Jesus, Take the Wheel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This is my car, Audrey, on the day she and I became partners in conquering the road:

We've been best friends for 5 years.  Except for finicky shoes (read: tires), she and I have never had any fights.  We just get along splendidly.  She's been worth every penny I paid for her.

This is the story of how she made my Wednesday morning insane.

I noticed on Tuesday during my commute that my engine was running slightly louder than normal. It was weird, but everything else was fine, so I decided to see how it ran today and if it was still doing that, I’d take it in to get checked out. I got in the car Wednesday morning and it was fine, so I was happy about that and went on my merry way to work. So like 5 minutes into my commute, I notice that my XM radio is going in and out. Sometimes that happens like if I’m underground in a parking garage or a tunnel or something, but not usually when I’m driving down a regular road. Plus I take this road every day and I always listen to XM (LOVING THE NEW PEARL JAM STATION!!  Channel 39 if you have XM) and it’s never done that before. I thought maybe it was just acting up today b/c it was super rainy the night before and early Wednesday morning, though, so I decided to see if the regular radio would work. FM was fading in and out, too, so I knew something was up. I turned the radio off and kept driving and made a note to call the dealership as soon as I got to work.

Remember how I just said it had rained the night before?  Consequently I also was trying to use my wipers every so often to clear the windshield b/c of water that was getting splashed on them from the road.  The wipers were acting weird- super noisy (not normal) and SLLLOOOOOWWW. Anyway, like a minute after I turned off the radio, all these bad indicator lights started lighting up on my dashboard, so I started to kind of freak out a little b/c I was only about halfway to work, I was pretty far from the dealership, and L is out of town for work this week so he wasn’t exactly available to come rescue me and provide manly advice. I ever-so-wisely decided to keep driving at a slower pace in hopes that I could just make it to work so that I could park in an uncovered spot and have a tow truck meet me there. I kept driving (you better believe I was absolutely white-knuckling the steering wheel the whole time) and suddenly amidst all the bad indicator lights, the dials on the dashboard (like RPMs, speed, gas, etc) suddenly ALL went down to 0, like what it looks like when the car is totally turned off, but the car was still on and the lights on the dashboard were still on. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you exhibit A:

See those red and orange lights on the right side of the MPH dial?  THOSE ARE THE BAD ONES.  Also note that the dials are all pointing down and that the blue circle shows NOTHING in it.  That's not good.  The car was in drive when I took this, although I was at a stop light.  Also, for the record, I took this as pictoral proof of what was going on so I could show it to the dealership when I took Audrey in to get a physical.

Anyway, when the bad lights started I KNEW without a doubt that something was really, really wrong and was praying I’d get to my building before the car blew up or something. Side note: my office is in the middle of an area that is notorious for having HORRIBLE traffic b/c lots and lots of people and constant construction- 2 major highways and the inner loop all intersect around the area and they in the midst of building a Metro rail and station (for example, you can start out in the center lane and suddenly you’re in the far right lane, then after another light you’re instantly in the far left lane… basically someday there’ll be like 6 lanes in each direction or something but right now there’s only 3 at most at any given time and the lanes that are open change from time to time- the outside ones are all blocked off in various areas b/c of construction, hence the inconsistency). I’ve driven past people before that were stalled out and thought, “That sucks and I hope it’s never me!” because it’s just a disaster for everyone else when that happens. Anyway, to get to the point, I didn’t make it to work. I was waiting at a red light and the lights on my dashboard started going in and out, and just as it turned green and I started to go, my Audrey decided she wasn't having any more of the whole "driving" bit and she shut down. And would. not. re. start. Not even a little bit.  In case you are wondering, that results in panic, specifically, to me.  I was totally being that idiot car who was MAJORLY blocking traffic- I was right at a point where the toll road merges onto the road I was on so there’s a dedicated lane for them and then 2 other lanes… I was in the left lane but not quite to the turn lane for the light I was at. So I turned on my hazards but after about a minute the left side quit working (thanks to my dying by the second battery) so it just looked like I was trying to change lanes. GREAT!  What's a panicked girl to do in this situation?  Call her husband (obvi- b/c L can totally help from 5 states away).  Then I realized I should wave to the car behind me to go around me (she figured it out somehow) since she would clearly not get to her destination by staying behind me. L didn’t answer on the first try, so then I called my boss to tell her what happened and that I’d be late. Then I called my insurance company to see if they would cover a tow truck (they’ll reimburse a portion of the fee I was actually charged- which was an excessive amount that L referred to as a racket this evening and that my dad yelled about when I told him about it tonight) and while I was on the phone with them, the nicest man ever stopped and offered to help me, but then we couldn’t get the car into neutral (because of the lack of any kind of power) to be able to push it into the turn lane and out of the way. Right about that time the best cop I’ve ever met pulled up (cops regularly patrol the area because it’s so ridiculous) and after we told him what was going on, he pulled up in front of me, turned around, and tried to jump me. That got the battery to work a little but the car still wouldn’t turn over, so we threw it in neutral and they pushed my car out of the way. Then the cop called a tow truck for me (lesson of the day: tow trucks respond to cop calls faster than if it’s just a civilian calling) and was nice enough to wait with me until the tow truck arrived. The car got towed to the dealership and I got a loaner from them.  I finally got work only about 2 hours late, which wasn't too bad considering how far away the dealership is from where I work. 

If you're wondering what is wrong with Audrey, doctor/dealership informed me that I will most likely be the proud new owner of a new alternator (which, by the way, is not common apparently this is uncommon in girls like Audrey- usually they don't need new ones), a new battery, and new battery connectors (they over heated when the battery got fried, and it got fried because the alternator was bad.  Don't you just love a good contageon or domino effect??). My heart skipped a beat when my service guy told me what it's going to cost, but I guess that's part of being an adult and owning a car. As I said earlier, I've never had any problems with Audrey before this. Everything else has been general maintenance/normal wear and tear. I also know Audrey and I will continue to be BFFs for many years to come (I love not having a car payment!), so we'll gladly pay for some new hardware for her to keep her around.

Honestly the whole thing could have been a lot worse. It wasn’t raining anymore when my car decided to stop cooperating. Mike (the nice man) could’ve just done what I’ve always done and thought, “That sucks!” as he drove by (going in the other direction) instead of stopping. The cop could have been a jerk or just not waited with me for the tow truck (which came amazingly fast AND he got my car loaded faster than I've ever seen a tow truck load up a car), and the dealership could have run out of loaners, so all in all, for having car issues, it worked out well. Like to the point where I want to write thank you notes to everyone that helped me. I wish I’d gotten Mike’s last name or maybe his license plate number or something to find out where he lives! Oh well. I’ll just have to pay it forward.
And in completely unrelated news, one of my dearest, oldest friends got engaged earlier tonight!  Congrats K&D!!  I am so excited for you both and I can't wait to celebrate your big day with you!  Hooray for an awesome end of a crazy day!

Do You Remember the Time

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For approximately 15 years of my life, I was a huge fan of making mixed tapes/CDs.  LOVED. THEM.  With a passion.  What I love now is rediscovering these old gems and listening to them.  Some have titles.  Some are just blank.  I really love finding untitled ones.  The anticipation of wondering what will be on the compilation, how it'll start, and then trying to remember what will come after that first song is just so fun for me. 
Back in the day (read: junior high, high school, college, and my first year or two post-college), I was the queen of mixed tapes, which eventually transitioned into mixed CDs.  I have no idea what started this love, but you better believe that once I got my first real stereo in 7th grade, I was all about making mixed tapes. Source music came from tapes and CDs I already owned and sometimes also from the radio.  I listened to the radio in the morning while I got ready for school and at night when I did my homework.  I was such a little music freak. 

When I got to high school, I had to get ready for school at school in the locker room because I had drill team/dance line practice in the mornings.  We always had a radio of some sort going and it was usually the seniors that were in control of what was played.  Sometime during my junior year, I was given the honor of being in charge and obviously I just stayed in charge during my senior year.  I made mixed tapes for the locker room, for my friends, and obviously for my car.  The tapes for the car were absolutely a requirement because you better believe that my maroon-ish brown, 2-door, ’82 Century Buick did NOT have a CD player.  Actually it originally only came with a radio but my sister installed a CD player when she had the car, which she then gave to her then-boyfriend in exchange for a tape player from his Jeep.  Yeah, I was pissed.  Thanks for the love, sis.  Anyway, tapes were a necessity for those times when the radio just would not cut it. 

College came and with it, an Exploder with a 6-disc CD changer (go hard or go home, right?) AND a roommate with a CD burner (so novel at the time) and a dorm room with high-speed internet access to Napster.  (Yes, this was before you had to pay for Napster and all the lawsuits that were so rampant in 2000.)  Oh, the good ol’ days.  The immediate access to Napster and CD burners meant mixed CDs were created for myself, Sarah, and pretty much everyone we knew.  You better believe that my freshman year roommate (one of the many Sarahs in my life!) and I thought we were SA CUL because we had a CD burner!!  Funny to think that's a standard part of any computer now.

Anyway, I'm the nerd who still has (almost) every CD I've ever purchased or burned for myself, although I rarely listen to CDs anymore. But recently, I decided to flip through 3 of my smaller CD cases to see what was in them. I'm loving re-discovering albums I'd forgotten about and also trying to remember what was going on in my life when I burned each CD. For some of them, I can immediately recall the year, my mood, and specific events going on in my life, and I'll know what other songs will follow the first few on the CD. Others are a surprise and I'll have to wait and see what I filled the disc with. 

Don't get me wrong- I do love my ipod and most of the songs and albums I'm rediscovering are actually on my ipod, but I have so many songs on it that never come up in the shuffle mode that I'd forgotten they were there.  Plus, there's something about a mixed tape/CD that I still just love that a playlist on my ipod just doesn't quit recreate for me. 

Enough on this.  I'm off to bed.  But hopefully this inspires you random readers to go dig up an old mixed tape/CD and see what story it tells you! 

Country Grammar

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've been watching my slew of bad television over the past few weeks and listening to podcasts on my ipod at work and I've come to notice something that DRIVES. ME. CRAZY: incorrect usage of pronouns.  Yeah, I just nerded out on you.  Actually, this is something that my former English teacher of a mother first alerted me to and since she did, I can't stop hearing it everywhere.  It is like nails on a chalk board to me and I have to agree with Mom that it makes an otherwise smart person sound so dumb.  Worse, it starts to sound correct, which leads to the dumbing down of America and that causes Oprah to have whole shows devoted to the state of the public school system, which causes my teacher friends to get all up in arms and the cycle just continues from there. 

Examples of what I'm talking about: "Him and I are going to the movie."  Or try, "Kate had dinner with L and I."  OMG.  Stop using objective pronouns in the subject of a sentence and stop using subjective pronouns in the object of the sentence!!  With that, I share a lesson with whomever it is that reads this blog that my mother shared with me years and years ago:  read or say the sentence with both pronouns individually, and know that it's okay to change the verb to match a singular subject if need be.  Examples based on the sentences above:  Him is going to the movie (uh, no); I am going to the movie (thumbs up).  Kate had dinner with L (hope it was good); Kate had dinner with I (idiot). The lesson here is that IF IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE ON ITS OWN, IT'S NOT RIGHT AND IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY MORE SENSE WHEN YOU ADD THE ADDITIONAL PERSON IN THE SENTENCE.  And just because lots of people say it incorrectly does NOT make it right.  It's no different than using the apostrophes on plural words (horrid) or mixing up spellings of words (your vs. you're, their vs. there, etc.).  So take my mom's little tip and learn it, use it, love it. 

Oh and you're welcome.

And now I'm off my soap box.

On a completely unrelated topic, after walking into a bathroom stall tonight and interrupting a half-naked (from the waist up) 4-ish year old child while she was crawling from one stall to another, I have decided that I believe that children should not be allowed to use public restrooms by themselves unless they are of elementary school age.  A mother shouldn't have to come in to the restroom to check on her kids.  If your child can't reach the faucet handles on the sink without help, they need a parental escort.  That way the restaurant and fellow patrons don't have to deal with the bathroom stalls getting locked from the inside out while they aren't occupied. 

Just saying.

Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need: the sun and the rain and the appleseed. The Lord is good to me. Amen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If you're a camp friend, you recognize that one.  My roomie from my freshman year of college is here this week!!  We had dinner at the house last night and another high school friend of ours, Neredith, and her husband and daughter came, too.  This was our dessert:

 That's an upside down apple cake.  I'm so pleased with how it came out!  It was tasty, too.  Cooking Light, you have redeemed yourself.  (There was an unfortunate incident from the same issue that involved apple-turnip soup.  Note to all: do NOT make that soup.)

Viva Las Vegas

Monday, October 11, 2010

4 friends all turning 30 within 30-ish days of each other.  3 nights filled with great food.  Too many pictures to choose from.  1 amazing room we called home during our adventures.  A pictoral recap:

(View of the Grand Canyon from my plane)

Our hotel (Aria, in case you were wondering)

Our high-tech room

The super-sweet bathroom

Cocktail time with the best sidecars we may have ever had.

Frozen Hot Chocolate split 4 ways never hurt anyone. 

 Mystere, pre-show.

Mystere keeps it classy by serving champagne in plastic cups, complete with lids.

Cool light fixture at Lavo

Happy 30th birthdays to all of us!!

All in all, a fabulous trip that was both relaxing and fun.  Aria was fabulous, so we all highly recommend staying there.  Special bonus that I'm so proud of myself for doing: I played craps for approximately 30 minutes while the cleaning crew was working on our room and I ended up winning back all the money I'd lost the day before.  Woo hoo!  I was on such a roll.  Literally.  (Okay that was super lame, but I couldn't resist.  Sorry.)  Anyway, we had a great time and I can't wait to do it again!  Hooray for fabulous friends!!

Luck Be a Lady Tonight

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Or, more accurately, luck be a lady yesterday.  Or possibly even Thursday night.  I'm not totally sure when the luck actually happened.  The luck I speak of would be this:

Woo hoo!  Hooray for winning fun stuff!  That's the second time in 2 weeks that my "I'm feeling lucky" feeling has been SPOT. ON.  (The previous time won me $154 on my Vegas trip that I still have yet to write about.  Champagne and Sprinkles- I need to get some pics from you.)  That was the perfect way to start my Friday morning, especially after a long work week and a Thursday afternoon commute home that was 3x longer than it normally is (thanks to a major ambulance/car collision).  But it redeemed the end of my week.  Check out Freckled Citizen's blog here

Now if only A&M and Baylor would both pull through with wins and make this household even happier...

Wasting Time

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm working on a post for you about my whereabouts over last week (and thus why there were no new posts) but I'm dealing with some picture issues.  In the meantime, I'll tell you a few completely random things.

First, I'm watching Babies while I write this and at 10 minutes in, it might be the cutest thing ever.  So relaxing to watch.  There is no dialogue. 

Note: it's a good thing I live in America.  I'm far too modest to live in the village where the African family lives.  That said, the African babies are by far my favorites.  Adorable.

Second, if you ever need a miracle cleaner for your kitchen/bathroom/home, I was just reminded how much I love Bar Keeper's Friend. 

Mom introduced me to this years ago when I had a gross stainless steel sink that I couldn't get clean enough (sorry if you love stainless steel sinks.  Then again, if you have one that you love, it's probably much nicer than all the crappy ones I had in my apartments in college and in Austin).  This stuff gets rid of rust in stainless steel sinks with minimal elbow grease and a regular sponge.  If you have a porcelain sink, it gets rid of the gray marks that metal utensils and cast iron cookware can leave behind.  And it does so much more, too!  I highly recommend.  Our sink looks brand new, and I can assure that it is most definitely not.  Also, this stuff is like half the price of other similar cleaners.  Oh and most importantly, in no way is this a paid endorsement.

And now I'm off to finish watching the cutest movie/documentary ever. 
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