Car Shopping

It used to be easy to bring Artemis with us places:

By the time she was 5 months old, that wasn’t quite as simple:

Now that she’s 7 months old and over 60 pounds, it’s getting downright impossible to stuff her in the back seat with the kids (she’s long outgrown the front seat). 

Since the lease is coming up on my Civic, The Bean and I started discussing about possibly trading it in for something that would still be in our price range, but actually fit everyone comfortably.

And that’s when we discovered that finding a car we both agreed on was going to be much more difficult than we originally anticipated.

“What about the Mazda 5?”

“Bean, we’ve been through this a million times.  Yes, it’s got great seating.  Yes, it’s affordable.  Yes, Artemis will fit nicely, which solves the problem we have with the Civic.  It’s perfect in every way except one…..”

“Becky, you’re being ridiculous.  It’s not a minivan.”

“Dude.  It’s a minivan.”

“It is NOT a minivan.”

“Well, look at this!  My friend Google seems to disagree with you.  It’s known as ‘Mazda’s Mini-Minivan’.”

“It’s not a minivan.  In fact, back when they first released it they used to have trouble with them catching on fire.  When they looked into why that was, it was because people were souping them up and using them for street racing.  Would people soup up and try to street race a minivan?  I don’t think so.”

“It has a sliding door, Bean.”

“It’s not a minivan!  It’s a very cool little car!”

“Excellent.  Then I think you should get it.  I’m sure all the ladies will be checking you out, in your totally sexy not-minivan.”

“You’re trying to joke, but it really is a sexy little car.  You’d look great it in it.  I think it suits you.”

“Stop trying to sell me on it, Mr. I-Used-To-Sell-Cars.  I’ll consider it, okay?  I do like the price and the seating.  It’s perfect… it’s just…. I just always promised myself I’d never drive a minivan, and I don’t care what you say.  It’s a minivan. Just… let me think about it.”

***later that day***

“So, have you thought about that one car?  That great looking 6 seater?”

“You mean the minivan?”

“It’s not a minivan.”

“Yes, it is.  Actually, I did think about it, but then I got distracted by the Nissan Cube.  HOW AWESOME IS THIS THING?  Look at it!  Look at all the window space!”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Well, actually, they don’t have a good lease on it, but I wish they did.”

“You’re kidding, right?  It’s hideous.  Nobody in their right mind could like that thing.”

“But it comes with a shag carpet toupee!  I’m dead serious – look!  For twenty-five dollars extra, you get a shag toupee to put on your dashboard.”

“You’re kidding.  Please tell me you’re joking, Becky.”

“No!  I mean, who wouldn’t want that?”

“……. This is what happens when you let women design cars.  You get asymmetrical toasters with shag toupees.”

“I swear, one of these days I’m gonna hit you with a rock.  It’s not a gender thing – it’s an awesome thing.  You’re just not awesome enough to appreciate it.”

“Yes.  I’m sure that’s what it is.”

“OMG, BEAN!  BEAN,  LOOK!  IT COMES IN ORANGE!  I COULD HAVE AN ORANGE TOUPEE-WEARING SUV.”

“…… You know, I always wondered who the heck actually bought cars like that.  Now I know.  And I’m married to one of them.”

“Whatever.  You spend all your time daydreaming about Porsches.  Will your Porsche come with a shag toupee?  No?  Well, then I pity you.”


****the next day****

“Hi, Bean.  Whatcha calling for?”

“Gooooood afternoon, Becky!  This is a complimentary call from the Mazda 5 Owners Association.  You have been pre-selected from a pool of applicants to be one of the lucky people who can drive the Mazda 5!  All you need to do is come down to your local Mazda dealership and fill out the paperwork on this sexy, zippy car with wonderful cargo space, and it’ll be yours!”

“Oh, well, lovely.  Does it come complimentary with a piece of shag carpeting for my dashboard?”

“Uh… no, but it does come with available seating for six, and it is available in a variety of beautiful colors.”

“What kind of minivan doesn’t come with shag carpeting?  What kind of ragtag organization is this?”

“Ah, well, that’s the beauty of it.  It’s not a minivan.”

“It’s a minivan, Bean.”

“This isn’t the Bean  – this is the Mazda 5 Owners Association.  And while your sexy new Mazda 5 doesn’t come with shag carpeting, we are offering a special, just for you – your new Mazda 5 will come pre-financed and will be paid for completely by the Bank of Bean – you won’t have to put down a penny.  Now tell me, can you beat a deal like that?”

“Well, no…. but on the other hand, I found another vehicle I really like – the Kia Soul?  DUDE.  HAVE YOU SEEN IT?  ITS AWESOME.  IT COMES IN ‘ALIEN GREEN’.  WHO DOESN’T WANT AN ALIEN GREEN SUV?!”

“………..”

“Their ad campaign seems to be focused on giant dancing ghetto gangster hamsters.  It’s surreal.  Bean, I want to be a part of this lifestyle.  I’m ready.  Let’s do this thing.”

He didn’t have anything to say to that – I’m thinking he was overwhelmed by how awesome and right this would be for our family.

In other news, The Bean has boring taste in cars.

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I Don’t Do It On Purpose

I don’t mean to be that lady.

Honest, I don’t.

It’s not like I plan these things out, and it’s never on purpose.  It just happens, sometimes.

It all started so innocently, too.

There I was, standing in the laundry aisle of Walmart, contemplating my laundry hamper options.  I had $200 burning a hole in my pocket, and I was trying to figure out how to stretch it as far as I could.

Oh, sure, if I were back in Orange County, $200 would have been enough to renovate the living room, the laundry room, and maybe even go out for dinner with what was left over.  That was because the weather is always sunny down there.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t miss it down there.  Heck, I don’t even miss the weather.

What I do miss are garage sales.

It turns out that garage sales are a seasonal thing up here in Portland.  I can’t say I blame everyone – who would want to drag all their stuff out to their muddy front lawn just to watch it get soggy with the rain?  It just makes sense to wait until summer time.

Still. I miss year-round garage sales.

What’s worse, without the competition from the garage sales, the prices for used items Craigslist is astronomical.

Beautiful, vintage, 1970’s sofa!  Plaid, with green and orange stripes!  Very low wear, light cat urine spraying, and only a few holes.  Cost $900 new… asking $850 obo!

I’m only joking a little bit. I did see a used, hideous, green velvet sectional sofa listed for $900 the other day, simply because it was “vintage”.

Dear people of Craigslist:  calling something “vintage” instead of “really old” does not make it worth more money.  It just makes you seem kind of cheesy.

Anyways, with no viable options on Craigslist or at the Goodwill, and with no garage sales to fall back on, I found myself wandering the aisles of Walmart, trying to see how far I could stretch my money.  I wanted to fix up our closet and laundry room, so there I stood, pondering the hampers.

This is what happens when you get old, and boring.  I used to ponder the cosmos, and eternity, and theological principles and my calling in life.

Now I ponder stuff like:

If I got a laundry sorter with a drying rack, would I still be able to afford the storage shelves for our closet, and maybe have some money left over to search for a used table?  But what if I bought the hamper and then found something really neat at Ikea and couldn’t afford it?  Maybe I should wait? 

Being a grown-up is so incredibly thrilling sometimes. 

As I stood there pondering the vast complexities of laundry hampers and closet storage units,  I leaned back and rolled my shoulders.  Ouch.  My back hurt.  I’d slept on it wrong and had forgotten to stretch it out before heading out of the house.

I could usually fix any back problems with a deep stretch – I’d mastered the art of popping my own back years ago.  But now I was in the middle of a store, and I doubt anyone wanted to see me sprawled on the cold linoleum, contorting myself until I made it pop.  I’d just have to deal with it until I got home.

Speaking of home…. Yeah.  Yeah, I should probably hold off buying anything until I checked Ikea….. but man, that was a really neat drying rack up on the top of that laundry sorter.  What if I…?

Deep in thought, I leaned back slightly, and that’s when I felt it – a narrow shelf hitting me at just the right spot below my shoulder blades.

I never consciously thought about it – it was almost a reflex. Mentally tallying the cost of my imaginary purchases, I did it without thinking –  I leaned back slightly, braced myself against the shelf, and rolled my shoulders back… and pop!pop!pop!  My back reset itself, and I straightened up with a relieved smile.

And immediately heard: POP! POP!SNAP!POP!

Leaning against the shelf had caused the lip of the shelf to dislodge from the brace holding it up.

It happened in slow motion – I tried to stop it, but it was like a horrible domino effect I was powerless to stop.

If my “Oh no… oh no… oh no!” didn’t draw enough attention, the glorious sounds of the crash certainly drew everyone’s attention, causing other shoppers to stop mid-shopping and turn their carts around to peer curiously down my aisle. 

Because with that one simple action, that one thoughtless, satisfying little crack of the back, I became known as “that lady who knocked down the entire vacuum cleaner display at Walmart.”

How Not to Roadtrip

I spent the last couple of weeks in California, visiting family.

It was great.  I have tons of pictures, got lots of time on horseback, and had a wonderful time.

Do you know what was not great?

The drive.

Specifically, the drive back.

I tried to split it up, but the second day still ended up being 15 hours.

Fifteen hours.

One Honda Civic.

Too much stuff.

A four year old who can’t sleep in the car.  He did manage to nod off for about 45 minutes once, but for the most part, when he gets sleepy, he just cries.  He has a legitimate cough right now, so I even tried drugging him with Dimetapp (don’t call CPS!  He actually needed it for the cough.)

No, he didn’t go to sleep.  He just got really sleepy, and then cried about feeling sleepy.

Add to the mix a two year old who has learned how to get out of his carseat harness.

Do you know what’s tons of fun?  Going 73 mph down the highway and looking in the rearview mirror and seeing your kid unbuckled and twisting out of his carseat.  No amount of talking, cajoling, yelling, or spanking managed to keep him in, either.  I cinched him down tight enough it should have been physically impossible for him to have circulation in his limbs, let alone wiggle out, but he still managed.

Next time I’m bringing duct tape and zip ties.

Also, we musn’t forget the 60 pound six month old puppy in the backseat.  She was the best behaved one of the bunch, but she ate something weird the night before, and had gas.

Horrible gas.

The kind of gas that eats at your nostrils and sears itself into your brain while simultaneously melting paint off the wall.

Since driving 750 miles in one day with all of that wasn’t nearly enough of a challenge for me, I decided to add something interesting to the mix.

See the zebra striped lunch bag?

This is what was inside:

Two one week old kittens – part Ragdoll.  As they age they’ll darken up to Siamese coloration (seal point.)  One’s for the Bean, and one is for a friend.

Because, honestly.  Who can say no to that face?

So, yeah.  750 miles, two kids, a puppy, two kittens that had to be bottle fed and cleaned every two hours, and 15 hours straight in the car.

Roadtrips aren’t quite as much fun as they used to be.