July 25
9:45 a.m.

Two good things happened today.

1) Gwen and Mitch couldn’t get away for the weekend—which is good because 2) I checked Walt’s gift—it’s not for this weekend. I’m thanking God I haven’t ruined their weekend plans.

I’m trying not to get ticked off. Walt meant well. He’s just a little insane. Maybe he thought that I’d check the dates. He didn’t actually say it was this weekend.

But…I could have slept in…late.

I was having this great dream that I had my ticket in one hand and was flying to Paris…and there was someone walking with me…holding my other hand…and he turned so I would know who it was…

And the dumb alarm went off. Even the Foo Fighters’ Rope wasn’t making me feel better.

You know how you have that wonderful dream and everything is going brilliantly…okay, I rarely have that dream. Mine are usually about getting to the party and it’s almost done (which is true more times than I’d care to admit), or someone is chasing me and my feet won’t move, or I’m being strangled and can’t scream.

Okay, those are the phantasmagorical experiences of my life.

So when I have that rare dream…and my alarm brings it to an early end…and it could have been avoided…yes, Walt, you could have told me that it wasn’t for this weekend.

_________

July 28
9:15 a.m.

“Natalie, where were you yesterday?”

Folks, I admit it.

My weekend dreams being so crushed, I couldn’t bring myself to work. I just couldn’t face Death and Destruction.

And Walt.

I might have said something that would have hurt him. Then Mark and Kate would hate me for making him feel badly and I’d have to find another job.

“Natalie, I was asking you a question?”

“Yes, Don. I’m sorry. I was…”

“Pastor Don.”

Over my dead body.

“Hmmm…as I was saying, I had emergency.”

In my opinion, when you’re trying to save your mental health, that constitutes an emergency. Needing to spend the day listening to the Foo Fighters, watching “Mansfield Park” and “While You Were Sleeping,” and eating chocolates are all considered emergencies…in iNatalie’s Book of Emergencies.

“In fact, you’re saying, in fact, you actually had an emergency, in fact.”

Welcome to the party, Darlene! I should have taken another day off.

“Yes, I had an emergency.”

“You don’t look like you had an emergency.”

What kind of stupid statement is that?

Don’s looking at me from head to toe. There’s just something about the way that he’s looking at me that is weirding me out. Darlene’s staring at Don while he stares at me. That’s weird too.

“I’m not sure I understand…how does one look when one has had an emergency?” Isn’t there anyone else in the office? I wonder if I can yell for help…

“You’re not authorized to take time off without getting prior approval.” Don’s wagging his chubby finger in my face.

“An emergency, by definition, is an unexpected circumstance…”

“Don’t be impudent with me. I know what emergency means.”

“In fact, I was the one, in fact, who had to fill in for you, in fact.”

“And she’s getting the job done…which she’d have been only too happy to show you how to be efficient and godly…“

Brad walks in, sees Don and Darlene, and turns around and walks right out of the door. The coward.

“Was that Brad?”

“Yes, maybe he wanted to talk to you both about the youth program or the missing sodas from the refrigerator…”

That’s for you trying to run away, Brad.

But here’s the most amazing thing that happened. If you could call it running, Don ran after Brad with Darlene close at his heels yelling at the top of his voice, “Braaad!” I’m watching from the window and am in hysterics as they’re pointing towards my office and Brad has the expression of one in deep pain. Or anger.

In either case, Brad is so going to kill me.

_____

6:35 p.m.

“Natalie?”

“What?”

“Natalie? Is that you?”

“Depends…”

“Hi, this is Andrea…if this is a bad time…”

Poor Andrea sounds so nervous, I start laughing.

“Andrea! I’m so sorry. It’s been one of those days.”

“Me too.”

“You okay?”

“Sort of. Just needed someone to talk to. I’ll buy you dinner—In-N-Out.”

“Will tomorrow work?”

Hey, it’s In-N-Out—you never say no to that!