Monday, June 28, 2010

We're back and ready for round two


I emailed the boss first thing and told her I was heading to Van Nuys to pick Jamie up from Max and hopped in the shower. I decided to check the bank account first, and to check the bus route because I knew there had to be something closer than the Orange Line. Consequently, I got out of the house later than I had expected. No worries, still plenty of time. After all, I'm just picking up the car and driving to work, right? Right??

Well, I won't bore you with bus details but honestly, should warn a girl about a 30 minute layover zone. I arrived at Max's, who told me he changed the water pump and the #3 spark plug (the usual culprit) just to be safe. Awesome. And he knocked a bit more off the price because he felt bad for me. Even better. I handed him my debit card and...transaction failed?? But I have plenty in there. So, I called the bank and the lovely folks at the ATM Fraud Protection Department put a block on my card because surely no one would have two large transactions at the same auto repair shop within two days. The nice lady said, "Oh, we thought someone was trying to rip you off." "Nope, just a piece of crap car," I replied. They removed the block, I paid Max and was off. Well, first Max had to help me drive my car past the Porsche maze because the last thing I needed was to ding a Boxster, but then I was off.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a ....Fuck Me! Why is the check engine light on??? I'd gotten almost to the 170 on-ramp this time. Back to Max's we go, where he hooked her up to the ol' computer diagnostics and found that the #4 cylinder was misfiring this time. Oddly it didn't feel like it was misfiring, but who am I to question the all-knowing diagnostics computer. He fixed that one free of charge. I finally made it to work and then to a nice nearby car dealership. But that's a story for another day.

Oh, and somehow I lost my camera. I had it on Tuesday but it's gone now. I have an idea what happened and it's my fault, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

There aren't enough cocktails in the world

Hi there! Remember me? Wondering what's been happening since last Friday? Wondering if Jamie is still sitting on Beverly Blvd? If she got towed? Burglarized? Vandalized? Mysteriously stolen so I could collect the insurance money? Well, get yourself a beverage and a comfy seat, it's going to be a long story. But trust me, you'll want to read through for the punchline.

Let me first say that this week at work has been incredibly busy and stressful, so worrying about a car was not at all what I needed. In fact, for the first three days this week, I was so stressed about work stuff that I didn't really think about Jamie at all. But then, after all the meetings were done and I could breathe a little, I started worrying. What the hell am I going to do about this crappy little car that keeps breaking down every few weeks? Sure, I'll get her to Max, he'll change the spark plug, but it's just going to keep doing the same damn thing over and over. And AAA only allows me three tows a year. Well, fortunately, the universe felt a little sorry for me and granted me a reprieve in an offer of a loan to help with the down payment towards a new car. Yippee!! I started to scour the dealerships online looking for deals and helpful financing. I was, dare I say it, getting a little excited. [that should be accompanied by some foreboding-type music and heavy foreshadowing]

I took the two buses to Jamie today, called for a tow, and when Adonis arrived (his name, I swear) he promptly told me "You know your tire is flat. Do you want me to change it?" What? I guess all that sitting left Jamie with a flat tire. I told Adonis just to put her up on the tow truck. I'll have Max do something with it. (Adonis brought the rollback truck, fortunately) So, off we head to Max's where the first thing out of his mouth is "you know your tire is flat?" OMG, YES! The tire is flat. Can we move on?

It was the #2 cylinder this time. Small comfort that it wasn't the same one that was just fixed a month ago. Max told me (finally) that this will just keep happening until I rebuild the engine. I told him, "Look, I just want to get her running again so I can drive her straight to a dealership and trade her in on something else. I'm done with this car." Max then proceeded to lecture me (yelled at me, really) about going to a dealership looking desperate and how they're going to take advantage of me, etc, etc, etc. He advised I keep driving Jamie while shopping around for the best deal, or try to sell Jamie on Craigslist and then take that money to the dealer. I yelled back, "And what do I do when she blows another spark plug in two weeks. I can't keep doing this, Max!" It was quite a sight, our little spat. Back and forth we went about me being stupid and looking desperate. What can I say, I am desperate. And I didn't want to get into it with him about how my credit is the worst and I'll be lucky if anyone gives me a deal for this car and what I have to put down.

So, he changed the spark plug and put the spare tire on for me. He offered to loan me a tire from his stock of used parts but I'd have to bring it back to him when I get a new tire. Well, that's sweet, really, but that's just one more thing. I don't want to get a new tire. I don't have another $100 for that. No Thanks, I said. Max checked the oil and added more "on the house" but advised an oil change soon. Honestly, despite his warnings, I really just wanted to drive to the dealerships I narrowed down and say "what'll you give me?" I paid him and got in the car. Jamie felt a little funny to me. Not quite misfiring shaky, but not quite her usual idle. "She's fine" he said. "Are you sure? It doesn't feel right," I said. But assured that she's just fine, I backed out of his garage and drove off. [cue more eerie music]

I made it 12 blocks before a beeping noise drew my attention to the instrument panel and the Temperature gauge light, then to the temperature gauge to find Jamie running at 260 degrees!!!! I pulled over, popped the hood, and checked the coolant. Then I called Max. Okay first I screamed "FUCK" at the top of my lungs, then I called Max. He told me to drive it back to his place. "It's in the red!!!!" I cried. "She'll be okay. Just bring it back." Remembering a little technique Daren had to do when his old Neon's thermostat was off, I turned the heater on full blast, windows down, and drove as fast as I could back to Max. Jamie managed to stay out of the red but hovered nearby.
Yeah, so it's the water pump. Uh huh. I know. You're saying, "What the hell? What else could possibly go wrong? Why does the universe not want Laurie Ann to get a new car? And where are the hidden cameras because this shit is not funny anymore." Okay, that may be what I'm saying. You're just saying "Sweet Jesus, I'm glad that's not me."

Max said he'll fix it for $500, minus what I had just spent on the spark plug and tire change. Needless to say, this is cutting into my down payment money big time. He also offered me his Passat as a loaner until it's fixed, which is super nice of him, but given my luck, I didn't want to chance it. I asked for a ride to the Orange Line instead. Max did insist he'd pick me up tomorrow to come get the car, which he stayed late today to fix. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

When life gives you lemons, use them to garnish your cocktails

One day in April 2000 (or maybe 2001), I was on my way to the Dodgers Opening Day game with Barry, a guy from work. Barry had borrowed his girlfriend's 80-something Volkswagen Scirocco and driving down Sunset Blvd, just before Elysian Park Avenue, the clutch blew out. Barry managed to make a left turn and parked the car on Lilac Place, that little road just behind the Warehouse Shoe Store, for you Angelenos who know the area. "Balls!" I cried. "What are we going to do now?" "We're going to the game," Barry answered, looking at me as if I'd asked the stupidest question ever. So we trudged up the hill (no easy feat for this out-of-shape asthmatic) and when we got into the stadium, Barry bought me a beer. Then, we enjoyed the game, trudged back to the car, called the girlfriend and AAA and that was that. I would like to thank Barry for teaching me one simple lesson: Shit happens. Don't let it ruin a good time.

I don't always take that advice, but on Friday, when Jamie decided to be a bitch and blow a spark plug--AGAIN!--just before I was about to turn into the parking lot at The Grove, I heard Barry's voice. I got Jamie to drive up to Beverly Blvd, looked around at the parking signs and seeing no "towaway zone", left her there. Then I walked back to The Whisper Lounge at The Grove and had drinks with Slackmistress and Betheboy and an assortment of friends, old and new, for Will's birthday. Because I clearly wouldn't be driving, I had two chili-mango margaritas (like fruita in a glass). I know, I'm wild! Then, I calmly got the valet guys to call me a cab ("you're a cab") and came home.

Max wasn't in yesterday, and having no alternate options, I left her there. Today, I took the bus, which got detoured up to Melrose before it diverted back to Fairfax and Beverly, then walked to Beverly and Gardner to find Jamie safe and sound, with surprisingly only one ticket on her windshield. Since the side streets have street cleaning days, I decided she was safer on Beverly. I'll have to figure something out, though, because I'm sure she'll get towed sooner or later. Bonus: The Knockout Tacos truck was right behind her (at Pan Pacific Park) so I was able to get some delicious Rolled Carnitas which made all the walking and waiting for buses much more bearable.

Shit happens. But why does it have to happen so often?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Books you can't put down

I have that Trio song from the VW commercial stuck in my head today, which is funny because I associate that song with boredom and I certainly haven't been bored. But that's neither here nor there as far as today's post goes. Today's post involves reading, lots and lots of reading.

For years now, my sister and I have signed off our emails with "I love you like..." and then add something that we love, usually silly and expansive, but sometimes simple like her sign off today. "I love you like a warm cup of tea and a 'can't put it down' book." Don't you love a good book? Saturday, my head was pounding with another headache, so I stayed in the dark most of the day and watched a movie. Sunday, still feeling lazy from the day before, I stayed in bed...well, ON the bed, and read a book. All. Day. Long. What am I reading? White Noise by Don DeLillo. I'll be honest, I picked it up because of The Airborne Toxic Event connection. It's got problems. I find the dialog a bit ridiculous and pretentious at times, especially from the children, but damn if it didn't suck me in. I kept changing positions, trying to get comfortable, and ended up reading nearly the entire novel. I finally forced myself out into the living room and kitchen when the siren's call of avocados (mmm, guacamole) was too much.

What are you reading? What have you read lately that you couldn't put down? Lord knows I don't need more books, but I love to hear what others are reading so I know what to get next. Tell me what to read next! I'm almost done with this and Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter is on deck, but I can easily be distracted if you've got a good suggestion.

Friday, June 11, 2010

j'avais un terrible mal de tĂȘte

I don't do stress well. It is my nature as a Sagittarius to be optimistic and look on the bright side. While I can multi-task like crazy, I tend to fall apart when things get too chaotic, too out of my control. Lately, at work, things have been getting to the chaotic level. I feel like I'm standing still but everything is swirling around my head like a swarm.

It's the end of our fiscal year and the boss is swamped. Therefore, all the things she would normally take care of are being handed to me while she focuses on the big things. That's fine, but I also have all the tasks that would normally fall to me if she weren't swamped, along with picking up tasks that were previously the responsibility of the communications director that we no longer have. Oh, and the boss's calendar has been changing on a daily--almost hourly--basis, which is keeping me on my toes. So, when I opened my Inbox yesterday and found a flurry of missives with things like "check with Laurie to schedule a meeting" and "Laurie can take care of this" and "get together with Laurie. She will handle this while you're out," my stress meter went SPROING! It seemed like every email I opened was assigning me a new task, all of them priorities, but I still had a mountain of other things that were not getting done. I pouted. I groused. I closed my door and had a mini-meltdown. Then I got busy and started getting a bunch of things done. Later, I had a king-sized chocolate Drumstick, which helped immensely, and Jenna brought Beard Papa cream puffs to SnB, which brought me back to normal.

Today, the stupid June Gloom started giving me sinus issues early on. I settled in to complete more of yesterday's assignments but got bogged down by one big one. I am waiting on some crucial information from a co-worker who apparently does not share my sense of urgency even though this is HIS project which was foisted on me. I did a few other things while I waited for him to get back to me and then it hit me--a full-on migraine with all the bells and whistles (NO! Not bells and whistles!) The lights hurt my eyes. I felt like I was going to vomit. Waves of dizziness came and went. I lasted until about 3:30 before I finally had to give up. I came home, took some migraine medication (which I have to start carrying in my purse), and went to bed.

Then, my new neighbor decided to hang pictures or something in his living room, which is the wall of my bedroom. Balls! I ended up on the sofa, which is not nearly as comfy, but quieter. I feel much better now.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I'm going crazy over here

It's the end of our fiscal year at work. There are budgets to work out, things to inventory, meetings to schedule, legislation to lobby for, and hair to pull out. In other words, I'm going crazy. I apologize for leaving you high and dry.

Here's a small chuckle--Have I told you about my friend Criss? She's kind of awesome. In fact, she's the conductor on the awesome train. Now Criss and I have long since established that we are attracted to vastly different men. There is no risk of us fighting over the same guy. But tonight at trivia, in a bar where the male-to-female ratio was wildly in our favor, I pointed out a guy whom I found to be handsome and kind of in her spectrum of attractiveness. She vehemently disagreed and said, "Laurie! You've got all that real estate over there and you're picking out a mobile home?" Maybe you had to be there. I'm still cracking up. There was a boat load of handsomeness on display tonight, though. Mmmm. Oh, and our trivia team won first place again by an embarrassing margin.