danger to myself

danger to myself 4

(image courtesy bre pettis)

I was writing the other day when I heard that familiar sound of the street cleaner outside my door.

danger to myself 1

(image courtesy bre pettis)

The prospect of getting a $49 parking ticket for not moving my car is like a drooling vulture hanging over my head. After messing up a couple times, I know I can’t afford parking tickets and the ones I get outside my own home feel especially rude. I swore to myself I’d never let it happen again. When I got my new calendar, I wrote “STREET CLEANING!” on the first Wednesday of every month. I still had the word “CAR” written in sharpie on the back of my hand from yesterday, when I made sure to park on the other side of the street. So when I heard that street cleaner whirring outside, I ran to the window to look and yes, there it was, an insolent ticket shoved under my wiper.

danger to myself 2

(image courtesy bre pettis)

My brain began to stutter and spit. Here is a time sequence of what went through my mind:

1. But today is Thursday, not Wednesday. Those street cleaners must be drunk. I’m going to march right down to the city offices with that ticket and scream until they rip it up and apologize.

2. But wait. My car is the only one parked outside. That means all my neighbors knew about this. They must have changed the day and forgot to tell me! It’s a conspiracy!

3. No, no, no, this goddamned calendar must be wrong. They put the days in the wrong columns. That’s why it was 50% off– it’s defective! I’m going  right down to the store where I bought it to get my money back. I’ll bring the parking ticket with me and make them reimburse me for my losses!

4. …Blood @ Bloody knuckles # Stars, Stripes & Black Smoke * Bruises ! Bandages ~ Mike Tyson…

5. Um. Waitaminute… walk outside to look at the sign outside my house, the same sign that’s been there since we moved in sixteen years ago, that reads, “No Parking 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm 1st Thursday Each Month Street Sweeping.”

danger to myself 3

(image courtesy bre pettis)

Thursday. Thursday. Sad but true. So dumb it’s almost funny. I got the day wrong.  Maybe I’ll be able to laugh in a year or so, but for now, that $49 ticket still stings. I am devolving into a paranoid delusional old bitch. WTF. Dear husband, dear kids: This is not going to be pretty.

About a week ago I got two rejection emails on one day. I opened one and guess I forgot to open the other (rejection letters are like shots of grain alcohol: approach with caution) but the other night when I was cleaning up my inbox, I came across the unread rejection letter, which turned out to be a request to see the first chapters of my novel. Hello? A Request To See My Writing.

It’s a miracle I read it at all. I never check old email.

Who will save me from myself?

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. Your ‘rejection’ email reminds me of all the ‘junk’ mail envelopes that are made to look like they have checks in them. But, once a year or so, just often enough to make me still open them, they are actually real checks. From class action suits I didn’t know about, to refund checks that I’d forgotten about, etc. So, even though 99% of them are bogus, I do slit the envelopes open, ‘just in case’.

    Congratulations on getting an agent to want to read your work.


    • Checks? Real checks?! Damn. I better start opening those things. (Thanks, Mike. My husband and I held hands and jumped up and down for a minute and then I told him, “That was it. That was the happiness we got from this whole process.” To the man who buys a lottery ticket not because he ever wins but because the hoping makes him happy, this made perfect sense.)

      • macdougalstreetbaby

        That was the Hebrew name I took when I got married. “Tikvah,” which I have been told translates to “Hope.” Of course, I’m not a very good Jew and even worse researcher. It could mean something entirely different for all I know.

  2. Love this. For what it’s worth from this former denizen of the panhandle, the mere mention of tickets right outside your door brings back memories of mad dashes in pajamas to move the car before the ticket. I rarely made it. Way to bury the lead. Perhaps all good things will now occur on ticketed days? A karmic accounting? Three cheers for Anna! xo lizzie

    • Lizzie! There you are!! I buried it pretty well, didn’t I? The opposite of gilding the lilly. My attempt at giving myself a reality check. Now, I’m off to see what you’re up to…. xoox!

  3. macdougalstreetbaby

    First of all, that’s fucking amazing!!!!!! Sorry, I don’t usually curse but that’s just fucking amazing. I will keep my fingers and and wrists and arms crossed for you.

    And for what it’s worth, I’m not very fond of your neighbors.

  4. Yay!!! I read my submission responses while peering between my fingers, so I totally get this. But that just makes the request for pages all the sweeter.

    Congratulations! Fingers and toes, all crossed.

  5. oh dear! maybe you need to pally up with a couple of neighbours who may remind you when they remove their cars

  6. Josette

    Here is a very interesting story. For weeks and months you (or rather your brain) expect positive responses from the publishers. And so he took accustomed to the negative responses and then he forgets to open emails that contain the best answers. And you do not have a chance because during this time a nasty story comes to you with an error of date about parking. Good and it seems bad things happen when we do not expect them! The moral of this story is that perhaps we need to live the present moment as Buddhism says. Who will save you from yourself? Yourselves of course! Hope and best wishes.

  7. gailytr

    keeping fingers crossed

  8. What a hoot this one was! I’m sure glad I don’t live where you live. I never get parking tickets for parking in front of my house. I’d like to give some parking tickets to the bozos who do park in front of my house so that I can’t, though.

    Hey…good luck with the fake rejection notice. I hope the love what they find in your sample chapters.

    • I find that if I think of the ticket not as a fine but as a donation to the city, it alleviates the pain a bit. Where do you live that you don’t get tickets?

      • Well, I should amend that. A boyfriend once got a ticket for parking the wrong direction in front of my house. (I thought he deserved it.) In Boise we do have parking regulations downtown and around the campus, near where I live. But usually, parking is a free-for-all on the residential streets. The trash guys come through the alley. My mailbox is on the street, though and as a courtesy to the mailman (of which I once was one) I try to keep the approach to the mailbox clear. Which is why I get so annoyed at my neighbors who park in front of MY house instead of their own, especially since there the mailbox post we SHARE is in front of MY house and not THEIRs. But, I can’t give them a ticket so I just gnash my teeth.

  9. TheOthers1

    So not a rejection. Sweet! Thats good. The ticket sucks though…

  10. Sorry, had to laugh at the street sweeper story. It’s too bad about the ticket, but the story was hilarious. Probably because I’ve never heard of such a thing as having to move your cars for a street sweeper. And a regularly scheduled one at that. Do streets really need sweeping weekly? Wish someone would come sweep away all the snow here.

  11. Katie

    Love your story. Every time I get indignant, fired up, and/or shouty mad I turn out to be wrong. Every single time.

    Congrats and all that!

  12. aubrey

    A perfect example of fortune playing the balances – bad always following good, or vice versa. The world is Absolutely maddening in the way it keeps you on your toes; so naughty of it. Last year, two of my pieces were accepted for publication, and last year turned out to be one of my worst – I should have known.

    Good luck with the novel, Hat Girl!

  13. A request to see chapters? That is great news. Funny, though, how the world never lets us completely enjoy the moment. A request, a rejection and a parking ticket. Acceptances seem to come only in the midst of a stream of rejections–just enough to keep one going, but never enough to feel satisfied.

    • Exactly, Joe. I’m training my eyes to play tricks on me. I magnify the pros 100x and blur the cons. Makes much easier to take the next step but much harder to walk down the street (groping, banging my head, etc.).

  14. Todd

    Congrats on the request. Hopefully the chump can perceive your talent and makes you a fat offer before Doubleday scoops you up.

    Street cleaners have been the bane of my neurotic, scampering existence since college days in the city and that shared apartment. To this day, no matter where I am, when I here that horrible scraping, whining fascist drone, I jump up, swivel my head about and quick try to remember where I parked. Sometimes I’m in a hotel with may car hundreds of miles away, sometimes I’m in bed forgetting it’s Wednesday… even though it’s Wednesday every seven days. I’ve saved the $49 bucks several times after a 5 minute mile sprint down the block in my boxers. God I hate those MFing street sweepers. When the revolution comes I’m gonna bazooka every last one.

    Hey, I read in another post that you’re part Irish too, no wonder I like your stuff. When I want to piss off my mom, I tell her the only thing the Irish are known for is drinking, fighting and a shit load of blarney. And that’s a good thing!

  15. Todd

    My shillelagh, of course.
    Sorry, but I couldn’t stand Joyce in school and caught hell from the prof’ for saying so. Maybe I should try him now and see if I’ve changed.

    • Shillelagh. Ha.
      And did you major in English, Todd?
      I like Portrait OAYM but Finnegan’s Wake? You’ve gotta be kidding.

      • Todd

        I majored in film, wanted to make documentaries. I made a couple shorts and worked in it for a while but was starving and disenchanted with the flakes I kept encountering… mom’s artsy menagerie redux. I was always more practical than artistic. I forgot that I did recently re-read Araby… very underwhelmed. I think it’s probably an issue of subject matter and perspective not his vaunted literary abilities. What I’ve read of his (Dubliners) is just too dreary for me, even if “brilliant” in delivery. I remember, in school, I wrote a paper comparing the structure and subliminal sexual meanings in Paralysis to Sergei Eisenstien’s theory of dialectic montage in his film The Battleship Potemkin. It was complete BS I made up but the prof bought it and I got an A. Is it true reading Ulysses used to be an alternative punishment to five years in a Siberian Gulag? Finnegan’s Wake? How many pages? I got a job ya know!

        • Paralysis of Whose Subliminal Dialectic Pomegranate? WTF are you talking about? I wrote things in college I no longer understand, I can’t even pronounce. It was like a parasite took over my body and made me do weird things. Zombie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go_LIz7kTok

          • Todd

            I just watched that snail video. Ugh, that’s gross!
            Things that have taken over my body and made me do weird things:
            * Assignments for college papers, yes
            * A jalepeno I thought was a green bean
            * Wasabe I thought was guacamole
            * Felicia and her rubber chicken
            * Listening to Tony Robbins on shrooms
            * That friggin’ Guinness after seven Jägers

  16. A little miracle, right? Great news!

  17. You are hilarious. And . . . . no one, only you can save you from yourself and that kind of crazy. LOL!

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