Monday, March 20, 2006

Starpower asks her wise readers for guidance

My days with Blaine (shiny black Mercedes) may be prematurely over. My insurance company called today to let me know the expected (though sad) news that Nancy is, in fact, totaled. And they'll give me a check for her worth, minus the five hundred dollar deductible. Turns out, her worth isn't all that high.

Clearly, my insurance company doesn't measure in love.

What's worse, they said that once an agreement is reached (as in you nod when they tell you it's totaled), that they only cover the rental car for five more days. As in, the check for your totaled car is not cut, signed, sent, and in your The countdown of Operation Screw You We're Taking Blaine Back is underway once they hang up the phone. Despite your protestations that five days really isn't enough time to make the second biggest purchase of your life. Too bad.

Well, I'm not really going to go for that. It's ridiculously unfair and just plain impossible to get a car in that time. Only slightly less impossible is living in Los Angeles without a car at all.

And something tells me that the new car I'll get won't be a Mercedes. It's difficult to convey how sad that is. I've only been with Blaine for four days, but our love is deep, real. How I hate to let him go.

So, my friends, I could use some advice. I called the insurance company back and told them that I just need more time with the car and I am not sure I'll just sign off on the Nancy's y totaled, junk her nonsense. I also have legal insurance and know that I can get some legal counsel if need be.

So, do I accept that Nancy's totaled and try to replace her with the five grand from my insurance company? True, that's a super nice downpayment, but I didn't have a car payment previously and cannot necessarily afford one now. Payments would be regular and the car would be reliable.

Do I accept Nancy's totaled (truthfully, I might not have much choice about this) and use the five grand for a shitty used car? There may not be a regular payment but there may be intermittent repair costs of varying amounts.

Do I try to go for some lease to own option?

Do I need to get lawyers involved to pressure my insurance company to cover Blaine's rental for longer--or get them to get Dingbat to cover it?

I'm at a loss, folks. PLEASE leave comments with any ideas you've got.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

My silver lining is shiny black with leather interior

Yesterday qualifies as one the top ten lamest days in my life ever. I woke up feeling good and was going to go to the beach and do tai chi before work. I got dressed, noticed the time, and realized that I had two choices:

1. Go to the beach and do tai chi anyway, timeliness be damned

2. Go to work on time so I can leave on time, which would allow me to do tai chi in the daylight that will surely remain when I get back home

Being super responsible, I chose the latter option. I set off for work in my trusty car, Nancy. A short distance from my house, I noticed the driver behind me. Mid-thirties or so, blond hair, and laughing with a kid in the front seat (illegal in this state) next to her. There was a teeny little dog perched on the top of the back seat and an even littler bobble-head dog stuck to the front dash. But the woman was the one who had my attention the most, something about her just stuck to me. She seemed nice and it was apparent she was having fun hanging out with her kid, all leaning down and getting in her daughter's face playfully. But she also had a sort of chaos about her, an all-over-the-place-ness that made me a little uneasy. The thought: She seems fun and all, but there's no way that woman pays her bills on time popped into my head. I don't often pick apart my fellow motorists, but I just kept watching in my rear view mirror and wondering about her. As my massage therapy pals would say, I was very tuned in to her energy. And I'm glad I was so tuned in to her; it made me way less surprised when she plowed into the back of me less than three minutes later.

About six weeks ago, I was rear-ended. It was no big deal. The guy got out and apologized--in a smarmy, not-very-sorry sort of way, but he apologized--and no real damage was done. We drove off and he almost cut me off making an illegal pass on the left. I was (highly) annoyed but continued on my way.

Yesterday's rear-ending was way different. I felt my car and my body pushed forward and saw the left lens of my glasses shatter. When the movement stopped, I checked my glasses. They were fine, not shattered. My windshield wasn't either. Good. Weird that I thought it happened, but good that it didn't.

I get out and approach Dingbat's car. She's busy comforting her screaming child. I stand off for a minute, hear honking and someone calling my name. I look across the intersection and my roommate is there, yelling that she saw the whole thing. Again: weird, but good. Very good. I wave her over and then notice an SUV stopped in front of me, the driver outside of it looking at me. I had no idea I'd been pushed into the car in front of me and went over to her, apologizing and pointing to the car behind me to establish that she knew it was clearly not my fault. She did and was super cool about it. She got my name and number and took off to get her kid to a field trip.

On my way back to Dingbat's f'ed up car, I notice Nancy. Sweet, sweet Nancy is f'ed up, too. Damage to the front and rear: bent-in hood, torn grill, torn license plate, damaged front bumper, rear bumper hanging on by a thread. Not really drivable. Not without losing a bumper, anyway.

I get to Dingbat's car and ask for her information. She shoos me away, saying she's on the phone. 'Are you serious?!' I was PISSED.
'I'm calling the police.' (lie.)

Much of our communication goes like this. I show bald hatred of her, she smiles and tells me she's inconvenienced too and that, not to worry, because she's honest. (Great, now I know she's a liar, for sure.) I was shocked when she gave me a policy number from a reputable insurance company--or that she had insurance at all.

As luck would have it, a police officer happened to be driving by (was not called) and stopped to help out, which he did. Dingbat gave me all her information and I gave her mine and drove off asap. How she drove with her engine smashed up against her windshield, leaving behind leaked radiator fluid on the road, is beyond me. Why she did it with her kid and dog in the car with her is something I am going to go ahead and judge, judge, judge her for. That's right and when I am through judging her, I just might turn around and judge some more. Why? I kinda hate her. Why? Let me tell you about the rest of the day...

So, she leaves the scene, leaving only my witness-roommate, the friendly officer, my wrecked car, and me. Roommate has to go to work, takes off. Officer calls a tow truck for me, I call work and my car insurance company. They tell me about autobody shops they partner with. The tow truck arrives. My roommate calls back, her meeting was postponed and she comes back to give me a ride from the body shop. (It is all more tedious, complicated, and time-comsuming than this but the story's already delving into and/or swimming in boring as it is...)

The body shop seems super competent and understanding. During the assessment, I point out to them that my car was hit so hard that the back seats were thrown forward, exposing the contents of the trunk. The assessor nodded. I told him I was showing him that, really, just to be dramatic. He laughed. Then I told my roommate that my neck and hands, that had vaguely hurt earlier, were really beginning to hurt. The assessor heard this and cut in saying not to fall asleep, just in case of concussion. That kind of drama--the kind not used for comedic effect--is really just not as fun.

Roommate drives me home, heads off to work. I thank her profusely, go inside and--with the adrenaline now gone--the pain, woosiness and nausea set in. My brain felt rattled, my head was literally and figuratively spinning and my thinking was generally slow. My folks convinced me that a doctor visit should happen. So much for working from home the rest of the day.

Even if I had a car, no one could have made me drive it. I took a cab to an urgent care center. While being woozy in the waiting room, I got a phone call. I didn't recognize the number and let the VM get it. I checked it: Dingbat.

'He-e-ey, this is Dingbat, the woman who (chuckle) bumped into you this morning. A fun way to make friends. (chuckle) Anyway, I was calling to see if we could settle this without involving our insurance companies...maybe I can just give you cash...this is best for both of us...for me, anyway...'

This message. Sitting in urgent care, woozy, unable to work, I Love Lucy too loud in the background, millions of other people ahead of me to be seen. This f'in message from that f'in woman. Hatred, I tell you.

But then I was too tired. I was at the urgent care center for eight hours, waiting in one place or another for roughly six of them. And then they sent me by ambulance to an ER for an abnormally low heart rate--but not before getting x-rays, and EKG, the heart monitoring, blood-taking, and, naturally a CAT scan of my brain (yipes). Aside from whiplash and the low heart rate, all was fine. Still they thought it best to send me to an ER to wait in a bed for four more hours--only there I was in a room with three beds and the woman in the bed next to mine was roughly 1,009 years old, extremely disoriented, scared, and screaming every five minutes at the hospital staff, ripping out her IVs, only to yell at staff again as they put it back in, and demanding repeatedly to be taken back to the hospital. And moaning and crying for God to have mercy on her soul. And the doctor got so annoyed with her that he called her a 'goddamn woman.' I believe it was a county hospital.

After much pleading, the doctor finally came to see me. He shrugged, said I was healthy and asked why I was even brought there in the first place. I guess to worry my mother, listen to Madame Dementia and go even longer on the fifty calories of food I'd had to eat all day. Awesome.

But it all gets better.

One of fave friends here came to pick me up--at 1:30 in the morning. That's true kindness. Like with my roommate earlier, I was very thankful. I slept at my friend's house, cuddling with her little dogs, sleeping in and taking it super easy today. No going-to-the-office for this gal. Just a nice walk home with a stop at a great local coffee shop for a decaf soy latte and egg and cheese croissant and pumpkin bread. With a full belly, I continued home, walking along the beach for part of the way. I called some loved ones and then work. Did some work. Showered, laid in the bath, shaved my legs, dealt with insurance stuff and then called about getting a rental. They picked me up. Out of the 1,000 times I've rented cars, this is the first time they actually came to get me. Yay!

I went in firmly expecting to drive out in a beige Geo. After all, I've driven them off rental lots before and they're actually not so bad. I let the agent know that I should probably go for as cheap a car as possible since I don't know how long Nancy'll get worked on. She let me know that it's use-or-lose money, so I may as well go for the full $50.00 per day. When she told me this, we were standing in front of a Mercedes and a BMW. Jokingly, I was like "Really? Well then, what do these babies go for?"

On the ride over to the rental place, I got a call from the body shop: Nancy's looking at more than five grand in damage. Immediately after we hung up, my insurance agent called (spooky) to let me know that Dingbat most likely doesn't have that insurance after all (no surprise). And, now, standing before the fancy cars, the rental car lady just volunteered to give me a free upgrade. No Geo for me this time. THIS time: Mercedes!

Should I feel shallow for being giddy and glowing about getting to drive this super nice car around for the next three weeks? Who cares? After yesterday, this is like a gift. My car's totaled and it's not my fault, my insurance premiums will rise even though it's not my fault, I spent hours of low-grade-yet-boredom-filled trauma at poorly run medical centers, and the nightmare that is Dingbat is likely far from over. So, hell yeah, I am going to enjoy the hell out of this car.

And thanks to the ambulance guys who brought me apple juice. That was a nice little gift, too.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Killin' the Earth with the Lord

Not everybody feels the same way about things. They prioritize things differently. This much is obvious. Some people like conservation, some drive Hummers. Some value religion, others are Godless heathens (kidding!). Sometimes—to save time—you somewhat erroneously lump things together and think that they belong, like yoga and vegetarianism or gay and Republican. Now I never actually considered the religiosity of the average Hummer driver and if I were to now, I still don’t know what my kneejerk guess would be.

That said, it struck me as odd seeing a sticker across the back window of an H3 that read, “Humming along with Jesus…”

Sunday, March 05, 2006

When heterosexual pairings are creepy...aka don't try to picture it

My parents went to see Brokeback Mountain last night. My mom purportedly lured my dad with the promise of trout fishing. Needless to say he was appalled to discover that the leading men used fishing for brown trout as their ruse to do it in the woods. Brown trout?! When they had pools and pools teeming with native cutthroat trout? He nearly walked out.

The other thing that detracted from his enjoyment of the cowboy love story was that Jake Gyllenhaal reminded him of somebody. He just couldn't shake it and he couldn't figure out who it was. Finally, it hit him: Jake Gyllenhaal looks for all the world like kd lang.

We agreed that Heath and kd would make a far more disturbing couple than Heath and Jake.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Carrie Bradshaw can have her Mr. Big

I spend a lot of words around this joint on music. True, most of the discussion is about Naughty by Nature, but there's a lot of stuff that I genuinely like--and not just in the ironic way that I like the Maid in Manhattan hoodie I found on the ground at a park after ultimate practice months ago and am wearing right now kind of like. Nope, I mean like like like. That is, check out the gem that is Indie Pop Rocks. May streaming it on iTunes help you maximize the workday.

And if it allows you to think I'm a little bit cooler, well, so much the better. Do your best to remember that for the following tale:

Sometimes when you watch TV and it's nighttime and you're kinda tired and the one teensy glass of wine you had with dinner kicked in with surprising force or at least you hope it did because how else can you explain the slight buzz you decided (in retrospect) that you must have had in order to call and order a product offered on TV? The kind of product that is only offered on TV (or, of course, in the As Seen On TV store in the Mall of America, in our great nation's great upper midsection, Minnesota. Let's hear it for Minnesota! Way to beat the system!) I did not buy a Salsa Master nor did I order a catalog from Pueblo, CO. I bought CDs. Two of them. And "Monster" was in the title. More with the details following some further justification:

I go to my job every weekday and work more than 40 hours a week (like 41, but still...). I go to school 12 additional hours a week and my limited spare time is spent either avoiding homework for said school or feverishly finishing novels so I can remain in good standing at my small fabulous book club.

Somehow, I still manage to find time for my first love: TV. During The Colbert Report, I am at full attention, giggling and (blush) actually blushing because he's sooo smaaaart and sooo cuuuute. Other TV times though, during your Roseannes and your Sabrinas, I fall into the medium happily, mindlessly. I drift away a little. I get swept away in Darlene's misunderstood-black-wearing-writer snark and Salem's troublemaking-punished-warlock-turned-talking-black-cat snark. I let commercials of other re-run shows wash over me, commercials for cell phones, DVD releases, 900 numbers, and then the generic TV ad announcer falls away as e-e-ev'ry ro-o-ose has its thorn just like e-e-ev'ry night has its daaaa-a-a-awn catches hold of my attention, seeps in. I sit transfixed as Poison's greatest song gives way to what a sha-a-ame what happened to ja-a-ane leads into Tesla's love is all around yo-o-uuu love is knockin' outside yr do-o-o-o-o-or-ah eases into ...and smiling next to you in silent lucidity-y. And then, the winner. The one that had me madly punching the number on the screen into my cell phone, grasping for my credit card. The song, that in 11th grade trig class, I made a classmate write all the lyrics of down for me so I could then sing it with all the accuracy and love it deserved, the song that the following year I taped FIRST with great honor so it would be the first track A-side of what became my beloved cheese metal mix, Nelson and Other Favorites. The song, behold:

I'm the one who wants to be with yo-o-o-u-u deep inside I hope you feeeel it's tru-ue waitin on a line of greens and bluu-uh-ues just to be the next to be-e-e with you

Mr. Big. Sigh.

Why I was so obsessed with this song in high school is lost to history, but the love has carried on. As has the remembered story behind the song: the classmate in trig who wrote the lyrics down for me (my "connection") gave me even more goods. She told me that apparently it was written by the lead singer of Mr. Big (whom we'll call "Mr. Big") when he was twelve years old. TWELVE! What twelve year old comes up with waitin on a line of greens and blues? A twelve year old in love, that's who. And not with some pre-teen girl, a woman. According to my connection, circa 1990, Mr. Big was really good friends with a 20 year old woman (I know, he must have been amaaaazing, even as a tween). Anyway, this woman got dumped by her of-age boyfriend and was heartbroken. To Be With You was young Mr. Big's attempt at simultaneously declaring his love for her and letting her know that her ex was a dink. I could provide a line-by-line explication of this, but it would likely interest only me.

Seeing this Mr. Big wonderfulness on late night wholesome television, I knew I had to have this song on CD (clearly I still have it on tape). I triumphantly ordered the 32-track double-disc set of Monster Ballads PLATINUM Edition, knowing that at a mere $26.99 I was the one laughing my way to the bank--paying less than a dollar a song! It got even better when the automated operator informed me that--since I chose the cheap, non-rush delivery option--I'd receive it in 2-4 weeks...long enough to totally forget that I'd ordered it and be psyched about it all over again when it arrived in my mailbox.

Two to four weeks later, I opened my mailbox and was PSYCHED ALL OVER AGAIN to receive my indeed forgotten double-disc set of totally kick ass Monster Ballads. Not only has it been in my car stereo non-stop since, but various tracks will also pop into my head throughout the workday, drowning out Indie Pop Rocks' best attempts to distract me with Bright Eyes and other great bands not singing about nights having dawns and cowboys and their sad sad songs.