Monday, June 24, 2013

Four confounding things

I went to Panera bread for a quick bite between jobs. The entire transaction at the cash register involved me answering a long series of questions. "How can I help you? Do you want bread? Apple? Chips? Which sandwich of the two? What kind of soup? Anything to drink? Do you have the Panera Bread club card? Cash or credit? To stay or to go? What is your name?" When I am feeling silly I fantasize about pretending to not speak English while ordering. Or pretending I'm deaf. I know that ultimately it isn't a big deal but Jesus, can I just have a fucking sandwich?? Why do you need my phone number and name?

I just answered a reference question that asked if I could find copies of the TWO Jodi Arias movies that recently aired. Like, yesterday, recently. Why the hell would anyone watch even one film of that (the only way I'd watch anything about that woman is if it involved badly acted reenactments...I love those) much less TWO? This woman was chewing moistily the ENTIRE phone conversation. If you desire a reenactment of THAT, simply get a friend or a lover to pack their mouths with a sloppy joe and stand right next to your ear and chew for about five minutes after asking you to look up the DVD release dates of several DVDs. This woman also wanted "that movie with that guy who died from the Sopranos, Jose Gonzalez." Yeah, no. No we don't have that movie.

How is Mad Men so good? Seriously. Six seasons in and the show remains so good and really, how many shows have managed that? Most television shows falter around season 3 or so and overstay their welcome. I think maybe the shortened seasons of the show, which has only 13 episodes, really helps. My attachment to these characters and this story is unsettling. I feel like I want to write a thesis about it. I hope some graduate student somewhere in the future writes one. Matthew Weiner is someone I'd put on my guest list for ideal dinner party.

And finally, in a particularly irrational turn of events, I find myself, at 6:45pm, still annoyed at something that happened this morning. My new shampoo bottle required me to exit the shower, run to my kitchen on the other side of my apartment, get a pair of scissors to pry open the PLASTIC WRAP that enveloped the PLASTIC BOTTLE in order to wash my hair (which I'm not even sure why I bothered since the air has turned into a hot bowl of soup practically the SECOND it became summer officially, rendering my hair sideshow Bob-ish). Why so much plastic? Why does a plastic bottle need to be wrapped in plastic and if it is, why is anything other than my own hands, grasping awkwardly in the wee, half awake hours of the morning, required in order to open it?

I stumble through life confoundedly.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


In the pantheon of adult maladies, both physical and mental, the one that I am most recently afflicted with and the one which is, arguably, the least unpleasant one to have past the age of 13 is conjunctivitis. Yes, I got the old stink pink eye. I know not from whence it came; could've been on the money at the theater where I volunteer, could've been a germ inside a library book, could've been living on the fur of my cats. Whatever the source, I found myself waking up last Sunday morning with a convincing case of "stabby eye". That is to say, it felt as though, as I slept a very deep sleep, my left eye had stolen my credit card, went online and paid for express shipping of spiked snow chains, wrapped itself, cocoon style in the chains and spent the wee hours of the morning grinding, turning itself over and over in my head until I awoke, unable to fully open my lids and moaning one really long curse word. You are old enough to know which.

But that was the extent of whatever unpleasantness comes as part of the prepackaged conjunctivitis deal. I knew immediately what I had and prepared myself accordingly. And by "prepared myself" I really just mean I complained and tried to form a force field around my body when having Father's Day brunch with my family. Oh and also I had a permanent squint, making me look like I was suspicious of everything I heard. Either that or that I was preparing to say something really bitchy. Other than those minor discomforts, pink eye requires you to drop small amounts of liquid into your eyes, four times a day and to stay as far away as possible from other humans. I could lie and say that I mourn the loss of two productive days of work but I'm not a liar. Or at least not a liar about something dumb like that. I found the two unexpected days off from work, bereft of the freedom to go out and DO anything to be a welcome change from my normal restlessness. Physically I felt fine (apart from one oozing eye), making sleeping in, drinking coffee over a few novels and saving gas money really quite pleasant. I'm contemplating buying a bumper sticker that says "I Brake for Pink Eye".

Other than that, the past week has been pretty uneventful. I had a nice time during Father's Day. I finished a couple of really good books.I reupped my yoga studio classes and have been doing that on a fairly regular basis when I can. I still cannot manage a dang headstand, though I imagine that has more to do with fear than any lack of ability. One lesson I learn after most yoga classes is how much I let fear get in the way of things I want to do. I suppose we all do that to an extent but it is never as obvious to me as when I'm kicking my legs up, one at a time and they come right back down again, gravity pulling them back where they belong. Well, gravity and my scaredy cat brain.

Last night, in preparation for a viewing of Before Midnight tomorrow afternoon, I finally opened the seal on my copies of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I have seen these before, though not until I was well into my 20s (a fact which makes me sad) but I had not yet opened the copies I bought off amazon about two years ago when I did some midnight depression shopping. These movies do something to me. They make me so happy and optimistic and so sad and bitter all at the same time. That this is my reaction to two romantic films does not surprise me since that is exactly the reaction I have to romantic love in reality. Every time I see these I start with a smile which eventually morphs into tears. Strangely enough, I have only ever happened to watch these films when I've crossed over the line from being single to being Single. Which is not as bad as being SINGLE (not that there's anything wrong with being SINGLE if that's what you want to be). But something about it being the Friday night of the first day of summer, something about watching two people crash into each other so smoothly and fall in love so seamlessly, something about I don't really know what made these hurt.

I suspect it did not help matters when I checked my email later and saw a message from the volunteer coordinator at the theater where I occasionally help out. I am scheduled to help out tonight. The email had a subject line that read: THIS SATURDAY NIGHT. In the body of the message it read, in all caps of course:


Naturally she just meant that the other volunteer had cancelled but, like I said, I was feeling SINGLE. These bouts are usually few and far between so I'm already back to enjoying being single. Nothing more to see here.

Anyway, I'm struggling to find a point to this blog post. I can't seem to and you are I am just going to have to deal with that.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shaking and Lying: The Accident Part 2

And so it became official: I had to buy a new car. Poindexter had been a used car, bought for practically a song. You know the song, though. It is called "I had  no money to begin with so I had to borrow money anyway to buy a used car." It was a hit in 2008. My dealings with car salesmen were minimal and at the time I bought him, I had my boyfriend come car shopping with me. He didn't know anything about cars either but for all my feminism, I still feel incredibly intimidated at mechanics, car showrooms, even car washes. Maybe it isn't so much the overload of men that scares me but rather the cars themselves. All that grease. All those mini computer systems. I should probably learn how cars work to rid myself of this. Since I cannot, try as I might, conjure any interest whatsoever in cars,what will more likely happen is that I will continue to bring a representative of the male gender with me to any and all car related things to ask questions and then summarize for my half assed listening later.

The night before car shopping I asked Rob, a friend of mine and car aficionado which hybrids he would recommend. Ideally I had wanted an electric car because I loathe spending so much money on gas and frankly, I was still bitter at having to rent that behemoth SUV for a week and change. Also, the advertising for those electric cars is pretty incredible and effective because I seemed to know the names for all the prominent models on the market already which is odd since, as I've stated before, it is impossible for me to care any less about cars. However, there is a dearth of charging stations where I live and in fact I drive about 40 miles a day to and from my multiple jobs so a car that needs a charge every 86 miles, which is average right now, wasn't going to work out. Electric car technology will no doubt improve in the next five years or so. In 2018, my friends.

Anyway, Rob came up with a list of suggestions and even suggested some non-hybrid models and one in particular that I had never heard of before: the Fiat. When he pulled it up on the computer though, I thought it was the cutest car I had ever seen. It also seemed affordable, so I added it to my list to investigate the next day.

My stepdad and mom came with me for support because I am twelve and the first car lot we hit was Ford. I'm not going to put the particular Ford dealership on blast here in this blog that no one from the automotive industry even reads but I will yelp the crap out of them. Keep in mind that this was the first dealership we visited in the day. That isn't a vital fact but it may have contributed to the sense of confusion that dripped from the entire interaction.

We walked on to the lot and immediately were approached by some guy who seemed to have just been standing there looking up at the sky aimlessly. He had a very shaky voice, like Jack Nicholson...'s impersonator in a dinner theater production of "Easy Rider". I don't remember his name at all but let's just call him Rex. I immediately asked for the exact model that I wanted to see and test drive. In fact the words "This is the exact model I want to see and test drive" may have escaped my lips. He immediately seemed reluctant, saying things like "Well, you know, um, in two weeks, we are getting the 2014's in and I don't know if I, uh, have any uh, of those but hold on let me see."

Turns out they had exactly one of them on the lot in front of the dealership, parked in the center of all their other cars, kind of on display. In other words, it was incredibly hard to miss it. It was also incidentally located in such a spot that one had to step down a significant height and through a hedge in order to get to it. (Note to Ford: Don't hide your cars behind hedges.) I happened to be wearing a dress on that hot ass day, making hiking through a row of hedges improbable and time consuming. Rex had no compunctions about making me do this until I said "Yeah, I'm not climbing through that. Where is the path?" Strike one, Rex. Strike one.

Next he opens the car door for me and tells me to start it. Dead. The battery, a major component of a hybrid car, is dead. Rex said, without the slightest hint of enthusiasm whatsoever "I suppose I should go get something to jumpstart this because you probably want to see how it works. Right?" Uh, I guess so, Rex. He then proceeded to walk away but first made sure to point to a used condom that was on the lot right in front of the car. "Someone had a good time at Ford last night."--Rex the Shaky

So he comes out about five minutes later with the oldest living man. This man was hunched over and carrying the little box that would charge the battery long enough for me to "see how it works". I sat inside the car and waited. And waited. Finally Rex says "start it!" I do, the lights go on inside the car for about 45 seconds. Rex says something along the lines of "we should go inside and get the paperwork started." Movin too fast, Rex. Too fast.

What happened next was all in a blur because honestly, thinking about it now, I cannot remember how I ended up sitting inside the dead car one moment, eyeing the used condom not two feet away with squinted eyes and complete annoyance at the non stop time waste I was being subjected to and then sitting at Rex's desk waiting for him to estimate my payments for a Ford Focus. Sincerely, I don't recall how one thing led to another. It makes me feel sympathy for people who say things like that all the time ..."one thing led to another." But there I was, waiting for Rex to type using only one index finger in order to come up with an estimate for a car I neither asked for nor liked. I suppose that the shaky Rex had some strangely brewed mojo all along and, with little to no effort, was able to place me in his cross hairs. To his credit, he quoted me a very low monthly payment price and when I said "Ok, I'll think about it" he must have known I wouldn't because he leapt from his chair sayng "I'll be right back with my boss!" Apparently, this is what car salesmen do: they talk up the car, they work up some numbers, they chat you up. Then, right when you are about to leave, they go get their supervisor to come over and sweeten the pot for you. This should only happen after an extended chat with your salesman and not, for example, in a haze of what the hell is going on surrounding the price of car you neither want nor like. When he stepped away I started speaking to my mother in Spanish about how deeply I did not want that car or to be there at all. I don't know why we stayed, he was gone awhile.

When he finally returned he seemed like he was in a hurry to beat his boss to the desk. When he approached he said, in a hurried whisper, "Tell him you took it for a test drive." Again, what the fuck, Rex? The confounding nature of this command is equaled only by the fact that I DID IT. I lied for him. I told the boss, when he asked "How was the ride?" that it was fine and it drove well. It was like I was on auto pilot. And I suppose I figured that, since I would not in any way be purchasing this or any car from Rex, that I may as well not get him in trouble for being a terrible person. Anyway, the boss was a better salesman in 25 seconds than Rex was in an hour since he picked up on every cue that I had no desire to be there and henceforth, he released me from the bonds of that confusing dealership. On our way out, we passed Rex, well, the back of him anyway. Yes, ladies and gents, Rex stood at the exit with his back to us. My mother said "Oh thanks for your help." and Rex simply nodded. Thus ended the most bizarre interaction with a salesperson I've ever had. (Or so I thought.)

The next stop was Fiat. Here is what happened there: the salesman was nice. He was straightforward. He asked what I wanted to see and spend and showed me and quoted me a price that worked. I test drove the car, fell in love and signed a bunch of documents and three days later, I got my new Fiat. She is called Sweet Pea Marie. Here is a photo of she and I on the day I bought her:

Isn't she cute?

Although I laugh to myself about my adventures at Ford, what with all the shaking and lying, I prefer my Fiat story. Mostly because it ends with me driving off into the sunset feeling like this:

This is how buying something should make you feel.

All that car shopping happened on Saturday. On Monday morning at around 9am, I got a phone call from Rex. We had the following conversation:

Rex: So my boss let me go after you left. He found out you didn't test drive the car.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
Rex: Yeah, he told me to not bother coming in. But I came in anyway to call you and find out if you still want the car.
Me (in my head): ??????????????????????????????????
Me (out loud): I didn't want the car.
Rex: Ok, take care.

Tell me truly, is this a sales tactic or did I cross paths with the worst salesman on earth?

You can offer some theories, I have a few of my own. But mayhaps this is one of those mysteries that will never be solved, right alongside why there was a used condom in a car dealership lot.

Monday, June 10, 2013

At Least No One Got Hurt: The Accident Part One

You put my brain in over load. I can't change gears, I cannot see the road.
--Stupid Car, Radiohead

According to some no name, unverified and likely sham website, about 6 million car accidents happen on American roads every year. It seems like it could be true. considering how many cars are on the road coupled with all the things that could happen in order to cause a car accident I'm a bit surprised that it isn't more. Seeing as this site is also unverified and the fact that I'm lately falling out of love with chosen profession of librarianship, let's bump that number up to 6.5 million, just because we can. Yeah so yesterday, I was involved in one of the 6.5 million car accidents this year. No one got hurt. Also, I feel the need to repeatedly acknowledge that fact since every conversation I have had since this incident has been punctuated with that phrase. I feel two things about that: 1) I am grateful no one got hurt, I truly am and I feel a compulsion to state it over and over again, lest I anger the Fates and 2) It still fucking sucks to get in even minor accidents, despite that fact that no one is hurt.

This has been my #1 favorite horrible book cover since I started paying attention to book covers. 

It had to happen at some point. I was late getting into the game of driving. I didn't get my license until I was 28 years old making this accident inevitable. Let's make up something else; we'll call it the 9 year itch wherein the probability of you having a car accident increases after every 9 years has past. It is fun to make things up. Especially when no one gets hurt in the accident.

Basically a week ago today, it was pissing rain because apparently that is New York's weather modus operandus for the month of June. I wish I could pinpoint a reason why I broke so late when the van in front of me slowed down in order to make a right turn: I was sifting through my iPod, I was on the phone, I was fiddling with the air conditioner but I cannot say any of those untruths. I simply hit the brakes too late and I rearended his driver side bumper. In what can only be called a gift from the fates (see how I give you mad props in my blog, the Fates? be nice to me!), the damage was minimal (so I thought), neither of us was hurt (though you would not have been able to tell what with the way I was trembling) and the guy was super nice (he was more peeved about dropping his sunglasses when he got out of his van than he was about the fact that I dented his fender.) Also nice was the police officer that came to make the accident report. Any one of those variables could have been quite different and had they been, my shaking would have become convulsing. Also, no one was hurt in the accident.

Since I was able to drive the rest of the way to work with the damage that was done, I suppose I just imagined that the car could be repaired; my faith in my stalwart little Elantra remained steadfast. After a very long day, including a stop at a rental car palace that had only one very large SUV for me to drive, I slept peacefully in the knowledge that there are still nice people in the world and that, as accidents go, my very first one was minor and everything could be fixed. Also, no one was hurt in the accident. It was clearly out of the Fisher Price edition of "My Very First Fender Bender!"

Art work by Dana Jean M.

And despite the fact that I did not carry insurance for a rental car, despite the fact that my mother had the previous week gotten into an accident herself, rendering no cars for me to borrow, despite the fact that the absolute very last thing I needed at this time and place in my life was one more expense, I had some optimism that the minor problems would be rectified and I and my little Poindexter (yes, that was his name lo these past five years) would ride off into the sunset with his old familiar squeaky brakes and my old familiar singalongs to hastily composed playlists. And no one will have been hurt in the accident.

The car I had been given to rent was a massive SUV, so large that it had a rear camera that would play the movie of backing up everytime the car was put into reverse. It was a car that, according to my very scientific calculations, gets about 1/8 miles to the gallon, highway, and that was taller than me by about a foot. I hated the rental car. It also had a vague scent of smoke and so help me god if the rental place tries to pin that on me, I'm going to use the reverse camera to back up into their storefront. (No, not really but something about driving a large SUV does strange, macho things to my brain.) Also, I am still annoyed that the rental agent said things like "100 percent" when it wasn't really germane to the conversation. For example:
Rental Agent: So what do you do for a living?
Me: I'm a librarian
RA: That sounds fun.
Me: It has its moments.
RA: 100 percent.

See? Annoying right? (The irony is that an acceptable response to that is actually "100 percent!")

Though my insurance did not cover the cost of the rental I did receive a deep discount. And by "deep discount" I mean, "I am still spending hundreds of dollars for the privilege of driving a car I hate in addition to filling up a gas tank that costs me $60 each time." But when I put these things into perspective, at least no one was hurt in the accident. Still, annoying. One might even say 100 percent annoying.

So a few days go by and I await the insurance adjustor's call coming through like a nice hot cup of camomile tea, its reassuring comfort washing over me, leaving the warm knowledge that even though the front part of Poindexter was a bit smashed, he would be ok and at least no one got hurt. And then I waited another day and another one and another one, all the while I imagined that rental agent saying "100 percent" over and over again as she pressed the buttons on a cash register. I don't know why. I finally called my insurance company who put me in touch with my adjustor who said he would call and didn't. It was like my last date. Only without the excellent beard.

Finally on the fourth day he called. He said that the car had been deemed a "total loss" and that I would get a check for the value of the car. I suppose I didn't really understand it right away because when I called my mother shortly after hanging up and she asked "when do you want to go car shopping?" I was very confused. Why would I need to go car shopping? Yeah, I'm kind of dumb. But HEY at least no one was hurt in the accident!!

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that what started out as a very minor accident (in which no one got hurt) did enough damage to Poindexter to render him useless. Whatever his sentimental charms, he just wasn't worth much in the end. I was thinking of putting that on his gravestone. And then I quickly remembered that "he" was a car and that maybe I need to go out more often. Last Friday I had to make my way to the auto shop to clear out my things. Two observations about that: 1) It was depressing. I get attached to things sometimes and 2) I had a lot of fucking shit in that car that could have been thrown out in 2008. At least three times I said out loud, to the amusement of the mechanic helping me, "I totally forgot about this." This was often a mix tap of Morrissey songs or a coupon for a free hot dog at Nathan's. Also, I had at least five maxi pads in the glove compartment. Maybe I thought someday I'd end up living out of that car? I don't know. I don't care. It is all so terribly, unexpectedly smushed in moot now. RIP Poindexter. You were too good for this world.

Coming up: At Least No One Got Hurt 2: The Car Shop