Sunday, October 26, 2014


I want to share the events of Wednesday because I don't believe in coincidences. I know that when a certain flawless timing is clearly evident, it is not a random, coincidental occurrence, but rather a reassurance that the Universe is watching over me. Or guardian angels or spirit guides or gods or goddesses or The Almighty, whatever makes you comfortable within the context of your particular faith. I do not promote mine over yours. But I am grateful for the daily guidance offered me by those who have passed over.

So here's what happened:
A week ago—through, again, a chain of events that could only have been orchestrated by powers greater than my own—I discovered a mole—well, actually three new moles, several inches apart, hiding underneath my left breast. I had to stop and think a moment about how long it has been, but oh my gosh, twenty years have come and gone since a chunk of my leg was removed because I was misdiagnosed with malignant melanoma. Turns out it was just squamous cell carcinoma. No big deal, easily treated (May I have some of my leg back, please?), and, within a few years, mostly forgotten. Life changing, though, of course. When your generally affable doctor sits next to you and takes your hand in his before saying, "We think it's melanoma," your life does indeed flash before your eyes. First you see the faces of your children. Then, if you're a writer, you think of all the plot lines you have yet to flesh out.

So when I found these little suckers, I immediately (well, as "immediately" as Kaiser would allow) made an appointment with my primary care physician. I knew that my doc would be as flummoxed as I was about whether these strange gray-ish marks were anything to worry about, but that she'd refer me to a dermatologist and we would go from there. Couldn't wait.

On Tuesday, I arranged a sub with my co-worker, the lovely and no-nonsense Lisa Brandt, whose job it is to find suitable teachers for my classroom. The week prior, however, when I'd been absent to attend the funeral of an old friend, things hadn't gone well in my classroom, so I decided I would leave the house at the usual time, head over to school, make sure the sub had everything she or he needed, then stop by Coco's for a cup of coffee before traveling on to the dreaded but necessary doc appointment.

In reality, here's what actually transpired: When I walked out at 7:00a.m. to go to work, Cloud's battery was dead. (Cloud being my 2003 Ford Ranger. I love her... but... she is getting up there in age.) I popped the hood, tapped on the battery terminals like we used to do with Mom's Oldsmobile (even though I could see that there was no corrosion), and when that remedy didn't work, I went back inside and called the auto club. While I waited, I called Lisa, who had my sub call me, whom I spoke with briefly to make sure everything was good, and just after that call Pedro showed up for the rescue.

"It's the battery or the alternator," he said. "Let it run for 45 minutes to give it a charge, but I would strongly recommend you have it looked at today so you aren't inconvenienced again." Good man. I obeyed, letting it run while I wrote out checks, then I drove around doing errands until it was time for my appointment, which went exactly as I'd expected. Thirty minutes later I was walking back out to the parking lot with an appointment slip in my hand: 3:15pm, Halloween Day. Can't wait.

Here's the cool part: I drove home, changed my clothes, threw the Trek in the back of the truck, drove to Big O (the one in Rancho Cucamonga on Archibald just north of Eighth, where Jim and John manage to keep my wheels rolling in the nicest fashion without ever ripping me off), dropped off the truck and rode home on the bike. As I hefted the bike in through the front door, my phone rang. Antonio at Big O was calling to let me know it was just the battery, they'd dropped in a new one, and Cloud was ready to come home. I took a long drink of water, rolled back out the door, and went to pick up my truck.

There were two things I wanted most to do on that stressful doctor day to re-focus, re-center myself. One was take a long bike ride (mission accomplished!), and the other was to take Sgt. Thomas Tibbs on a long walk. I did that as well.

See, if the battery had gone dead on a day I had to be at work, it would have caused all manner of inconvenience for me (because I'm never, ever late for work), for Lisa, who would have had to scramble around to find someone to sit with my first period class until I arrived, and for my students, who would probably have had to just sit with nothing to do as they waited for me to arrive. But... timing is everything. Thank you again, my guardian angels, my guides. Oh, you know who you are.