so "how could this get worse?" always seems to end up being a rhetorical question. i close up the plywood shades at job#1, zip the day's earnings into the vinyl bank pouch, stuff the measly bills from the tip jar into my purse, and walk to where i think i parked my car.

this should take 5 minutes. i can do it with my eyes closed, practically. i am thinking for like one blissful second* not about my shitty life situation but about atty. atty, who is two and smells like warm milk, who has my dad's green eyes and the softest baby curls. this morning when i dropped him off at my parents' house he was still asleep so i just laid him on the sofa and covered him with a blankie. kiss on the cheek light-as-feathers so he wouldn't wake up. it's a cliche (all motherhood is cliche, i learned that in college) but my heart really did ache as i slipped out on him. anna karenina: i feel you, girl.

*and the thing is when my mind wanders it's like i don't even see what's in front of me. it's like my brain is a single-screen movie theater showing the same home movies over and over again. so as i'm thinking of atty (sleeping atty, laughing atty, atty with yogurt in his hair) that's all i see, literally, in front of my eyes. the rest of my body goes on cruise control. i call this "time traveling" and it can take me over for hours, zoning out. dr. ben used to slap his hands together right under my nose to snap me out of it, demand to know what i was thinking.*

*FYI: usually the wrong thing, in case you wondered.

so i time-travel along the sidewalk, one hand on my cell and my mind on my kid, and it takes me a minute to see that my car not only has a slashed tire but also a neatly folded sheet of baby-pink paper under the windshield wiper. the ruined tire has more than one gash in it, long ugly cuts straight out of a horror flick that actually wrap around the wheel, the rubber cut open and the edges of each cut furling and feathering little pieces of shredded black tread that stinks of petroleum and asphalt. i kneel down on the curb, trying to reconcile my dreamy state of mind with this turn of events. it seems like nonsense. like a cartoon, almost. somebody with a big knife and a bone to pick did this, for sure: not a random on-a-dare kind of thing. this is not punctured it is STABBED.

my hands start to shake. up the street, down the street, nobody looking at me or noticing me down in the gutter. (figures.) plenty of shoppers but nobody i know, which at this moment could be described as a mixed blessing.

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