improvement

Better Late Than Never

Hi.

It’s been a while.

As is tradition right before the new year, I abandoned all self-made promises, and made tons of excuses as to why. “I’m taking a break from writing–I mean, I wrote a novel.” “It’s so cold outside, and I was sick, so of course I couldn’t run.” “I haven’t blogged in forever, I can’t just sit down and start again, I need to explain why.” “I have so much work to do!”

All lies, for the record. Or, perhaps excuses is a better umbrella to put them under. I come from the school of thought (and the place of privilege) that you make time for the things you love, things you’re passionate about. And I haven’t made time. I have procrastinated (I just watched through the entire Lizzie Bennet Diaries again) and pushed everything I ought to do to the perpetual “tomorrow morning.” I have argued circumstance and life situation (sickness and NaNoWriMo shouldn’t get in the way), and everything a serial procrastinator has up their sleeve. I can run circles around things I need to do—it’s a gift.

But no more. It’s a new year, and while I’m kind of against sweeping life statements (despite the fact that I make them quite often), I might as well get into the spirit of self-improvement. No goals this month, just… hopes. As you might know from previous entries, I’m a pretty big fan of forgiveness, especially when it comes to yourself. And while the new year is a great time for becoming the better you, it’s also important to remember that you are only human. Trying to become the super human version of yourself will only bring you disappointment. So rather than steadfast resolutions, let’s talk about hopes for the new year. Let’s talk about all the ways we can find happiness.

Yesterday morning, over toast and scrambled eggs, my best friend read last year’s hopes aloud. Rather than writing down all the ways she should improve or change, she’d decided to list all the things she could do for a fuller life—a happier existence.

So let that be your challenge. Even if it is the second of January—no one says you can’t begin something new any time you want. Write out a list of things you can do this year to improve your overall happiness. And check them off as you fulfill them. Whether it is greater forgiveness, walks in the park, drinking more tea, visiting friends, road trips, readings, finding religion. Improve your life, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy it along the way.

And welcome back to Staving Off Disaster. I’ll be here all year.

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Betterment: City Driving – Intersections

Let me begin with a confession: I have a lot of road rage. It isn’t my proudest trait, but if you make a mistake on the road, fear not, I’m screaming at you from the comfort of my driver seat. If I make a mistake, I feel guilty about it for weeks (I STILL feel terrible about my mistake from last week–driving straight through a turn only lane and almost crashing into a van). I scream about driving a lot because I’m constantly worried, constantly in fear that someone else’s stupidity (or my own) is going to cause a pile-up. I am trying my hardest to concentrate 100% on the road–you should too.

I say this because my friend once commented on my road rage with a simple statement: “you must think you’re the best driver on the road.”

I am not the best driver. And whenever I think about defending my “GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE, IDIOT,” I think of the statistic that says 93% of drivers believe they are better than average. Am I part of this terrible statistic? Probably. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to try to impart some driving wisdom on you.

We’re first going to talk about city driving, specifically intersections. It’s a hot mess most of the time, and I’ve done my fair share of wrong turns. But some stuff needs to be restated.

When making a left hand turn at a green light, you are allowed to drive into the center of the intersection, even if there is oncoming traffic. The purpose of this is simple–by being in the middle of the intersection you guarantee that you will get through the intersection when the light turns yellow and then red, and move traffic along. You are also making room for the cars behind you to go around you–again guaranteeing the flow of traffic.

If you are behind a car turning left, you do not have to wait until they have cleared the intersection to move through–you are allowed to go around them. If you hesitate, it’s possible that the cars behind you will assume you too are turning left, and pass you on the right. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR PASSENGER SIDE MIRROR AND BLIND SPOT BEFORE PASSING ON THE RIGHT. Especially if you are driving in a city any number of things can crop up while you wait at an intersection–cyclists, other drivers, pedestrians.

On the same note, it is highly unsafe to go around a left turning car before the light has turned green. (For example, if you approach a red light and notice the driver in front of you has their left blinker on, you should not wait on their right. Not only are you preventing other drivers from turning right on red, you are putting yourself and the other driver in a dangerous position should they change their mind before the light turns green. Wait behind them until the light has turned, and then go around them.) This is one of my bigger pet peeves, since on more than one occasion I have had to make way for a driver waiting on my right at a red light. If a line has formed at a green light and doesn’t appear to be moving, it is safest to assume that everyone is going straight and the intersection is just too busy to get through. Unless you see left blinkers, do not assume the line is turning left. Wait until you are closer to the intersection (at MOST two or three cars away, with a view of the road past the intersection), and then pass the cars turning left. It may take you an extra red-light rotation to get through, but you’ll ultimately be safer.

One final note on intersections–it is illegal in most states to enter an intersection if you cannot clear it by the time the light changes. That means that if the next light is backed all the way up to your intersection, you have to wait at the green light until there is enough room for your entire car to clear the intersection. If when the light changes to red you are blocking traffic in the other direction you are in violation of traffic laws and can be ticketed. You are preventing oncoming traffic from flowing, and are all around just a selfish tool.

Obviously there are exceptions to all of these rules. First and foremost, your priority should be safety. I also want to note that laws differ from state-to-state. I learned to drive in New York state, and currently live in downtown Minneapolis, MN. I make no claim to know the laws of North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada, etc. Always check local laws if you are uncertain. If you believe I am misinformed in any way I welcome comments and dialogue.

Good luck driving! Hopefully you won’t look in your rearview mirror and see me screaming at you any time soon.