Gosh, but it is a tangled neuromuscular web we weave. And on this particular day the weave has been alternately unraveling and tightening.

Let us start with the small stuff, in fact, the smallest. Do I look like someone who keeps adding ‘s to everything? I should think not. Still, this stray character and letter keep popping up even as we speak. And we are speaking, you see, for I write this and everything else with voice recognition software. And although the software may recognize my voice, I don’t recognize it. No, I do not want another pair of ‘s-es here or anywhere. Just thought I’d mention that.

So, the neuromuscular fabric got off to a stunning start, vis-à-vis driving. Surely the three people who read this blog must be tiring of my account of driving in San Francisco. Actually, recently there hasn’t been any driving. That is the thing – the driving force is not driving. So much anxiety has built up around the topic that I can barely get behind the wheel. I am embarrassed to admit this. But then embarrassment is what a blog is all about, right?

The less one drives, or faces any phobia, the worse it tends to get, of course. So for a week at a time my car has just been sitting there being what it is, a Chrysler. Chrysler or crisis, a person might ask. This means that yesterday I got in the car, drove a few streets away, turned right down a precipitous hill, right again, and returned to my parking spot, victorious. At least I had driven somewhere.

Thing is, once a week, isn’t really enough. Something else had to happen, like maybe driving twice a week. Fortunately, San Francisco’s street cleaning program does put a sort of gun to my head. Leave the Dodge in place on the last Tuesday of the month, and the city will respond with an $80 fine. So, being a Monday, there seemed no time like the present. The car had to be moved slightly. And as Jane pointed out, it is actually easier and less stressful to drive a mile over to Noe Valley, a route that involves virtually no hills and nothing more stressful than a few stop signs.

Spurred by this wifely encouragement, this is exactly what I did. I found a parking space. I did a bit of grocery shopping. I had a cappuccino in a crowded café. I did normal things, like a normal person who was also a normal driver.

And to add to the general good outcome, I found another easy parking space. In fact, I didn’t even have to reverse in. Okay, so I wasn’t perfectly positioned the first time. I had to pull forward about a meter. But then it was done. And the next thing I knew, I was home, saying hello to the dog Bixby and heading for the kitchen. I shoved a few things in the fridge. I headed for the sink…or tried to. My wheelchair was flashing warning signals. It wasn’t going anywhere. Neither was I.

Let me just say that this is a nightmare always lurking in the back of the quadriplegic mind. Wheelchair failure is no small matter. I looked down. In maneuvering stuff into the fridge, I had to roll backwards and forwards a few times to get myself properly aligned. I had run over my shopping bag. But so what? Nothing about this should make an electromechanical device throw in the towel. But on closer inspection, a situation revealed itself.

The handle of my shopping bag had somehow hooked itself over a lever. This is a small release I never think about. Its function is to disengage the clutch on one wheel. That’s why the wheelchair was flashing and not going anywhere. Miraculously, there was a solution. Having disengaged the wheel from the motor, I could push with my left foot just enough to get the bag strap off the lever. Voilà. I was on a roll again.

But not for long. I spent the next hour on hold with two separate banks. For once, this wasn’t my fault. A brokerage firm had transferred the wrong amount, then, without warning, withdrew the difference. I had to get all this sorted out. I cursed. I couldn’t get a heavy file out of its folder. Never mind. This is hardly the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone. More as it unfolds.

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