Five Little Things Keeping Me Going in the Face of Expensive Car Repairs

I'm living in a world of citrus-scented make-believe for the foreseeable future.

Jan 6, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

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I am having a bad week for technology.

First my laptop stopped working. Not my xoJane-supplied MacBook -- which I sort of hate because I am a giant old-school PC nerd, judge all you like -- but my beloved custom-built 18-inch-display-having monster.

It is being diagnosed by far greater geeks than I even as I write these words, and I am dreading the possibility that it will be more cost-effective to just buy a new computer. So that was deeply upsetting. 

Then I took my car in to a new mechanic, because my former mechanic has been continually ignoring my requests that he look into performing basic maintenence on my car, which is, after all, WHAT I PAY HIM FOR. In my frustration, I went back to the dealership, because my faith in local mechanic dudes has been shaken. 

Alas, the repair estimate I received yesterday was so unexpectedly obscene that when my service advisor told me the number over the phone, I literally gasped and clutched my chest and collapsed into the nearest chair. I almost FAINTED. If I had had smelling salts, I would have employed them. Even the service advisor guy seemed shocked by it. That’s how you know things were bad. 

I spent the evening feeling like someone had smashed me in the face with a brick. A really expensive brick.

So anyway, all of my favorite shit is broken and costing a billion dollars to fix, and is out of my possession at least until next week. In the meantime I am driving a tiny little loaner Honda Civic and I imagine the experience of seeing me get in and out of it is reminiscient of watching a circus clown car act, only instead of many clowns it’s just one fat lady and all of her fat smooshed into a vehicle seemingly too tiny to hold her. (If only it played calliope music as I drove, it would be PERFECT.)

Of course, it’s not all bad. At least I have the resources necessary to get my car properly fixed. And there are lots of other awesome things in my life right now that I can focus on. So I made a list. 

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1. Honeybells

What the hell is a honeybell, you ask? A honeybell is a variety of tangelo, which is a mad-scientist hybrid of a grapefruit and a tangerine. Okay, it’s an orange, basically, but it is also the Kobe beef of citrus fruits. Honeybells are only available in January and early February, which is probably one reason why I like them so much: They are SPECIAL. Of course, they don’t grow here in Boston, so I have to get a box (or two) shipped to me for my birthday every year.  

If you are very lucky, you may also find them in your local grocery store as Minneola Tangelos. Try them, and tell me they’re not delicious.

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2. “Beakman’s World”

Speaking of mad scientists, last night I discovered that the best wacky science show of my adolescent era is streaming on Netflix. I proceeded to yell about it on Twitter and get a bunch of other like-minded nerds excited. 

"Beakman’s World" -- which was always way cooler than "Bill Nye the Science Guy," sorry Bill -- aired from 1992 to 1997, and based on what I’ve re-watched in the past 24 hours, has aged surprisingly well for a 90s kids show. (You know what hasn’t aged half as well? "The X-Files." GO AHEAD AND ARGUE. You know I’m right.)

Further research has shown me that Beakman, AKA Paul Zaloom, continues to be awesome, often doing satirical things with puppets. We all know how much I love puppets, right?

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3. Wearing a big foofy crinoline for no reason at all

Though I’ve been working from home for four months now, I’ve not once fallen into the oft-cited trap of working in my pajamas. OK, one morning last week I worked in my underwear for like an hour. But in general I’ve been excellent about being dressed and presentable even when no one is likely to see me.

The fact is, I simply work better when I feel good about what I’m wearing. Because I no longer have a work environment to dress for, I can wear whatever I want. And for me, wearing a big foofy crinoline makes any day better, like I am actually a princess who also happens to write and edit things. 

I bought the turquoise confection pictured above from Domino Dollhouse, but you can find a wide range of petticoats and crinolines in lots of places online. Life is too short for your skirt not to be fluffy.

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4. Reading

All right, so last summer I wrote a whole post about loving paper books and not being a fan of e-readers. That was before I found out about library e-books and The New Yorker. I bought a Kindle last month and I kind of love it. I’m still not buying books for it (Amazon’s draconian DRM being a primary reason) but I am happy to use it to subscribe to The New Yorker and The Guardian and to get lost in the latest Murakami doorstop courtesy of the Boston Public Library. 

I’m still mostly into paper books, though. Since I have no computer and I am not about to drive around in my tinymobile all weekend, I hope to finish reading and review the ones pictured here. Jaclyn Friedman’s “What You Really Really Want” is a fantastic guide to figuring out what kind of sex you like and how to achieve it. Hanne Blank’s “Straight” is an historical analysis -- in Blank’s inimitable and accessible style -- of the concept of heterosexuality, which is a far newer idea that you might think. “The Western Lit Survival Kit” I haven’t started yet, but it looks pretty hilarious. 

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5. “Downton Abbey”

AS YOU MAY KNOW, everyone’s favorite aristocratic yarn picks up where it left off this Sunday on PBS. Check your local listings! Series two has war and heartbreak and... war and heartbreak. There’s not a lot of humor in the direction we’re headed, folks. Nor is there a tremendous committment to historical accuracy, but it wouldn’t be much of a show if it didn’t occasionally get its upstairs tangled up with its downstairs.

For the duration of series two, I’ll be writing short Monday recaps and supplying y’all with a discussion thread. In the meantime, it seems appropriate for me to take a few hours this weekend to re-watch the first series for the ten thousandth time, in preparation. The things I suffer for writing.

What is keeping you going post-holidays? Please share any further distractions for me, because I welcome them. Anything to prevent me having to drive anywhere.