Wednesday, June 30, 2010

home sweet home

Sometimes my house seems no more than a place to do laundry and park the new car. What used to feel like a cozy nest and respite from the big bad world turned in to a chore.

Grass to mow, water heater to buy, window air-conditioners to haul upstairs, taxes to pay, floors to clean, insurance to pay, leaky faucets to fix, trash to take to the curb, mortgage to pay, recycling to sort, blah, blah, blah….

I’m working on re-connecting with my home – I should enjoy it – it’s costing me enough. – See, that’s the attitude is not helping matters any.

Anyway, I’m making sure that I have dinner at home at least once a week. And eat real food, not a frozen dinner or Weight Watchers ice cream or just popcorn.

I got a cool old fridge last week – with great help from best friend, Ann Herr Mitchell and her family and Sam Herr’s truck, that story deserves it’s own blog post – anyway, I’ve vowed to keep it stocked with something more than diet Pepsi and opened cans of cat food.

I’m enjoying my meal times on the front porch, reading or writing or playing Scrabble on facebook or watching movies. Downtime. And a healthy meal. Although I learned tonight that Nip/Tuck might not be the best choice for dinner viewing.
Who knows, it may lead to blogging again….stay tuned…

Monday, June 28, 2010


I have a new car – a Chevrolet HHR. It might be the least sexy vehicle on the market, but I’m in love. As I was showing off my key fob with the electric lock and unlock-y buttons a co-worker welcomed me to the 1990s.

As much as I loved driving the truck, I was ready for a vehicle that I could take passengers and could stow things under cover. And not worrying if the tailgate was going to fall off was a big bonus.

I had a meltdown in May. I don’t know whether it was celebrating my birthday or the twelve days in a row of rain, but I decided to start thinking about a new car.

I remember the exact minute that I emotionally broke-up with the truck. It was the Monday after my birthday. I was lugging my thrift-store bowling ball its thrift-store bowling bag through the bowling alley parking lot. As I was heaving the ball into the back of the truck, I realized it had rained and there was a puddle in the bed of the truck but it was too late, momentum and stupid gravity had their way and I splashed MYSELF when the ball dropped on to the bed of the truck.

I burst into tears.

And wondered how in the Hell I’d gotten to be 49 years-old and driving a crappy truck and crying in a bowling alley parking lot across town with my fellow bowling league-rs giving me a wide berth. I’m the one that always bowls in a dress, not to mention rental shoes and thrift-store accessories. I don’t blame them for avoiding me. Heck, I was wishing I didn’t have to be around me.

I started thinking about a new vehicle. Thinking was the key word – I had to wrap my head around the idea of a new ride. As quick as I move in day-to-day life, I’m pretty pokey in making bigger decisions. I tend to keep jobs, boyfriends, winter coats and vehicles years past the expiration date.

I’m not so good at change.

I’ve had my eye on the HHR ever since it came out. I'd sat in one the last three years at the big Chevrolet display at the State Fair.  It looks like squished SUV or a station wagon on steroids. A cross between a gangster car and a milk truck - ironically it has storage for a machine gun and six quarts of milk. Which, incidentally is more storage than I have in my house.

On Tuesday I looked online and “my dealership” – I buy all of my cars there – one a decade! I’m surprised my name isn’t on a plaque in the lobby.

Anyway, they an HHR listed online, the right color, standard transmission and the sticker price was just under $20,000.

I submitted a loan application online. I’d rather be rejected via e-mail than in person. Of course they called to see if I had anything in mind. I tipped my hand by sending the link to the car I was looking at. The nice woman on the phone asked me if I wanted to come in that night. No way! I needed to process the idea.

I floated it past Dad and the other ‘union break’ guys on Wednesday. They didn’t believe that there was a vehicle available for under $20,000. And then they went back to eating doughnuts.

The dealership called again. Apparently they like to move faster than I do. I told them that I’d come in Thursday after work. Maybe.

I asked Dad to meet me there. I was freaked-out and sweaty and cranky, but calmed down once I walked in the door. I wonder what they pipe through the air in the dealership? I found Dad sitting next to a red convertible. He looked at right at home.

We were paired with a woman salesman (I know, you can’t be a woman and a salesman, but I’m one of those equal rights chicks that doesn’t get wigged-out by terms like that. I do want to poke eyes out when I see stuff like saleswomyn or whatever crap people do to avoid using the word ‘man’ Anyway, I’ve digressed – probably more than I ever have). Dad asked in a not-so-subtle whisper how much I thought she knew about cars. Dad thought, and I’ll admit, I did too, that they assigned a woman to me since I was one too.

As it turned out, she knew a lot and had been there for almost a dozen years. I like that she didn’t try to upgrade me or talk me into a fancier car. She grabbed the keys and off we went.

I drove while she and Dad discussed XM radio and she found the Broadway Tunes and the Catholic channels, the only two stations Dad listens too. I'd hazard a guess that he's the only person in that demographic. I had to interrupt them a couple of times to ask questions.

The HHR has about a million more features than the S-10. Power locks and windows and you can adjust the mirrors remotely. Back window wipers – intermittent, even! Airbags, cup holders and a display that shows miles per hour, average speed, miles per gallon and air pressure in each of the tires.

It has XM radio and a jack to plug in my iPod. If I had an iPod. It also has OnStar and hands free calling.

I was also pleased that it was a FlexFuel vehicle - meaning that it can run on E85. Political arguments aside, this farm girl still can't believe that anything can be powered by corn! I giggle when I fill the car with fuel!

And a backseat and four doors.

I was smitten.

But not ready to buy. Or so I thought. Next thing I knew I was discussing down payments, interest rates and the trade-in value of the truck. Akkk!

When we heard what they’d offer me for the truck I offered it to a friend via text. Unbeknownst to me, Dad was selling the truck via cell phone. Yep we both sold Old Blue.

Of course they wanted me to leave with the HHR and had an answer to all of my concerns: I needed to transfer money from savings to checking for the down payment. No worries, I could use a computer there to do it electronically. I don’t have my checkbook. Don’t you have an extra check tucked in your wallet? I needed to get the code number for Dad’s GM discount. Here’s the phone number and paper and pencil. I’m not sure I’m ready. Here, have a diet Pepsi and some popcorn and take a deep breath.
Boy, did they have my number!

And it really is a good deal between Dad’s discount and the GM points I’d built up on my GM card it was just over $13,000.

As I was signing the loan paperwork the loan dude asked if I needed help getting a vehicle home. He offered to follow me home and bring me back to the dealership to pick up the HHR. I thought he was just being nice and customer service-y.

Then he asked if I wanted to go for a drink when I came back to get the new car. I joked that I probably shouldn’t drive the first miles with a beer under my belt. Then it occurred to me that he might be asking me out.

Of course, I got all blushy and weird.

He knew my age and financial situation. Heck, that’s half the battle. As we chatted I figured out that he was age appropriate and single and social. Woo hoo. He started telling me more about himself. Two kids, one grandchild (yes, that’s what age-appropriate looks like now). Ten years in the military after high school. So far so good.

He was living with his Mom. Temporarily, of course. Teeny red flag, but I ignored it.

Then he bragged about how he liked everything neat and orderly. Didn’t even like foil on things in the fridge, he liked to be able to see everything when he opened the door.


If you’ve ever met me, you know that I build a nest wherever I go. I like to think of it as charming, but I’m not the neat and orderly type. Everything might have its place; I just don’t always feel the need to get it there.

I might not have met Prince Charming, but I do love my new carriage.

[Loan guy did come to the Red Key to visit that next Saturday, but the initial spark had faded. Or he took one look at my waitressing station]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

good bye blue

I spent Friday night cleaning out my truck.
The Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck I bought new almost nine years ago.

I know that cars and houses and shoes don’t have souls, but I do think they have personality – or at least affect my mood.

I never bonded with the truck. Partly because I didn’t like the color. Blue. How shallow is that? Light blue would have been okay. Metallic dark blue, not so much. When I got the truck I hesitated about the color but talked myself into it. I was more concerned with the features, or rather, lack of. I wanted a standard transmission, no power locks or windows. No frills. To choose another color would have added another $1500 to the purchase price and I didn’t think I cared that much.

I bought the truck after a failed experiment of driving a big old truck. I lasted about a year with the 1980-something Chevrolet 1500. I looked like a badass in it, but it was too damn big for the around town driving I was doing. I remember being more relieved to be rid of the big truck than excited about the new one.

The S-10 also had some unpleasant boy karma around it. I had a huge fight with A. centered around the new truck. I’d been to the license branch that morning to get the registration transferred but had not put the license plate on the truck yet. A. asked if he could borrow the truck for a gig. I was happy to loan it to him and told him I’d run home for the plate. It turned in to a big screaming match, for no apparent reason. I realized later that it was the beginning of the end of our relationship. Picking fights over nothing.

Anyway, it was not a great start for the truck. The first dent came when a date offered to walk me to my truck. For my safety. Ha! There was a fight in the parking lot by my truck. I asked the guys to move and they stopped, surprised -- I think being a woman didn’t hurt. Then the jackass I was with got involved and someone got slammed into the side of the truck. First dent. And the end of that relationship.

I drove the truck to Nashville twice. To see two different boys. I met up with A. one time, long after the breakup. I stopped for fuel and somehow almost knocked myself out with my own door. A sign maybe? I spent the whole trip with a splitting headache and a lovely oozy cut on my forehead. The next trip to Music City was fun, but no less awkward.

Then I got caught up in the chain-link fence next to my driveway on a snowy day. A hailstorm caused enough damage that the cost to repair it paid off the truck.

There was something psychologically comforting about having the truck paid for. At that point I didn’t care what it looked like, just that it worked. I’d make it through the winter with it. One winter turned into five and I was still driving it. Then I bought the house and not having a truck payment was critical. It didn’t make me resent it any less.

Even though I drove the truck less than 70,000 miles, it got a good workout, especially during the coffeehouse years. And I helped friends move and hauled water heaters and appliances and recycling.

Cleaning out the truck was cathartic. Going through all of the ticket stubs and papers and party favors that I cared enough to save, but not enough to take in the house was good for me. Finding directions in the glove box reminded me of fun parties. I laughed at my ‘emergency kit’ stashed behind the seat– my idea of emergency supplies includes Band-Aids, $40 and coins, tape measure, socks, sunscreen, earplugs and sunglasses. All of which have come in handy, I might add.

I found dozens of gift certificates that I’d stashed in the console. Starbucks, anyone? Who knew that I had three umbrellas? I also found sixty dollars in cash between the seats. I did not find my keys or Jimmy Hoffa. Or an old boyfriend, for that matter.

I’m ready for a new chapter – bring it on!