Before I go on, yes, I took this picture with my camera phone early on Wednesday morning. :)
My twenty-something (yes, I'm finally old enough to say it's "not lady-like to reveal my age", lol) birthday on Wednesday was the worst birthday since I turned two and had a horrible fever according to my mother. If you've known me long enough, you know that I have the worst luck on my birthday. Except for my 18th and 20th birthdays (and, okay, two years ago wasn't so bad), something bad has always happened on the day of. Either I plan something out and only one person shows up (despite other people RSVP-ing) or it all goes horribly wrong. This year started with food poisoning in the morning... right as I got to Disneyland.
My mom took the day off from work so it would be just her and I (I'm not planning anything big until my 30th in a couple of years) and she decided to take me to Disneyland. I spent the first 2.5 hours of the trip feeling weak and faint (partly because of the food poisoning) and without anything to eat since all they had at the park were breakfast foods I couldn't have with my food allergies. It wasn't until they opened California Adventure that I was able to find a place to eat. (Side note: I seriously recommend eating in CA instead of Disneyland if you have food allergies; it's a bit pricey but they are meticulous about making sure you're both satisfied and full despite your allergies.) We were in both parks for a total of 4.5 hours before we made are way home for the second part of the birthday plans my mom had.
This is where it gets "fun." Our van (we were picked up by Access) broke down twice on the way home. The first time was at Santa Monica College (my alma mater). We had to drop someone off there before going home and the van's battery decided to die before we left the parking lot. We were in a good spot so it wasn't too bad. We did wait for two hours until the company sent someone to help. After that I thought, "Okay, only two less hours to celebrate. That's fine." Little did I know that that would not be the worst of it.
The second and last time the van broke down was on Sepulveda Blvd., just north of Sunset Blvd.... during rush hour traffic. If you live in L.A. you know how bad the 405 and Sepulveda get during rush hour traffic. We got stuck there around 4-5 p.m. when it's at its worst. It was a nightmare. The battery kicked the bucket and not even the car horn or the hazard flashers worked. I personally got out of the van - in the middle of rush hour traffic no less - and started waving at people to go into the left lane because we were blocking the right lane. This was a horrible experience for me because all eyes were on me as I did this... and I absolutely, positively hate that kind of attention. The next three hours showed me what I hate about L.A.
Forget the traffic... the people I saw were some of the rudest I've ever had the "pleasure" of seeing. I got everything from horns being honked to being flipped off. I would yell "jumper cables?" whenever I saw someone looking in my direction. Most everyone gave me a dirty look, some actions and words I don't feel comfortable repeating, or they looked away as if they couldn't see me. One young man asked if we were okay and I was going to tell him that we needed a jump but the cars behind him were honking angrily so he kept going. I did not see it, but my mom (who was in the van) said one woman crossed herself when she saw me outside, trying to get some help. I tried to flag down a AAA guy but he just shook his head and kept driving. A car full of guys were nice enough to try to catch up with the AAA guy, trying to flag him down for us, but they were unsuccessful and kept driving.
There was only one stranger who actually stopped and tried to help us but couldn't. He saw that I was near tears at that point and, despite not being able to help, actually said a prayer for us - asking God to keep us safe until we were able to get assistance - before he left. Up to that point I'm ashamed to say that I'd temporarily lost faith in humanity (at least those living in L.A.) but I am glad that he was the silver lining in the misadventure. He helped me remember that not all L.A. people are jerks and that God was there with me. I was weak, hungry, blood sugar was dropping, anxiety was making it hard for me to stay standing... but somehow I found the strength to stay out there until nearly 8 p.m. when Access (who, btw, showed what a crummy system they have -- seriously? waiting 4-5 total HOURS to send help?) sent someone to rescue us.
We got home late and I was weepy for the rest of the night because my birthday was kind of ruined (I didn't even get to go to Mass at 5 p.m. like I'd planned) but I was glad that we'd gotten home safe. There were a couple of close calls -- cars almost clipping the van -- but we were safe, which was all that mattered. I had moments when I started to think "I try to help people when they need it, so why won't anyone help us three women when we're in need?" but I stopped myself because I knew it wasn't fair to think it. All of this just really drove home the fact that we don't always help people when we can... and that we should really be more charitable towards others. And by we, I at least mean myself. If you do enough, then good on ya. But, let's face it... most of us don't help when help is needed.
In retrospect, typing this out, I really didn't have such a disastrous birthday. Sure, we were stranded in horrific L.A. rush hour traffic without help for 4-5 hours, I couldn't get a hold of any of my friends, my birthday didn't turn out the way I hoped, and the misadventure reminded me of why I've wanted to get out of this city for as long as I can remember... but it also strengthened a desire to help others and also reminded me that God is why me at all times so it wasn't entirely bad. I didn't get what I wanted -- which was a nice, stress free day -- but maybe I got what I needed, which was to be reminded of what is really important in my life.
So, there you go, that was my birthday misadventure. I'm slowly feeling (physically) better and I've been able to keep down food today (though I just ate for the first time today a couple of minutes ago) so I'm on the mend. :) I hope to keep blogging regularly again as soon as I don't have the urge to sleep all day. And, hey, even though my twenty-something year has started off poorly, it doesn't mean it'll continue to stick. I firmly believe that we go through horrible things because something wonderful will come soon. :D
Anyway, I'm going to rest and listen to some Ella Fitzgerald while I lay in bed. :)
I hope y'all had a better week than I did and that you have a great weekend. :D Oh, and let me know if I can offer up this food poisoning/fatigue thing for you. :)
As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D