Nothing but Flowers
Friday, February 11, 2005
rest in peace Arthur Miller
Saturday, February 05, 2005
4 years and 44,500 miles ago, on a snowy February evening, I took possession of a state-of-the-art, quiet, fabulous, wonderful little green Toyota prius. It has always treated me well. I've kvetched endlessly about the high price of having a car in Chicago, I've whined about the idiosyncrasies of hybrid ownership. But I've never regretted having a strange, cutting-edge, car. Until today.

The idea that my 2001 Prius is still a novelty, still a freak, is somewhat disheartening as well. Sure, there are millions more hybrids on the road now then there were in 2001--when I was liable to get stopped at gas stations or red lights and asked endless questions about whether or not I had to plug it in (I don't). But you'd think that my 4-year old car would no longer be "future car", as friends used to call it.

I've had more than my fair share of flat tires (6, I think. Possibly 7. Toyota paid for 4 of them when I sent an angry letter with my lawyer-stepdad's address at the top), a few too many dents (3 have been repaired, several little ones remain). My poor car has been keyed, banged, treated with a bad cover-paint job from that time it was scraped by a red car, and suffered the indignity of carting around cases of empty diet coke cans (i.e. my trash).

I love my car. I hate my dealership.

First, there is the violation and indignity of the mechanic who calls me "Sweetie" or "beautiful", often with his arm around my shoulder. Who once left a message on a Saturday morning hoping that I was "sleeping like a beautiful little lamb, because you deserve some good beauty rest". Who followed me out of the dealership a couple weeks ago, with the lame excuse that I might have left "a cup, with a straw" on the counter.

Second, there is the location. It's the dealership closest to where I lived when I bought the car, and to where I work now. But it is more than 17 miles from where I live, in the middle of a neighborhood that the city has forgotten about.

Hell, the city has forgotten about much of the south side. The busses don't come when they should, and when they do come the drivers are overworked and tired, the patrons justifiably angry.

Anyway, I didn't switch dealerships at first because it was still close to work. When the warranty ran out I stopped going to a dealer anyway, but I never transferred my records or looked up a new phone number. So a couple weeks ago when I knew I needed to call a Toyota dealership, they were the only one I knew about.

I haven't called to complain about the harassment--and it clearly is the type of harassment I thought we'd outlawed in the '80's--because of a combination of shame, guilt, desire not to get someone fired, and because I really don't want to be the little white girl who accused the only black senior mechanic at the dealership (which is in a black neighborhood) of harassing her. Ridiculous, but...

As a side note, I opined (after taking the bus back from the dealership on a recent week) that many of the cities woes and racial disharmonies could be eased if Mayor Daley spent a day riding the CTA on the South Side. Listening to people, waiting with them, getting treated like shit with them, etc. Of course this will never happen, but it's fun to dream.

Oh, after riding the CTA he'd have to fix it. But the man tears up airports before breakfast, I'm sure he could fix public transit if he thought about it.

Anyway, a few weeks ago as I drove home from work all the scary warning lights came on in the computer screen in the center of the dashboard of my car.

If you've never been in a Prius, here's the deal. Speedometer/odometer, all that stuff, is digital and at eye level in the exact center of the car. Then embedded in the dashboard, with the heat controls (those are normal), is a little computer screen. I think it's about 6" square, but I'm not sure. Actually, it's probably not square. Anyway, it controls the radio/CD and would control the GPS system if I had it installed. But that would have been $5,000 extra and 6 months of wait time. As a retrofit it's about the same.

The computer, when not being used to change the radio station, has two information screen. One is a bar graph tracking MPG per 5 minutes, with info about historical MPG in the bottom (I'm at 41.4 MPG for the last 124 miles. Not bad, given the cold weather). The other is a diagram of icons representing the gas engine and the hybrid battery, showing what is powering the car at the current moment.

A few weeks ago as I was driving home, the bargraph suddenly blanked, and 3 new icons came on the screen, along with the check engine light. These were scary icons--a huge triangle with an exclamation point, and a little car icon with a big x through it. I pulled over and called the dealership.

Creepy guy (thought I didn't realize it was him at the time) told me not to worry, I couldn't do anything about it then and should bring my car in in the morning. I was--justifiably, I think-- worried about breaking down, but he assured me if I broke down he could come pick me up, put me in his truck, and take me home.

At the time, that comment was only vaguely creepy. Retrospectively it's downright terrifying.

Turns out my computer is busted. Need a new one, straight from Japan. It was ordered and arrived a couple weeks ago. Here's the sequence of events

a) phone call from the dealer telling me the part is in
b) I call and ask when I can come in, the woman says "anytime", without getting my name or checking
c) I call again--seems weird that she didn't check--and I'm told "any M-W-Th afternoon"
d) I call on a Wednesday afternoon, as I'm halfway to the dealership--just to check. They tell me I'll need to come in a morning, because there are only certain Prius certified techs, and at night they are the only guys on (meaning I can't monopolize them).
e) I ask if I can go on a Saturday. They say "absolutely, we open at 6:30am"
f) I bring the car early this AM
G) I'm told that they can't fix it today. I have to come back on Wednesday because, well, because they have to be on the phone with Toyota when they install it. and they aren't open on saturdays.

Let me get this straight: you have to install it while on the phone with Toyota?

not conforting. He ammended later to say "after we install it, we have to call and check with Toyota"

still not comforting. And they'll need to keep the car all day.

um, that just makes me really nervous. and angry. and frustrated.

just to name a few.

More later, I have to prep for a meeting.

Friday, February 04, 2005
This sort of sums up my feelings about neighborhood safety and the CPD in one little report. It's got the woman who is freaked out by the recent attacks, the absurd dimensions of the streets, and the outrageous parking fines.

I love it when Michael Riedel gets catty

Thursday, February 03, 2005
I think it is hard for me, a non-writer, to justify something as inherently narcissistic (did I spell that correctly? I doubt it) as keeping a regular public blog.
I'm not interested in sharing many personal details, I'm not particularly funny, I don't write particularly well, so really...
But there is something really fun about blogging for the world. So I'm not going to "Stop".

The thing is, any time I am really riled up about something in the world someone else has blogged it better, more professionally. And when I find something that EVERYONE MUST read, linking to it is fun, but directly emailing people who would find it amusing/profound is more effective. And when something momentous happens to me...well, then I suppose I'll blog it. Unless it's personal, in which case I will just call someone who cares.

I promise to continue to rant about terrible plays, and to link to articles when the spirit moves me. I promise to post here if/when I get a new job, and all of that.

On another note, I told my high school's alumni office that I would write a paragraph about my experience with drama in high school.
I have a couple reactions.
First, they clearly want something cheesy about how the drama teachers changed my life, or how I found my true calling while in high school, etc. I really don't want to write that. It's not really true, and would not be interesting to read or particularly helpful to the school.
Second, the phrasing of the email makes me really tempted to write about all the "drama" that has nothing to with theater.
Third, I have intensely mixed feelings about high school. I was miserable all the time. I was whiny and needy and half-alive...
Fourth, I don't think "sneaking up on to the flydeck above the catwalk to smoke cigarettes" really cuts it for the magazine. Not that I ever did that, but I wish I had.

I may just not do it. I'm incredibly busy this week. Last night was my only free evening, and I spent it screaming at the SOTU. I suppose I could have been working on it now, but as I began my study of procrastination in high school, it seems only appropriate to continue it now.

I thought I had exorcised those demons, but they just keep coming back.

I need to call my landlord and ask if I can get a 3 month extension on my lease. I'm supposed to sign the renewal by 2/11, and I really can't move by April 30th (which is when it is up). But at the same time, renewing for a year would be stupid, since I have no idea where I'll be living or working in 6 months.

I sense a panic attack coming.

On that note, off to the gym.

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