Hear Me Roar

Women are afraid of mice and murder, and of and very little in between.
– from The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, by Mignon McLaughlin

I was walking home from the bus last night and as I passed my car in the parking lot, I noticed a note on my windshield. I picked it up, turned it over, and found that some nice neighbor of mine had kindly advised me that I had a flat rear right tire. I went around to the passenger side, and sure enough, I did. Closer inspection revealed a screw lodged between the treads in the middle of the tire. I was inexplicably ill at the time, however, so I didn’t do anything about it last night.

Today, though, I was able to leave work early to come home and take care of it. Now, I’ve never actually changed a tire before, and I wasn’t convinced I could do it. I tried once, about 6 years ago, but I couldn’t get the lug nuts off no matter how hard I tried, and I sat in the parking lot and cried until someone took pity on me and stopped to help. (I’m not proud of that, but in my defense, it was three weeks after I lost my hearing, and two weeks after I’d fallen and torn my rotator cuff, and I’d just come out to the parking lot to discover I had a flat, so I was just about at the end of my rope.)

Anyway, luckily, there was no one in the space next to me, so I unloaded my trunk and strategically placed the removed items outside the empty space so that someone wouldn’t come careening into the space and kill me before I could triumph over the tire. See?

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The stool I brought down from my apartment so I wouldn’t have to kneel on the pavement; I was glad more than once that I thought of that. Then, I carefully followed the instructions in my manual – so nice of them to provide that, I think – and popped off the hubcap, and was able, with a fair amount of effort on my part (that torn rotator cuff is going to be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure) to loosen the lug nuts. That’s when I knew I was home free.

Once the lug nuts were loose, I carefully placed the jack under the car precisely where the manual said to:

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And then it took about 100 years to crank the thing up because I had to keep taking the wrench off at the end of each revolution because it would hit the ground. There’s probably a way around that, a secret that only boys know or something, but whatever. I got the big tire off and the little, puny, sad-excuse-for-a-tire spare on, lowered the jack, tightened the lug nuts and I was done! In under 35 minutes, and all by myself! I was quite proud; I even had axle grease all over my hands.

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Then I drove to CostCo to see about replacing the tire. I was so psyched when the guy told me the screw was in the “perfect” place and I wouldn’t actually have to replace the tire, I could just get it plugged (the tires were close to brand new when I bought the car in November, so I was not happy at the prospect of having to replace one, if not two, of them). He couldn’t do it for me because I didn’t buy my tires there, so I drove to a service station to see if they could. They could and they did, and it only cost me $20! I gave the guy an extra $5 for himself because he did it so quickly and then spent about 10 minutes getting my jack and spare securely back in the trunk.

So, yay me! I feel oddly accomplished. This is the kind of thing I think a lot of women would automatically outsource, either to a significant other or to AAA, and I feel proud that I did it myself.

Maybe for an encore I should learn to change my own oil.

So Much for That Idea

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.
– Jane Austen

Sorry I didn’t return to regular programming – I got busy dealing with the body shop, the insurance adjustor, a lying student loan company supervisor (Oh, you’ll call me back in 48 hours, max?  Really?  I think someone’s pants are on fire.), and crappy apartment maintenance people (Oh, you can’t come today like you said you would, but you’ll be here first thing in the morning?  Really?  Oh, you’re sorry you couldn’t make it this morning, but it’s after hours now and a dishwasher is not an emergency but you promise you’ll be here tomorrow?  Really?  Oh, you couldn’t make it again today, but this time you super-duper promise you’ll make it tomorrow?  Really?  Suck on it.  If I get West Nile virus from the nasty, standing water in the bottom of my dishwasher, I may go all Lawyer on you.) – and frankly, was not in the mood for Things to Be Happy About.  But don’t you worry, I have a bang-up Christmas edition all ready to go for you – it will be like an extra present for you to open Christmas morning!

So the car: remember how I said how thankful I was that the damage wasn’t extensive?  Either I know nothing about cars, the body shop and insurance adjustor are ripping me off, or I jinxed myself.  I think it’s the first one, but I’m not positive.  We’re up to $2200 and they haven’t even put the car on the lift yet.  Awesome.  Thank god I wasn’t one of those people who said “Oh, I never get in accidents, so I can handle a $1500 deductible.”  I know myself better than that, and went for $500.  That hurts, especially at the holidays, but it could be worse.

Remember also how I said how great my boss is?  He gave us Christmas presents yesterday, which I was not expecting at all (we already did our “annual round robin gift exchange,” you know).  Two words: Coach wristlet.  If you know anything about me, you know I do not care about labels and I would never buy myself Coach anything, but I was amazed at his generosity.  It’s beautiful and classic – plain black leather – but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.  Does anyone use one of these?  I’m stumped in the face of such a thing.

Speaking of gifts, I am officially done, and everything is wrapped, as of last night.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I left one thing for my brother unwrapped because I may have to exchange it after I get to his house tonight and see if he already has it.  He won’t be there til Sunday night – he’s on an out-of-town job – so it will be safe.

And speaking of my brother, welcome him to the blogosphere, won’t you?  He’s not a great speller, but I love him anyway.

Crash

“I started to slow down but the traffic was more stationary than I thought.”
real statement on an accident claim form, borrowed from Funny Insurance Claims

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Tuesday programming to bring you this breaking news update:

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Seriously? I’ve had my car exactly five weeks today, and some jackass stops IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to wave at his friends on the corner, causing three cars behind him to stop short, which resulted in my hitting the guy in front of me. I’m fine – a little achy, and my head hurts, but that may be from the crying I did at the scene at first as well as the stress and frustration of being in an accident, so I’m keeping an eye on it and will definitely head to the emergency room if I start to feel worse. My brother has assured me that it’s a concussion, not whiplash, where you sometimes go to sleep and don’t wake up, so that’s comforting. The other driver is also fine, but achy as well, he said.

Unfortunately, I was the third car – I’m never “lucky” enough to be the one who gets rearended, I’m always the one doing the rearending (shut it, dirty girls) – and the jackass didn’t get hit or stay behind after the accident, so I’m on the hook for it.

I hit a Mercedes. The last guy I rearended (2005) was driving a Mercedes. I’m sensing a rivalry between my Saturns and all Mercedes in my path. But the driver, a young guy, could not have been nicer, especially after a witness (who was in car #1 that had to stop short) came back to the scene after having trailed the jackass and gotten his plate number and make/model of his car and explained what happened. She also waited with us for the police and offered to speak to our insurance companies as well. The friends the jackass was waving to didn’t bother to stick around as witnesses, which is no surprise, I suppose, but still sucks.

We called the police, and the officer was a bit of jerk at first, but mellowed out by the end. After some ersatz CSI-ing, he determined from my skid marks that I was only going about 20 miles an hour when I hit the brakes. As you can see from the picture, the damage honestly isn’t that bad, I’m just pissed because I love my car so much and driving a car that has body damage makes me feel like a loser. The Mercedes has similar damage on its rear bumper – you can tell how hard I hit the brakes because of how high the damage is on my bumper and how low it is on his.

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So, boo. I called the insurance company and filed the claim. I gave them the jackass’s info and the witness’s name and number, and we’ll see if they do anything with it. I just know my rate is going to go up, which bites, and it’s going to be a pain trying to get this fixed before the weekend – I’m going to Richmond Friday night, but I think my radiator is leaking because of the accident, so I might have to get a rental to drive that far. Thankfully, my boss is very understanding, so I have the morning off (and the day, if I need it) to get the car to the body shop for an estimate. Hopefully the adjustor will come soon and I can get everything taken care of quickly. And, on the bright side (it is Tuesday, after all), no one was hurt, the guy I hit and the witness were lovely people, the damage is not extensive, and I have good insurance.

Your regularly scheduled programming will return tomorrow.

Car Sickness, or, that Feeling You Get When the Monthly Payment’s Due

In less enlightened times, the best way to impress women was to own a hot car. But women wised up and realized it was better to buy their own hot cars so they wouldn’t have to ride around with jerks.
— Scott Adams

So it’s done! I traded in my nearly worthless, inspection-failing, 10-year-old Saturn SL for a 2006 berry red Saturn ION2. I dig it so much. It’s the newest car I’ve ever owned, and it’s so pretty. Here’s a picture:

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Ok, that’s not a picture of my actual car; that’s a picture of the car I almost bought this summer, which was a 2007 ION3, but mine looks just like this (except the interior is gray, not tan like this one). Plus, this one has fewer miles on it than that one did.

Between this summer and Monday, I test drove four or five IONs, and ended up buying from a Saturn dealership, which was my preference. I was very happy with the level of service I received from them, which is part of the reason the only cars I’ve ever owned have been Saturns. I still have the balance of the factory warranty on the new one (about 10,000 miles or 18 months), and since I calculated that I will probably only drive about 6,000 miles this year, I’m pretty well set in that department. And, I think I got a pretty good deal, so I am a happy camper.

Things I love about my new car:
1. Power steering
2. Power windows
3. Power door locks (Sensing a trend? My old car was so manual, you practically had to push it to get where you wanted to go)
4. It’s automatic (I wavered on this a bit; I love driving stick, but in DC traffic, it’s a pain in my ass, so I’m giving it up)
5. Keyless entry! And a key fob! I can freak people out by making the interior light turn on from far away!
6. It’s MP3 compatible – now (I assume and hope; I’m not technical and I didn’t ask and haven’t read the manual yet) I can listen to my iPod through the car stereo!

Things I am not so psyched about:
1. Having a monthly car payment when I only drive my car on weekends (public transportation around here is great, and there’s no commuter parking at the nearest Metro station, so I generally don’t drive on weekdays).
2. I almost doubled my car insurance payment, since this one’s obviously worth more than the other one.
3. I had to leave behind my Universidad de Salamanca sticker because it wouldn’t come off in one piece. (I also had to leave my law school sticker and my undergrad alumni sticker, but those are easily replaceable, though I probably won’t bother.) I really would like to replace it – I have such good memories of that time – so if any of you feel like searching the internets on my behalf, I’d appreciate it. I did a brief Google, but my Spanish is so rusty the University of Salamanca site makes almost no sense to me.

All in all, though, I think the pros outweigh the cons (key fob!). I am looking forward to the drive to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving in complete, automatic transmission-ed, iPod-ed, ease and comfort.

Oh, and a big congratulations to all my law school comrades who just found out today that they passed the New York bar exam! I never had any doubt! Now get back to earning those six-figure salaries!

Things to Be Happy About, Vol. 3

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a daily basis.
– Margaret Bonnano

Sorry for the lateness of this post; I’ve been dealing with car-related issues all day. The cost of fixing my 10-year-old Saturn so that it will pass inspection is three times what the car is worth, so I am about to become the proud owner of a 2006 berry red ION. I almost drove it home tonight, after test driving it yesterday, but I didn’t get financing confirmation until too late in the day to get insurance, so I have to wait until tomorrow. I am not wild about having a car payment again, especially since I drive my car approximately one day a week, but I am psyched to have POWER STEERING again, baby! Wooooo! Pictures to follow.

Anyway, on to this week’s list:

1. Memphis Belle (movie)
2. the sights and sounds of an airport or train station
3. a cappella music
4. finding out you’re going to be an aunt
5. Fantasy Football
6. cold sesame noodles
7. the time right after you put the babies to bed and go downstairs to clean up [I used to baby-sit a ton when I was a teenager; this was my favorite time because I felt so grown up]
8. rosy cheeks from walking in the cold
9. a cup of tea just before bed
10. cute boys who sing
11. being someone’s secret admirer [I'm a big fan of the anonymous gesture]