Thursday, October 27, 2011

Throwing Up and Slowing Down

So there I was, racing from my physical therapy appointment (my body is breaking down) to my hair appointment (my roots are acting up). I had only 25 minutes to get across town—and find something to eat along the way.  I swung into my favorite midday stomping ground, Chipotle, and grabbed a burrito to go.  While sitting at the stoplight at 28th and Canyon, I scarfed down a few bites in hopes of not having to take my lunch into the hair salon with me.

As soon as the light changed and I turned the corner, I realized that chewing might’ve been a good idea. A lump of tortilla, cheese, beans and rice had parked itself halfway down my throat, refusing to move all the way to my stomach. The inability to take a full breath was immediate and noticeable.  My eyes began to water and my heart raced as I told myself not to panic—all the while still driving. Hello?!

An image flashed through my mind: awakening in a hospital bed and having to explain to the doctors how a burrito was responsible for the three-car pile-up I’d caused. Or worse, coming to on The Other Side and realizing I’d croaked in such an unseemly manner.  Funny, yes.  Dignified, no. I realized I wasn’t ready to learn who won the bet about the afterlife: me (it exists) or Jeff (it doesn’t), so I decided to pull into the first parking lot and put an end to this lodged burrito nonsense.

The idea of barfing came to mind, but know this: I. Hate. To. Barf.  If given the choice of barfing when I have food poisoning or writhing in guttural pain for two days, I’ll choose the latter. When Clare has the stomach flu, I make Jeff rub her back while she kneels at the toilet (seeing someone barf makes me barf). And if it’s Jeff who has stomach issues, he’s on his own.  Um, sorry honey, but you know how I feel about barf. 

So let me paint the full and disgusting picture for you. A 49-year-old woman is sitting behind the wheel of a minivan in a left-hand-turn lane when she suddenly grabs the trashcan off the floor and hurls ten percent of a mostly intact burrito into it. Then she laughs at the absurdity of the situation, makes her turn, realizes she’s activated the gag reflex, picks the trashcan up and hurls again—all while still driving. Then she pulls into a parking spot and gets hit with another gag reflex, releasing a final dollop of what appears to be guacamole into the trashcan.


After gargling with iced tea, I sat quietly for a minute to (dare I say) digest what had just happened. I tend to see life as symbolic, full of signs in the unlikeliest of circumstances. This one was pretty damn clear. Slow the fuck down, Lauren. Take time to digest life, to tackle things one bite at a time—not five bites at a time. Pace yourself.

I sat in the quiet of the idling car for several more minutes, simply enjoying the feeling of a full and deep breath. I vowed (again) to change, to slow the pace of my life, to let go of the unrealistic goals that constantly bait me to run through life at breakneck speed. Eventually, I made my way to the hair appointment, driving slowly and deliberately, and arriving a bit late.

And to answer your question: yes, I did, in fact, finish the burrito.  Hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right?
It's the new me: Ommmmm. Ommmmm. Ommmmm. 

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Lauren's book, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances (In The Telling Press, 2011), is the #1 Top Rated memoir on Kindle. Hardcover copies are available at, or signed copies can be ordered at Happy Reading!

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