Still Waiting . . .

It’s almost 7pm on a Saturday evening. I got home from work a little after noon. Charlie wanted to leave immediately to get some cat food and litter, dog food, and some deodorant. We stopped at Lowe’s for some grass seed and to check for battery-operated outdoor lights (we can’t ever seem to find a house with a good front porch that also has an outlet for lights. And I love fun outdoor lights). As we were driving up Keystone to hit Target he started griping about how many more lunch hours he’d have to spend at dealerships. We have a limited amount of time to use the check that he had shipped from USAA for purchasing a car with their financing.

This went on for a few minutes and eventually turned into an Onion article headline: “Area Wife Offers to ‘Just Stop By’ Car Dealership.” By the time we pulled in to the Toyota dealership it was just about one in the afternoon. By the time we left it was almost 5:30. We were sent to get food because neither of us had eaten much and I was beginning to worry about the dogs getting their own dinner. There had been the usual amount of pointless haggling over how much we’d get on the Santa Fe. We’d gotten down to the look-just-pay-it-off-and-we’ll-pay-the-sticker-price which still kept us on top.

The good news is, we found a car we really want. It’s a 2006 black Toyota Matrix XR. I like it because it’s got high gas mileage and storage, plus plenty of space for the dogs in the back. Charlie likes it because he thinks it “looks kind of mean for a wagon” and it has cruise control and a sunroof. This is, apparently, a high selling point for him. It also has a docking area for satellite radio which I don’t think we’ll ever use.
But the bad news is, I haven’t heard a word from him and it’s almost seven. I’m pretty sure the dealership closes at six on Saturdays, so this bodes well for us. If he’s still there, it’s because he’s working out kinks.

Wait! Holy shit. He just drove up the new car! Now I can say “Trinity! Get in the Matrix!” How long before that joke gets old?

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The Fit is 'Not' Go.

I’m really angry right now with the salespeople at Penske Honda on East 96th Street, just FYI. After discovering that they had to do absolutely nothing as we already had the preapproval and check from USAA, they offered us a completely insulting amount of money on the Santa Fe. We had the car all picked out, Charlie had put down a deposit on the new Honda Fit, and he had spent countless lunch breaks working with them over short periods of time to get all of his information so they didn’t have to do anything. Then the guy walked right up and, with a completely straight face, said our car was appraised at about four grand less than the trade in value. $4000 LESS than the Kelley Blue Book trade in value.

We both started laughing. Charlie stuck his hand out and said “Thanks for your time,” and we walked off. F*ck that. We don’t even owe that much on the Santa Fe. We’ve paid it way down. All we were asking was that they pick up the rest of the payments, which are below the KBB value. And the guy decided to jerk us around.

The search is back on and I’m incredibly disappointed. I really wanted that car.

Junior Itch

Although I don’t offically have enough credits yet to be considered a junior (I’m somewhere between 2 and 5 credits shy), I definitely have the so-called “junior itch.”

These past three years that I’ve been in school I have prided myself on not procrastinating, on getting really good grades, on being motivated, and enjoying my first attempt at “trying” in school since I put zero effort in to high school a decade and a half ago.
But now I’m feeling myself wind down. More like, I’ve been winding down and now I’ve hit bottom. I have to find a way to climb out, but even though I’m over the hump and am more than halfway done, there’s still no end clearly in sight.
Despite the fact that I have a midterm due this week, plus lots of discussion board questions and other assignments, I have found umpteen reasons not to start on my course work since 7:30 this morning.

First I needed to get dressed to get coffee. Then I talked with Annie about the new car. Then I walked home but needed to eat something first. Then it was either me taking the dogs out, or checking my email, or going through my blogroll, or straightening up a bit. Oh! But I also promised Charlie I’d send him resized images of his new Playstation 3 to put on MySpace or just have. He wrote me back to thank me for sending them and that started a conversation about the dogs and his going to the movies this afternoon which led me to check movie times for him at different theatres.

It’s ridiculous. I am so incredibly bored with this semester and the busywork. I’m bored with my instructors and the stupid discussion boards where no one had anything different or interesting to say, but I’m required to come up with at least 150 words in response to at least two different people. I have to constantly edit and upload drafts of papers and respond to comments that “prove” I’m doing the work . . . Except I wrote the research paper in the first two weeks of class, had double the amount of required references, and even considered asking the professor if I could just turn it in and be done.

I know I’m pretty much definite on the English degree. I just hope this summer off gives me the motivation I need to get back to IUPUI and start my 300-400 level classes. I can only hope they challenge me enough to stay interested.

Downsizing

I’m pretty excited to announce that we’re downsizing the family truckster. We’ve been talking over the idea of getting something to replace our 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe — a vehicle we could not have otherwise afforded if it weren’t for the fact that my Hyundai Sonata was stolen right out of the driveway when we lived in Broad Ripple. The Santa Fe is a nice, comfortable SUV. It gets better gas mileage than a lot of other SUVs because it sits on a car frame, not a truck, and is relatively small.
But that’s nothing compared to the Honda Fit. It gets an estimated 31mpg city and up to 38 highway. That’s, I’m ashamed to say, practically twice the mileage we get on the Santa Fe.

We’re getting a brand new, off-the-assembly-line, “Storm Silver Metallic” 2007 Honda Fit for a couple grand less than the price of what we financed the Santa Fe. Which, by the way, was already 2 years old when we got it. The Fit has a lot of good standard features, but we ordered the remote keyless entry and alarm, and Charlie’s going to have the windows tinted when we get it. Mostly because the interior of every single vehicle is black. We talked about a moonroof but that’s just a luxury.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Southpark episode about the hybrid cards where the “smug” comes from San Francisco and meets over Southpark because everyone’s driving a Prius and then that meets up with George Clooney’s acceptance speech . . . Well, I’m saying I don’t want to be one of those I-bought-a-really-fuel-efficient-little-car-so-take-that-Man smug people about our purchase, but I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ve never considered myself a SUV driver and I didn’t want that to be my primary means of transportation while Charlie got a small truck for carpentry work.

I’m definite that we’re going to be taking it for a spin to Chicago or somewhere relatively close in August or September for a vacation. We’ve made a few promises to one another lately about committing ourselves to more travel. This is just a kind-of expensive reason to make us do it.

Back in My Day . . .

I had the CD player on shuffle as I was going through my daily blog roll and most-frequently-visited Web sites. First Depeche Mode’s Violator came on as I was logging on to MySpace to read a message. Then I noticed my hair in the photo I currently have on there. I realized it was pretty much the same style I had in high school. Thick, shoulder-length, dark hair that was parted on the side and hung down on one side of my face. Of course, I don’t actually wear it over my face now; I’m not trying to prove my angst to the world. Most of the time it’s just in a ponytail. And I don’t shave the sides and back all the way up past my ears. But, still. It’s eerily similar. Only this time I didn’t do it on purpose. I’ve just refused to get it cut and this is the result.

Before that I plugged in my 60GB external hard drive to back up everything since I’ve been having problems with the screen on my laptop. That took me back to the first PC I sort-of built. I couldn’t even tell you the speed of the processor, but I remember it had a whopping 16MB of RAM and I might have had a one gig hard drive, but I doubt it. I’m sure at that time I was oohing and aahing over the idea of that much space. I think I also saved up to get an external 12x CD drive. Only the best for me!
When I got the external hard drive at Fry’s the other day, I saw a terabyte for $600. I also saw a 1GB portable USB memory card that was smaller than my house key for $16.99, a DVD burner for fifty bucks, 2GB of DDR memory for under $200, and a 40-inch LCD screen TV for under a grand.

I used to walk a mile to school uphill, both ways, in the snow, and we were lucky to have a Tandy personal computer with MSDOS, 256K of memory, and take summer courses in Turtle.

10 TEXT : HOME
20 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It sounds like everyone’s got projects going on at home. The Spring Design Bug has bitten. Katie and Dave are fixing up their bathroom, Scott and Jay are designing their yet-to-be-built fence, and we’re signing at least another two year lease. In that case, all the things I forewent doing this past 11 months I’ve started thinking about.

Renting is somewhat liberating because you don’t feel obligated to do much if you don’t want to. If something breaks, we just call the landlord or pay for it ourselves and send him a receipt. He’s pretty cool about taking everything off the rent.
Then again, you want your house to be a home. Since we haven’t decided if or when we’re buying in Indianapolis (I can’t even decide on whether or not I want to go to grad school right after I get my BA), we thought maybe we’d personalize things a bit around here. Other than some area rugs, artwork on the walls, strategic placement of an ottoman, and planting a few small flowers, we haven’t done anything since moving here. Charlie and I agreed on three projects.

First we’re going to tear up the backyard and plant some lilac bushes (I saw some already starting to bud on sale yesterday) and maybe some peonies. We’re also going to price sod. Since our back area is so small it probably wouldn’t be that expensive to throw some down. I doubt the landlord would reimburse us for that, but both of us said we didn’t care. The dogs hang out back there and I’m sick of perpetually wiping off eight huge muddy feet.
Plus, seeding week after week to no avail has gotten really old. The front yard is in great shape and gets plenty of sun, but the back and side are pretty sad.

Second we’re going to paint just two accent walls in the house. Charlie picked out the yummiest shade of orange that I think would go great in the living room. I might use it in the bedroom, as well. If that goes over and we’re not sick of painting (the ceilings are over ten feet tall so I’ll be irritated with the job), I have a buttery yellow for the kitchen that I might want to slap on.

Third we’re going to redesign some old furniture. We were talking about having a yard sale in about a month. We still have a ton of stuff that’s been slowly replaced over the past year or so and we don’t know what to do with it. Since I’m pissed off at CraigsList right now, I’m not going that route and I don’t have the energy to negotiate the price on a crappy end table or an old chair. Just take it!

Then again, Sarah, my assistant manager, has some friends who had an apartment fire last week and lost everything. I feel so terrible about it that I just want to give them everything I have. They have two dogs, both of whom survived, but one is in the vet hospital with some burns. How awful that must have been. So if they need some temporary (or permanent) furniture, dishes, and clothes, I’m willing to give them everything I have. In light of what happened to them, trying to make a profit at a yard sale just doesn’t seem important.

Bad Classifieds Etiquette

I had a relatively irritating CraigsList experience this week. It was one of those too-good-to-be-true situations where I found someone selling a great entertainment center for cheap. I wrote right away only to have the person respond and tell me it was sold.
I hate that.
Why don’t people save those stupid CL edit/delete messages so they can actually go back and delete their ads? What’s as annoying is when someone goes back to edit a message to say “Taken” or “SOLD!” in the headline. Do they not notice the delete button right next to the edit button?

Well, on Wednesday the woman wrote me back saying the individual (her word, not mine) who was supposed to purchase it never showed up. Was I still interested? I said I was and called Charlie. He said we could pick it up that evening when he got home from work, which I told the seller in a response email. She wrote me again to say someone was already coming to look at it at 8:30pm. Okaaaay . . . I asked Charlie what he thought and he said he was annoyed.

That night around 10pm I got another email from her saying the guy didn’t want the armoire. So we talked it over and decided we needed specific measurements to make sure we could fit it in the Santa Fe. I wrote her yet again, saying yes, we were still interested and asked for dimensions and if the doors opened all the way out or if they folded back. I didn’t get a response until just now, another email. This time it just said “Thanks for your interest, but the entertainment center has been sold.”

Once again, I have to apologize for being peeved about something so stupid. Against my better judgment I immediately wrote back, telling her that in the future she might consider attempting to keep track of who she writes and to whom she offers her items. I said I appreciated her telling me it was sold, but it had been three days after I asked her two questions about the armoire. Was this too much for her to handle? Only I wasn’t super-nice about it.

I’m already embarrassed about the message and will probably feel more so if she responds to tell me off. But I tend to have a structure when I post CL ads, out of respect for interested parties. I just keep the messages in my inbox so I have a record of the chronological responses. First come, first served. If there are too many responses right away, I just delete the ad.

Maybe she was just having a bad week, but I really wanted that center for my TV.

The American Dream

My initial excitement over the discovery of a straight iron has faded. Either I’m too violent with it or it’s just way too hot and is breaking off my hair. The entire right side of my head looked mildly poodle-ish after a session with the straightening iron this afternoon. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong as the previous attempts have been rather successful.

A friend from work – sort of our district manager – applied for an internship with a local monthly publication but didn’t receive it since she had to work a certain amount of hours in their office. She already has a full time job (and plays in an orchestra). However, they did offer her a position as a freelance writer. She said they were still looking for an intern and gave me a heads up. It’s definitely something I’d be interested in if I could work it into my schedule.

Two things I’ve discovered about myself lately: I can be really lazy and I’m a huge control freak. Okay, maybe not “lazy,” exactly. More like happy just being at home. Although things are going really well right now I tend to get overstimulated pretty easily. It frustrates Charlie because he constantly wants to be doing something. But you can only go out to eat or the movies so many times in a week before you’re just flushing money down the toilet. I need to find new hobbies, or at least focus on the ones I have. Part of happiness, I think, is finding meaning in the moment, in each thing you’re doing. I think the Scientific American Mind article called it “flow.” I’m pretty good at finding it throughout the day; when I’m cleaning the bathtub, I’m really cleaning it. When I’m doing dishes, I’m not worrying about the future or past. But I’m not looking for “flow” in housecleaning. Perhaps something slightly more meaningful.

So I think I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life: be paid to work from home. I’m going to guess that’s a pretty popular goal. I don’t mind if I have to make trips to do interviews, food or movie reviews, or check out a new store or something for an article. As long as it’s on my terms. But I think my main goal is going to be finding a way to be an instructor for online courses and writing freelance. I know it’s probably not a lot of money and it won’t be easy to get those kinds of positions, but it’s something to think about. Getting a few articles published will be the first goal. Then we’ll see if I can make something happen.

Which brings us back to the lazy part . . . So maybe I’ll just cross my fingers that I’ll win the lottery?

Overheard at Work: Lent Edition

I’m standing at the register this morning waiting for these two women to order who are yukking it up about their pilates class when the following conversation takes place:
Me: Hi, what can we get for you?
Woman #1: I’ll have a tall, skinny latte.
Woman #2: I’ll have the same thing.
Woman #1: [turning to Woman #2] I haven’t had any caffeine since Ash Wednesday. I gave it up for Lent.
Woman #2: [gasping] I don’t want you to sin and go to hell for me!
Woman #1: It’ll be fine. I’ll get water, too.

So. I could say some really sarcastic stuff but I’m not going to.

Fasting during Lent was more severe in ancient times than today. Socrates Scholasticus reports that in some places, all animal products were strictly forbidden, while others will permit fish, others permit fish and fowl, others prohibit fruit and eggs, and still others eat only bread. In some places, believers abstained from food for an entire day; others took only one meal each day, while others abstained from all food until 3 o’clock. In most places, however, the practice was to abstain from eating until the evening, when a small meal without meat or alcohol was eaten.
Today, in the West, the practice is considerably relaxed, though in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches abstinence from the above-mentioned food products is still commonly practiced, meaning only vegetarian meals are consumed during this time in many Eastern countries. Lenten practices (as well as various other liturgical practices) are more common in Protestant circles than they once were. In the Roman Catholic Church it is tradition to abstain from meat every Friday for the duration of Lent, although fish and dairy products are still permitted. On Ash Wednesday it is customary to fast for the day, with no meat, eating only one full meal, and if necessary, two small meals also.

Happy Consumer

It’s been a beautiful past two days. This is where I’m sitting right now – on the right. The outdoor rug was a gift from Annie and the cushions were on clearance at Pier 1. I may not be taking any time off to enjoy my spring break, but as long as the weather stays above 50, I’ll be happy. Second to autumn, this is my favorite time of year. It’s been cold and the heat’s been drying out everything in the house, including my sinuses. After a few bloody noses, I’m ready to open the windows and let in some fresh air.

I celebrated the change in weather by splurging on an all-new living room. We bought the Gigantic Green Couch when we moved in here last April, and, thanks to Turbo Tax Deduction Maximizer, we’ve been able to decorate in a way that makes our house feel like our home.

I don’t think, in all my adult life, I have ever owned two things that “match.” Although I struggle with those issues of materialism that go along with just being a Consumer, I have to admit that it’s nice to have two things that come from the same place. And I don’t mean Goodwill. And as much as I like my stuff having character, personality, and age, there’s something to be said for new, quality furniture that will last. I broke my old coffee table. When Trinity was a puppy she used to sit under it and chew on the wooden rungs that ran across the bottom. Over the course of the past eight or ten years I’ve owned it, I’ve put all sorts of weight on it. It finally snapped under the pressure. So we splurged. I bought the coffee table and Charlie bought the end tables. They go with our entertainment center pretty well, which you can’t see in this photo. You can, however, see the imprints from several butts and hundred-pound dogs on each seat cushion.

I was just reading this article in Scientific American Mind last night about how hard it is for about two thirds of the population to be happy. It’s just genetic. A small amount of people are genuinely happy all the time. But money, a better job, bigger house, better car . . . None of these things actually help anyone to find some sort of long-lasting happiness. It’s more about a single moment of joy in a, hopefully, life of contentment. I guess that’s what the living room has done for me today because, for the most part, I think I’m feeling pretty good about things.