sense of calm, serenity and a deep desire for chocolate chip mint ice cream in a waffle cone.
Cuz…….duh! Chocolate chip mint ice cream is the BEST!!!
(i bet even the Buddha ate ice cream…)