missroserose: (After the Storm)
Celebration Agenda Item #1: Our Internet is back! We think. Fingers crossed. It's been two weeks of going around and around with RCN's customer service and techs, but the cryptozoological line crew finally showed up. Apparently we may or may not also have a bad wire in our house, but we now have the cell phone number of the line tech and he said to call him directly if we have any further problems. (One slightly gratifying moment: a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook tipped me off to their "executive support" customer service line, and when the crew didn't show up again despite being promised, we called the number figuring we had nothing to lose. Brian said he gave the woman our address, and heard back "Okay, I'm pulling up your account information and--oh my god." I suspect we had quite a string of notations by then.)

Celebration Agenda Item #2: We bought a car! After a harrowing winter that included a month-long daily commute to the suburbs in some of the worst weather Chicago's seen, Brian put his foot down and said we needed to get a car with four-wheel drive and better ground clearance than our little BMW sedan. I said fine, and he got to work with his exhaustive researching, and after a couple of test drives we finally settled on a Range Rover Evoque. (Which surprised the hell out of me - I'd always thought of Range Rovers as overpriced, unreliable suburban assault vehicles. But the Evoque is really well designed, has gotten great marks on reliability, and is super-nimble and crazy-fun to drive.) The question was how long it was going to be before we found one we could afford; the model line began in 2012 and were luxury crossovers to begin with, and even the early ones are still trading hands for forty-plus grand. But we found one in particular that looked too good to be true - 2013 model year, all the options we wanted (and some we didn't - hello, backseat entertainment system!), certified pre-owned with extended warranty, etc., almost in our price range, and it had been on the lot for a month and already marked down once.

We headed over to the dealership, and quickly discovered why it hadn't sold - it had "trust-fund-baby car" written all over it. White with black interior, custom black rims, black vinyl wrap on the roof, black-tinted windows with rain gutters, black-painted lettering and badges. (Given that the Evoque has a bit of a reputation as a pretty-pretty-princess car, Brian theorized that the previous owner had been going out of his way to prove that his Evoque wasn't a girl's car.) Thing is, it's actually not as awful as it sounds - the windows and wrap have obviously been done professionally, and while I think the rims are a little much, they're powder-coated rather than painted. So when the dealership offered us a price we could afford for exactly the car we wanted in great shape and not even a year old, we decided we could live with the slightly silly but good-quality detailing. Now to find a "Self-Rescuing Princess" sticker for the rear window...or maybe a license plate frame.

Celebration Agenda Item #3: I submitted my story! After revising, and copy-editing, and formatting, and all that professional stuff! True, you'd think writing it would be the hardest part, but I have a bad history of getting nearly all the way done with something and then choking on it at the last minute. (I can get why my brain would get frustrated at the prospect of revising something after working so hard to write it, but why it seems to decide "oh, man, I've got to put it in a professional format? No way, that's way too much work!", I will never understand.) Obviously I have no idea if they'll accept it - I think it's right in the arena of stuff they're looking for, but I also am not a member of the editing team and have no idea how it might or might not fit with other stories they've already got planned. Still, I really feel like I did my best on this one, and I'm proud to have submitted it, which I think is a first for me.

Tangentially related, the timing on this entertains me somewhat - if, next time I write/revise/submit a story, Brian offers to take me out to celebrate, I'm probably going to be all "Hey, last time I wrote a story you bought me a car."

So how am I going to celebrate all of these wonderful celebration worthy items? By...going to bed! And going to yoga tomorrow morning, since I missed it tonight. Goodnight, all. <3
missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
Disclaimer: I was not present for this. However, my husband called me immediately after it took place, and he's not the sort of person to embroider the truth (much). And since he's unlikely to write it up himself, I'm preserving it here for posterity.

It's always a little worrying when you get a call from your significant other that starts out with "First off, don't worry, I'm fine and the car's fine." Which isn't to say I don't appreciate the disclaimer, but you know the following story's either going to be harrowing to listen to or a bit of a letdown. In this case, it was probably the former.

According to Brian, he was in Sierra Vista, gassing up our little BMW compact sedan when a dude pulls up to the pump in front of him in a giant pickup truck with Alaska plates. (Cultural point of note which will be relevant in a minute: in Alaska, it's actually mostly women who drive these trucks - I can't tell you how often I've seen some hopped-up Dodge with a Hello Kitty or swirly-logoed "Daddy's Girl" sticker on the rear window.) Guy gets out and starts fueling.

Brian, being a friendly sort, says "Hey, you from Alaska?" The guy's all "Yeah, I got transferred to Fort Huachuca last week." So of course Brian's all "Neat. I moved from there a few years ago." The dude kind of looks over at our car and goes "Hunh. So why do you drive that faggoty-ass BMW?"

Now, for those of you who don't know Brian well, he doesn't have what you'd call a temper. He's far too mature and confident about most aspects of his life to get angry easily, or to take offense at some dipshit's provocation. But there were two factors that (I suspect) contributed to his response here - [a] he's actually fairly proud of our car, and [b] some straight lines are just too good to pass up.

He answers, perfectly calmly, "That's funny. Coming from someone who's driving a girl's truck."

Now that had me cracking up already, but it gets even better. Again, according to him, the guy sort of stood there getting red in the face while Brian unperturbedly hangs up the gas nozzle and gets in the car. But just as he starts his engine, the dude jumps into his truck and starts revving the engine as if he's going to throw it in reverse and crash into the BMW.

I don't know whether he decides against it at the last second, or just puts the truck in the wrong gear, but instead he peels out of the lot, pulling the gas hose out of the station in the process.

And promptly T-bones a police car.

Needless to say, the police were Having Some Words with him shortly thereafter. Brian asked if he needed to stick around, but they told him they were fine, so he just drove on past, leaving the dude looking like a six-year-old who'd just gotten caught microwaving the family cat.
missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
Disclaimer: I was not present for this. However, my husband called me immediately after it took place, and he's not the sort of person to embroider the truth (much). And since he's unlikely to write it up himself, I'm preserving it here for posterity.

It's always a little worrying when you get a call from your significant other that starts out with "First off, don't worry, I'm fine and the car's fine." Which isn't to say I don't appreciate the disclaimer, but you know the following story's either going to be harrowing to listen to or a bit of a letdown. In this case, it was probably the former.

According to Brian, he was in Sierra Vista, gassing up our little BMW compact sedan when a dude pulls up to the pump in front of him in a giant pickup truck with Alaska plates. (Cultural point of note which will be relevant in a minute: in Alaska, it's actually mostly women who drive these trucks - I can't tell you how often I've seen some hopped-up Dodge with a Hello Kitty or swirly-logoed "Daddy's Girl" sticker on the rear window.) Guy gets out and starts fueling.

Brian, being a friendly sort, says "Hey, you from Alaska?" The guy's all "Yeah, I got transferred to Fort Huachuca last week." So of course Brian's all "Neat. I moved from there a few years ago." The dude kind of looks over at our car and goes "Hunh. So why do you drive that faggoty-ass BMW?"

Now, for those of you who don't know Brian well, he doesn't have what you'd call a temper. He's far too mature and confident about most aspects of his life to get angry easily, or to take offense at some dipshit's provocation. But there were two factors that (I suspect) contributed to his response here - [a] he's actually fairly proud of our car, and [b] some straight lines are just too good to pass up.

He answers, perfectly calmly, "That's funny. Coming from someone who's driving a girl's truck."

Now that had me cracking up already, but it gets even better. Again, according to him, the guy sort of stood there getting red in the face while Brian unperturbedly hangs up the gas nozzle and gets in the car. But just as he starts his engine, the dude jumps into his truck and starts revving the engine as if he's going to throw it in reverse and crash into the BMW.

I don't know whether he decides against it at the last second, or just puts the truck in the wrong gear, but instead he peels out of the lot, pulling the gas hose out of the station in the process.

And promptly T-bones a police car.

Needless to say, the police were Having Some Words with him shortly thereafter. Brian asked if he needed to stick around, but they told him they were fine, so he just drove on past, leaving the dude looking like a six-year-old who'd just gotten caught microwaving the family cat.
missroserose: (After the Storm)
About a year ago, the convertible that [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano gave me finally hit the "more money than I could justify immediately spending on it" stage with regards to maintenance. Between parts and labor, it was going to need something like $1600 worth of repairs - new sensor for the speedometer, new brakes, new power steering assembly, new tie rods, probably some other things I'm not remembering. I thought about saving for it, but ended up waffling for nearly a year; I don't need a car of my own in our current job/home situation, and whenever the opportunity came up, there were other things I/we wanted to spend the money on. Rebuilding our home theater system. A nice Christmas. Brian's guitar. Visiting Alaska.

For whatever reason, what pushed me into action was the realization that, if I personally had the $1600 right now, even without Brian's feelings to consider, I would absolutely spend it on a guitar rather than fix the car. Combined with the sense of guilt for letting it sit unused for so long, I finally bit the bullet, took a picture with my phone, and posted an ad on Craigslist.

I actually got a surprising number of responses, considering that the car was damn near 20 years old, in need of serious maintenance, and I was asking $800 for it. I admit, I was a little worried it wouldn't even start after a year of sitting...but it turned right over with a jump start. (God bless Japanese engineering.) The battery was flat, but the kid I ended up selling it to didn't mind - I offered to knock the price of a battery off the purchase price, so he bought a battery, I sold him the car for $680, and we were both happy.

I admit I had my doubts about said kid at the start - he kept almost-disappearing communication-wise, and didn't come by when he said he was going to; a couple of times I was ready to write him off as another Craigslist flake. But it turned out that he was just young, combined with a tricky transportation situation and a lot of family obligations. I ended up going out to Sierra Vista to get him and his cousin (who works on cars and put the new battery in for us). It was kind of awkward socially at first; they were both a little shy and didn't say much, and I'm told that I can be intimidating, especially to young men who...er...have yet to really get their lives together. But after a few failed conversational gambits, I pulled out my ice-breaker trump card: "What's your biggest pet peeve?" The kid's cousin actually came up with one that I'd never heard before, but I could totally see: "The sound someone's teeth make when they scrape against a fork." And after that things were a little easier. Which I was glad for, since I discovered that you have to sign the title in the presence of a notary in Arizona, and finding one was something of a mini-adventure all its own.

Anyway, it's done now, and while I'm not sorry about it (and I'm especially pleased that it was over relatively quickly - my previous experience with selling an older car was a much more drawn-out and annoying occurrence), I admit to a certain amount of wistfulness. She was far from a perfect car, but she was the convertible that I asked for and that someone special to me gave me at a time when I was feeling very alone and isolated, and I had a lot of good times driving her around. But, as said friend pointed out when I texted him saying I was going to miss the car, "She'll make a beautiful guitar."

After all of that, I was almost ready to throw in the towel for the day, but I'd promised Allison (one of my new coworkers who unfortunately quit early on due to family problems - really a shame, as she was an excellent worker in addition to our getting on well) cocktails and a movie. As it turned out, she wasn't even able to come over until later that evening, so I had time for a shower and a nap, after which I felt far more human. And I'm glad I didn't cancel - we had a fantastic time watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and having appropriately candy-colored cocktails, and on the whole it ended up being a net positive energy-wise. (Social situations are often hit-and-miss for me, depending on the people involved in my mood...I guess that's why I always score right in the middle on those introvert/extrovert tests.) And while we were waiting for her husband to come pick her up, she asked me to play something on my guitar, and since I was slightly tipsy, I played her the one (very simple) song I can actually sort of play decently. And rather than saying "Oh, that's a really easy song" or "You've been practicing that for a month now, why can't you play it perfectly?" she actually cheered and seemed really impressed.

It was a nice reminder that not everyone lives inside my head.
missroserose: (After the Storm)
About a year ago, the convertible that [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano gave me finally hit the "more money than I could justify immediately spending on it" stage with regards to maintenance. Between parts and labor, it was going to need something like $1600 worth of repairs - new sensor for the speedometer, new brakes, new power steering assembly, new tie rods, probably some other things I'm not remembering. I thought about saving for it, but ended up waffling for nearly a year; I don't need a car of my own in our current job/home situation, and whenever the opportunity came up, there were other things I/we wanted to spend the money on. Rebuilding our home theater system. A nice Christmas. Brian's guitar. Visiting Alaska.

For whatever reason, what pushed me into action was the realization that, if I personally had the $1600 right now, even without Brian's feelings to consider, I would absolutely spend it on a guitar rather than fix the car. Combined with the sense of guilt for letting it sit unused for so long, I finally bit the bullet, took a picture with my phone, and posted an ad on Craigslist.

I actually got a surprising number of responses, considering that the car was damn near 20 years old, in need of serious maintenance, and I was asking $800 for it. I admit, I was a little worried it wouldn't even start after a year of sitting...but it turned right over with a jump start. (God bless Japanese engineering.) The battery was flat, but the kid I ended up selling it to didn't mind - I offered to knock the price of a battery off the purchase price, so he bought a battery, I sold him the car for $680, and we were both happy.

I admit I had my doubts about said kid at the start - he kept almost-disappearing communication-wise, and didn't come by when he said he was going to; a couple of times I was ready to write him off as another Craigslist flake. But it turned out that he was just young, combined with a tricky transportation situation and a lot of family obligations. I ended up going out to Sierra Vista to get him and his cousin (who works on cars and put the new battery in for us). It was kind of awkward socially at first; they were both a little shy and didn't say much, and I'm told that I can be intimidating, especially to young men who...er...have yet to really get their lives together. But after a few failed conversational gambits, I pulled out my ice-breaker trump card: "What's your biggest pet peeve?" The kid's cousin actually came up with one that I'd never heard before, but I could totally see: "The sound someone's teeth make when they scrape against a fork." And after that things were a little easier. Which I was glad for, since I discovered that you have to sign the title in the presence of a notary in Arizona, and finding one was something of a mini-adventure all its own.

Anyway, it's done now, and while I'm not sorry about it (and I'm especially pleased that it was over relatively quickly - my previous experience with selling an older car was a much more drawn-out and annoying occurrence), I admit to a certain amount of wistfulness. She was far from a perfect car, but she was the convertible that I asked for and that someone special to me gave me at a time when I was feeling very alone and isolated, and I had a lot of good times driving her around. But, as said friend pointed out when I texted him saying I was going to miss the car, "She'll make a beautiful guitar."

After all of that, I was almost ready to throw in the towel for the day, but I'd promised Allison (one of my new coworkers who unfortunately quit early on due to family problems - really a shame, as she was an excellent worker in addition to our getting on well) cocktails and a movie. As it turned out, she wasn't even able to come over until later that evening, so I had time for a shower and a nap, after which I felt far more human. And I'm glad I didn't cancel - we had a fantastic time watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and having appropriately candy-colored cocktails, and on the whole it ended up being a net positive energy-wise. (Social situations are often hit-and-miss for me, depending on the people involved in my mood...I guess that's why I always score right in the middle on those introvert/extrovert tests.) And while we were waiting for her husband to come pick her up, she asked me to play something on my guitar, and since I was slightly tipsy, I played her the one (very simple) song I can actually sort of play decently. And rather than saying "Oh, that's a really easy song" or "You've been practicing that for a month now, why can't you play it perfectly?" she actually cheered and seemed really impressed.

It was a nice reminder that not everyone lives inside my head.
missroserose: (Raawr!)
"Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"

Everyone gets to whine a bit in their LJ now and then. I try to keep mine to a minimum, but I'm invoking the privilege now. The reader may consider themselves warned.

So it appears that the $500 bill fairies are particularly attracted to us this year. There's been the $500 loss to our jerk former landlord - I thought about taking him to court over it, but when I looked at the time and effort it would take it just wasn't worth it. Which pisses me off all over again, since that's probably exactly why he did it, but.

Then there's the most recent disaster, which has a bit of an ironic component to it. See, I'd gotten my most recent paycheck last Friday, which came out to all of $50 (Cristina had been out of town a lot so I hadn't been working much). Since it wasn't enough to make a big difference to our budget, I thought I'd treat myself and drive out to Tucson to get my hair done again on Tuesday. But when Tuesday rolled around, I had second thoughts - it was a lot to be spending on gas, and maybe we should save the $50 for other stuff. So instead of dropping Brian off at work, he took the car and I stayed home and puttered about the house.

Surprise, someone proceeded to back into the side of our car while it was parked. No note or insurance information left, just a nasty dent in the door, a bunch of scrapes of paint, and a piece of broken taillight. The police are investigating (and that alone surprises me, I sort of figured hit-and-runs were about on par with stolen laptops in terms of priorities) but I doubt anything will come of it, as there's no proof and they don't even have much of a starting point. So my self-restraint and sense of fiscal responsibility were rewarded by having to shell out ten times the amount saved for our insurance deductible, plus being without a car for a week. And on top of all that Brian's been grouchy about it for two days now, which is making me grouchy about it.

I know that shit happens, and I know that all of this is temporary, and I know I should just be grateful that we have the means to deal with it all. But that doesn't mean I don't hate it when people are dicks. Especially when I'm the one who has to deal with the fallout, and especially-especially during a time of year when people are supposed to be especially excellent to each other. I like to think that I'm pretty good at treating others well. Hell, Brian and I even donated a chunk of our gift budget to Heifer International this year. So when do we get the good karma thing going again?

ETA: Whiny as all that sounds, I feel better now that I've gotten it off my chest. And then I read this (specifically, the bit about the Stardust ARC), and a bit of my faith in humanity was restored. It's good to know that some people out there are still excellent, even above-and-beyond the call of excellent-ness.
missroserose: (Raawr!)
"Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"

Everyone gets to whine a bit in their LJ now and then. I try to keep mine to a minimum, but I'm invoking the privilege now. The reader may consider themselves warned.

So it appears that the $500 bill fairies are particularly attracted to us this year. There's been the $500 loss to our jerk former landlord - I thought about taking him to court over it, but when I looked at the time and effort it would take it just wasn't worth it. Which pisses me off all over again, since that's probably exactly why he did it, but.

Then there's the most recent disaster, which has a bit of an ironic component to it. See, I'd gotten my most recent paycheck last Friday, which came out to all of $50 (Cristina had been out of town a lot so I hadn't been working much). Since it wasn't enough to make a big difference to our budget, I thought I'd treat myself and drive out to Tucson to get my hair done again on Tuesday. But when Tuesday rolled around, I had second thoughts - it was a lot to be spending on gas, and maybe we should save the $50 for other stuff. So instead of dropping Brian off at work, he took the car and I stayed home and puttered about the house.

Surprise, someone proceeded to back into the side of our car while it was parked. No note or insurance information left, just a nasty dent in the door, a bunch of scrapes of paint, and a piece of broken taillight. The police are investigating (and that alone surprises me, I sort of figured hit-and-runs were about on par with stolen laptops in terms of priorities) but I doubt anything will come of it, as there's no proof and they don't even have much of a starting point. So my self-restraint and sense of fiscal responsibility were rewarded by having to shell out ten times the amount saved for our insurance deductible, plus being without a car for a week. And on top of all that Brian's been grouchy about it for two days now, which is making me grouchy about it.

I know that shit happens, and I know that all of this is temporary, and I know I should just be grateful that we have the means to deal with it all. But that doesn't mean I don't hate it when people are dicks. Especially when I'm the one who has to deal with the fallout, and especially-especially during a time of year when people are supposed to be especially excellent to each other. I like to think that I'm pretty good at treating others well. Hell, Brian and I even donated a chunk of our gift budget to Heifer International this year. So when do we get the good karma thing going again?

ETA: Whiny as all that sounds, I feel better now that I've gotten it off my chest. And then I read this (specifically, the bit about the Stardust ARC), and a bit of my faith in humanity was restored. It's good to know that some people out there are still excellent, even above-and-beyond the call of excellent-ness.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Depressing start to day: Discovering that the rear brake pads to your expensive German car, which you've been putting off replacing because the dealership quoted you $675, have to be replaced pretty much now, when almost all your funds are tied up in moving.

Slightly less depressing start to day: Calling your local mechanic (who won't touch anything relating to the computer systems in said expensive German car) and having him say sure, he can do the brakes without a problem.

Slightly more depressing, then significantly happier continuation of day: Getting a call from the mechanic saying that unfortunately, the front brake pads need replacing too...and the total cost for all four will be $355.

Even better finish to the day: Having the mechanic call to let you know the car's all ready to be picked up, and going to pick it up and finding something missing...specifically, the coating of dirt on the inside and outside of the car, up to and including hubcaps and tires washed, car vacuumed, and dashboard controls Armor-Alled ("I figured it was one less thing you'd have to do while you were moving...")

Incidentally? If you live in the Sierra Vista, I can't recommend Dan at Auto Logic enough. Seriously. We're moving 30-odd miles away, and I'm sure as heck still going to make the drive to come back.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Depressing start to day: Discovering that the rear brake pads to your expensive German car, which you've been putting off replacing because the dealership quoted you $675, have to be replaced pretty much now, when almost all your funds are tied up in moving.

Slightly less depressing start to day: Calling your local mechanic (who won't touch anything relating to the computer systems in said expensive German car) and having him say sure, he can do the brakes without a problem.

Slightly more depressing, then significantly happier continuation of day: Getting a call from the mechanic saying that unfortunately, the front brake pads need replacing too...and the total cost for all four will be $355.

Even better finish to the day: Having the mechanic call to let you know the car's all ready to be picked up, and going to pick it up and finding something missing...specifically, the coating of dirt on the inside and outside of the car, up to and including hubcaps and tires washed, car vacuumed, and dashboard controls Armor-Alled ("I figured it was one less thing you'd have to do while you were moving...")

Incidentally? If you live in the Sierra Vista, I can't recommend Dan at Auto Logic enough. Seriously. We're moving 30-odd miles away, and I'm sure as heck still going to make the drive to come back.
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
Monday morning Brian woke up with gastrointestinal ick. I've been taking care of him and hoping against hope I don't catch it myself. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

Meantime, aside from the aforementioned caretaking, I did almost nothing productive yesterday. And much as I enjoy the occasional day that consists of nothing but lying around in bed, I start to feel grouchy after too much of it. So I decided that today would be better. And lo and behold, it has been:

--I got some housework done, including cleaning the kitchen and deadheading our rosebushes.

--I balanced our accounts and brought them up-to-date in our records.

--I went down to Sprawl-Mart and spent part of my first paycheck on stuff for my convertible. Specifically, a set of seat covers (because the fabric on the seats was getting worn), a matching steering wheel cover (because the leather on the steering wheel was wearing through), and a CD visor (because it was part of the box set and I figured it'd come in useful). So now my car has big purple flowers all over it. I just need something purple and vaguely flower-ish to hang from the rearview mirror...maybe I'll find a crystal or something next time I'm in Bisbee.

--Also, I bought new speakers, which I even managed to install myself! The system still sounds a bit tinny, which could be due to the deck being wired to the pre-amp-out instead of the regular output (checking that's next on the list), or just the fact that it's not a high-fidelity system, but it's much, much better than the Altoids-tin sound that the battered (and seventeen-year-old) stock speakers were putting out. Plus, the driver's side speaker no longer rattles when the bass fires! Go me.

--I made good on a debt to Adam and cleaned out his Subaru Baja, which hadn't happened in, oh...I think the two-and-a-half years since he left Alaska. It's a nice car, too, so it was rewarding to realize that again once I got all the caked-on crap off of his center console. Not to mention Resolve-ing the stains out of the carpet, vacuuming the whole thing, cleaning the windows/mirrors, and Armor-Alling the dashboard. I do good cleaning, if I do say so myself.

And now for the real challenge - can I actually write something tomorrow like I've planned? Stay tuned.
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
Monday morning Brian woke up with gastrointestinal ick. I've been taking care of him and hoping against hope I don't catch it myself. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

Meantime, aside from the aforementioned caretaking, I did almost nothing productive yesterday. And much as I enjoy the occasional day that consists of nothing but lying around in bed, I start to feel grouchy after too much of it. So I decided that today would be better. And lo and behold, it has been:

--I got some housework done, including cleaning the kitchen and deadheading our rosebushes.

--I balanced our accounts and brought them up-to-date in our records.

--I went down to Sprawl-Mart and spent part of my first paycheck on stuff for my convertible. Specifically, a set of seat covers (because the fabric on the seats was getting worn), a matching steering wheel cover (because the leather on the steering wheel was wearing through), and a CD visor (because it was part of the box set and I figured it'd come in useful). So now my car has big purple flowers all over it. I just need something purple and vaguely flower-ish to hang from the rearview mirror...maybe I'll find a crystal or something next time I'm in Bisbee.

--Also, I bought new speakers, which I even managed to install myself! The system still sounds a bit tinny, which could be due to the deck being wired to the pre-amp-out instead of the regular output (checking that's next on the list), or just the fact that it's not a high-fidelity system, but it's much, much better than the Altoids-tin sound that the battered (and seventeen-year-old) stock speakers were putting out. Plus, the driver's side speaker no longer rattles when the bass fires! Go me.

--I made good on a debt to Adam and cleaned out his Subaru Baja, which hadn't happened in, oh...I think the two-and-a-half years since he left Alaska. It's a nice car, too, so it was rewarding to realize that again once I got all the caked-on crap off of his center console. Not to mention Resolve-ing the stains out of the carpet, vacuuming the whole thing, cleaning the windows/mirrors, and Armor-Alling the dashboard. I do good cleaning, if I do say so myself.

And now for the real challenge - can I actually write something tomorrow like I've planned? Stay tuned.
missroserose: (Default)
Off to go learn how to drive stick.

Wish me luck, and hope that I don't leave the transmission of our shiny new BMW on the ground.
missroserose: (Default)
Off to go learn how to drive stick.

Wish me luck, and hope that I don't leave the transmission of our shiny new BMW on the ground.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Forgot to mention this earlier - one of the things Brian and I were sort of steeling ourselves for when we bought the BMW was the insurance bump. Our rates have gone down significantly since we got married and both passed 25, but we were going from a car worth (maybe) eight or nine grand to one worth closer to twenty, so we figured we'd be shelling out another couple hundred for six months' coverage. So it was with some trepidation that I went to Progressive's website yesterday morning and punched up an insurance change.

$37.

I've gotta say, as surprises go, I'll take one like that anytime.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Forgot to mention this earlier - one of the things Brian and I were sort of steeling ourselves for when we bought the BMW was the insurance bump. Our rates have gone down significantly since we got married and both passed 25, but we were going from a car worth (maybe) eight or nine grand to one worth closer to twenty, so we figured we'd be shelling out another couple hundred for six months' coverage. So it was with some trepidation that I went to Progressive's website yesterday morning and punched up an insurance change.

$37.

I've gotta say, as surprises go, I'll take one like that anytime.
missroserose: (Really now?)
...but first, I wanted to describe something funny I saw earlier. We were on our way to the bank to finalize some loan paperwork, and standing across the street were a couple of dudes protesting - one had a shirt with Obama's picture on it captioned "Dictator for Life" (which really makes me think he doesn't understand any of those three words, but whatever), and one had an anti-health care reform sign. Anyway, we went inside, and when we came back out, there was an elderly black lady with a walker standing next to them. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but she was gesticulating pretty strongly, and the two dudes were looking distinctly uncomfortable. Ah, the joys of freedom of speech. It goes both ways, folks.

As those of you who follow either my Facebook page or Brian's blog probably have figured out, a confluence of factors inspired us to go new-used-car shopping.  It wasn't the best time to do so financially (we were upside-down on the loan for the Audi, and didn't have a lot of liquid assets for a down payment), but the negatives of keeping said Audi were starting to stack up: it was coming up on some pretty serious maintenance at the 100K mark, and as we've already discovered several times, maintenance on that car was significantly more expensive than on less esoteric models.  Plus, we don't have to worry about ploughing through snow berms anymore, and it only gets about 15 mpg with all the city driving we do around here.  Ouch.  

Since a goodly percentage of the used cars in Arizona seem to be located in Phoenix, we decided to drive up there over the weekend to try some of them out.  It's about a three-hour drive from Sierra Vista, not bad when you're doing an overnight trip (although our hotel experience wasn't as restful as we'd hoped), and that gave us plenty of time to test-drive the several cars Brian was interested in.

I won't bother posting a rundown of everything we tried, especially since Brian already did a far more detailed one than I would. I will, however, state for the record that Phoenix was far nicer than I thought it would be. I'd heard it referred to in the media as aiming to be "the Los Angeles of the Sonoran Desert", which seemed to me to be rather an odd goal, given that the one good thing about Los Angeles was the beaches, which they're simply not going to have here. But on the whole, I'd say it was rather nicer - I was actually able to differentiate between the neighborhoods, and it didn't feel quite as hugely overcrowded and barren of human kindness and charity as LA did. Admittedly, I might be responding more positively to Phoenix because we had a GPS device, which were far less common in early 2004 when I visited Los Angeles, which is a nightmare for anyone like me with a poor sense of direction and a phobia of getting lost - see above re: undifferentiated neighborhoods. Also, we weren't there in midsummer, which probably has something to do with our generally positive experiences as well.

(Note to [livejournal.com profile] tygenco_x: sorry we didn't let you know we were in town, but almost all of our time was taken up by test-driving cars, eating, and sleeping - plus it was sort of last-minute. We'll be back at some point, though, so I promise we'll get that lunch date in sooner or later.)

Ultimately, we found a pretty good deal on a 2006 BMW 330i, which I love because it's slightly smaller than and gets half again the gas mileage of the Audi, and Brian loves because it's got a really impressive engine, and we both love because it was one of maybe three in the Arizona area that has heated seats. (I completely understand why most people don't bother with them in the desert, but they're rather nice on chilly mornings, and we're kind of spoiled on them.) Additionally, it has one of the few sound systems I've come across that actually is slightly more impressive than the one in the Audi, and Brian says - it's a stick shift, which I still need to learn - that it drives like a dream. Even from the passenger seat I can say that the ride is a really nice balance between sporty and smooth. Plus the sport seats have adjustable side bolsters, which I dig way more than might be reasonably expected. And (quite importantly, as we've learned) it's a fairly common model of car with no turbochargers and an engine that's supposed to be dead easy to work on, so it shouldn't be too expensive to maintain.

On the whole, though, I'd say what thrills me most about it is how happy it makes Brian. He's wanted a BMW for a long time, and finally being able to afford one makes him pretty seriously happy. (Sign #348 that he's a good husband: He was feeling a bit self-conscious, parking it next to the beat-up little del Sol that [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano gave me. "Don't you think people might think that your husband's a controlling jackass who won't let you have a nice car?" I laughed and assured him that I would tell people I was perfectly happy with the del Sol, because it was a convertible and because it was free. I'm sure eventually we'll be able to get me a nicer car too, but for right now I think the del Sol's perfect for me. Plus, it was free.)

The other important discovery we made on our trip (aside from "don't stay at the Bell Road Red Roof Inn until they fix their wireless service and mattresses") came in the form of an Irish-style pub in the university district of Tempe that went by the name of Rúla Búla. See, when Brian and I first started dating more than five years ago (eep!), we used to go to a place called Doc Water's in Juneau. While not an Irish pub per se, it had a similar atmosphere, as well as the best burgers and fish 'n chips either of us had ever experienced. Sadly, a year or so later they came under new ownership, and the food went rather downhill. Eventually they closed, but ever since then Brian's been on a quest to find a place that makes a burger as good as Doc's did in their heyday. And after sampling many a burger at many a restaurant (ranging from greasy spoons to some quite nice places), we finally found it. Bonus - their fish 'n chips are equally excellent as well, and they make a fantastic lamb stew. Plus, they're an Irish-style pub, so they have both Guinness and Smithwick's on tap. Highly recommended to anybody who might be in the area.

On a more personal note, I'm working on making friends with a girl I met via Craigslist (believe it or not) - her name's Liz, and while we come from rather different backgrounds, so far the chemistry's been pretty good. (And she's cute!) She's coming over for corned beef tonight, so here's hoping things continue to go well - she seems pretty neat and it's nice to have someone other than Brian to chat with.

Also, happy St. Patrick's day to the Irish, non-Irish and wannabe-Irish in the crowd. :)
missroserose: (Really now?)
...but first, I wanted to describe something funny I saw earlier. We were on our way to the bank to finalize some loan paperwork, and standing across the street were a couple of dudes protesting - one had a shirt with Obama's picture on it captioned "Dictator for Life" (which really makes me think he doesn't understand any of those three words, but whatever), and one had an anti-health care reform sign. Anyway, we went inside, and when we came back out, there was an elderly black lady with a walker standing next to them. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but she was gesticulating pretty strongly, and the two dudes were looking distinctly uncomfortable. Ah, the joys of freedom of speech. It goes both ways, folks.

As those of you who follow either my Facebook page or Brian's blog probably have figured out, a confluence of factors inspired us to go new-used-car shopping.  It wasn't the best time to do so financially (we were upside-down on the loan for the Audi, and didn't have a lot of liquid assets for a down payment), but the negatives of keeping said Audi were starting to stack up: it was coming up on some pretty serious maintenance at the 100K mark, and as we've already discovered several times, maintenance on that car was significantly more expensive than on less esoteric models.  Plus, we don't have to worry about ploughing through snow berms anymore, and it only gets about 15 mpg with all the city driving we do around here.  Ouch.  

Since a goodly percentage of the used cars in Arizona seem to be located in Phoenix, we decided to drive up there over the weekend to try some of them out.  It's about a three-hour drive from Sierra Vista, not bad when you're doing an overnight trip (although our hotel experience wasn't as restful as we'd hoped), and that gave us plenty of time to test-drive the several cars Brian was interested in.

I won't bother posting a rundown of everything we tried, especially since Brian already did a far more detailed one than I would. I will, however, state for the record that Phoenix was far nicer than I thought it would be. I'd heard it referred to in the media as aiming to be "the Los Angeles of the Sonoran Desert", which seemed to me to be rather an odd goal, given that the one good thing about Los Angeles was the beaches, which they're simply not going to have here. But on the whole, I'd say it was rather nicer - I was actually able to differentiate between the neighborhoods, and it didn't feel quite as hugely overcrowded and barren of human kindness and charity as LA did. Admittedly, I might be responding more positively to Phoenix because we had a GPS device, which were far less common in early 2004 when I visited Los Angeles, which is a nightmare for anyone like me with a poor sense of direction and a phobia of getting lost - see above re: undifferentiated neighborhoods. Also, we weren't there in midsummer, which probably has something to do with our generally positive experiences as well.

(Note to [livejournal.com profile] tygenco_x: sorry we didn't let you know we were in town, but almost all of our time was taken up by test-driving cars, eating, and sleeping - plus it was sort of last-minute. We'll be back at some point, though, so I promise we'll get that lunch date in sooner or later.)

Ultimately, we found a pretty good deal on a 2006 BMW 330i, which I love because it's slightly smaller than and gets half again the gas mileage of the Audi, and Brian loves because it's got a really impressive engine, and we both love because it was one of maybe three in the Arizona area that has heated seats. (I completely understand why most people don't bother with them in the desert, but they're rather nice on chilly mornings, and we're kind of spoiled on them.) Additionally, it has one of the few sound systems I've come across that actually is slightly more impressive than the one in the Audi, and Brian says - it's a stick shift, which I still need to learn - that it drives like a dream. Even from the passenger seat I can say that the ride is a really nice balance between sporty and smooth. Plus the sport seats have adjustable side bolsters, which I dig way more than might be reasonably expected. And (quite importantly, as we've learned) it's a fairly common model of car with no turbochargers and an engine that's supposed to be dead easy to work on, so it shouldn't be too expensive to maintain.

On the whole, though, I'd say what thrills me most about it is how happy it makes Brian. He's wanted a BMW for a long time, and finally being able to afford one makes him pretty seriously happy. (Sign #348 that he's a good husband: He was feeling a bit self-conscious, parking it next to the beat-up little del Sol that [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano gave me. "Don't you think people might think that your husband's a controlling jackass who won't let you have a nice car?" I laughed and assured him that I would tell people I was perfectly happy with the del Sol, because it was a convertible and because it was free. I'm sure eventually we'll be able to get me a nicer car too, but for right now I think the del Sol's perfect for me. Plus, it was free.)

The other important discovery we made on our trip (aside from "don't stay at the Bell Road Red Roof Inn until they fix their wireless service and mattresses") came in the form of an Irish-style pub in the university district of Tempe that went by the name of Rúla Búla. See, when Brian and I first started dating more than five years ago (eep!), we used to go to a place called Doc Water's in Juneau. While not an Irish pub per se, it had a similar atmosphere, as well as the best burgers and fish 'n chips either of us had ever experienced. Sadly, a year or so later they came under new ownership, and the food went rather downhill. Eventually they closed, but ever since then Brian's been on a quest to find a place that makes a burger as good as Doc's did in their heyday. And after sampling many a burger at many a restaurant (ranging from greasy spoons to some quite nice places), we finally found it. Bonus - their fish 'n chips are equally excellent as well, and they make a fantastic lamb stew. Plus, they're an Irish-style pub, so they have both Guinness and Smithwick's on tap. Highly recommended to anybody who might be in the area.

On a more personal note, I'm working on making friends with a girl I met via Craigslist (believe it or not) - her name's Liz, and while we come from rather different backgrounds, so far the chemistry's been pretty good. (And she's cute!) She's coming over for corned beef tonight, so here's hoping things continue to go well - she seems pretty neat and it's nice to have someone other than Brian to chat with.

Also, happy St. Patrick's day to the Irish, non-Irish and wannabe-Irish in the crowd. :)
missroserose: (Default)
So it seems my longtime friend [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano is moving to Michigan, and rather than bring Nauti, his white 1993 Honda del Sol with him to brave the winters there, or sell it to the (no doubt) large local tuner community, it struck him that he knew this chick in Arizona who was obsessed with finding an inexpensive topless car. So for whatever reason, he decided that the best option was to load it up into a trailer and drive miles out of his way to bring it to her, even though she couldn't afford to pay him for it and get it the maintenance it needed. This is because he is either an amazing friend or a little soft in the head...and considering that he owned a car with a removable top in California for nigh on a decade and didn't remove the top once? I'm going to go with a bit of both. (But we love him for it just the same.)

She's not exactly pretty, what with being a combination of primer-black, Bondo beige and several different shades of faded white, not to mention fairly dented and scarred from her long life. But! Her interior's in good shape, her top comes off just fine (insert obligatory stripper joke here), and the drive train's still running well at 189,000 miles (as well it should, being essentially a Civic). She needs a new timing belt, thermostat, and some brake work, but that's all pretty standard maintenance. The biggest issue stems from a previous accident - the interior of the hood is warped and the both the radiator and A/C condenser are twisted. Amazingly, the radiator still works, but if it goes for whatever reason, a new one won't fit without some serious body work. So I'm probably not going to invest a lot in cosmetic stuff like repainting. But considering the radiator's been like that for years now and it still runs fine, I think I can justify spending the money on the maintenance - chances are she's got another year or three left in her, and for a free car (plus an eventual grand in repairs, give or take) that's not bad at all.

One of the nice side benefits of the new car delivery was getting to host Cyrano and his traveling partner Amanda for a few days. They were excellent guests, and good company; Saturday night we had a couple of Cyrano's old friends who live in Bisbee over for a game night. I can't even express how starved I've been for socializing, and it was all great fun - I even got to mix a few drinks! I hope we'll get to see them again. Sunday night our houseguests earned extra brownie points by taking us to a lovely dinner at Feast, and I learned that no matter how lovely and full and sleepy you feel at the end of a meal, taking a shot of espresso with dessert with the intention of going to bed not long afterwards does not make for restful sleep. Coffee, yes; espresso, no.

And now, because I'm starting to ramble from sleep deprivation, I leave you with a song.

missroserose: (Default)
So it seems my longtime friend [livejournal.com profile] cyranocyrano is moving to Michigan, and rather than bring Nauti, his white 1993 Honda del Sol with him to brave the winters there, or sell it to the (no doubt) large local tuner community, it struck him that he knew this chick in Arizona who was obsessed with finding an inexpensive topless car. So for whatever reason, he decided that the best option was to load it up into a trailer and drive miles out of his way to bring it to her, even though she couldn't afford to pay him for it and get it the maintenance it needed. This is because he is either an amazing friend or a little soft in the head...and considering that he owned a car with a removable top in California for nigh on a decade and didn't remove the top once? I'm going to go with a bit of both. (But we love him for it just the same.)

She's not exactly pretty, what with being a combination of primer-black, Bondo beige and several different shades of faded white, not to mention fairly dented and scarred from her long life. But! Her interior's in good shape, her top comes off just fine (insert obligatory stripper joke here), and the drive train's still running well at 189,000 miles (as well it should, being essentially a Civic). She needs a new timing belt, thermostat, and some brake work, but that's all pretty standard maintenance. The biggest issue stems from a previous accident - the interior of the hood is warped and the both the radiator and A/C condenser are twisted. Amazingly, the radiator still works, but if it goes for whatever reason, a new one won't fit without some serious body work. So I'm probably not going to invest a lot in cosmetic stuff like repainting. But considering the radiator's been like that for years now and it still runs fine, I think I can justify spending the money on the maintenance - chances are she's got another year or three left in her, and for a free car (plus an eventual grand in repairs, give or take) that's not bad at all.

One of the nice side benefits of the new car delivery was getting to host Cyrano and his traveling partner Amanda for a few days. They were excellent guests, and good company; Saturday night we had a couple of Cyrano's old friends who live in Bisbee over for a game night. I can't even express how starved I've been for socializing, and it was all great fun - I even got to mix a few drinks! I hope we'll get to see them again. Sunday night our houseguests earned extra brownie points by taking us to a lovely dinner at Feast, and I learned that no matter how lovely and full and sleepy you feel at the end of a meal, taking a shot of espresso with dessert with the intention of going to bed not long afterwards does not make for restful sleep. Coffee, yes; espresso, no.

And now, because I'm starting to ramble from sleep deprivation, I leave you with a song.

missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
We made it to Sierra Vista in one piece.  The travel went smoothly enough, but it was hard to enjoy because I had a big knot in my chest from listnening to Dexter yowl, scratch, and generally go nuts the entire way.  Two 2.5-hour flights, a 1.5 hour layover, and a 1.5 hour car ride.  I'm surprised the poor guy wasn't hoarse.  (Leo, on the other hand, was remarkably chill - I guess either the Valium helped, or he was just too plain terrified to do his usual mental-patient-throwing-himself-against-the-walls-of-the-carrier routine.)  We got them here eventually, and they proceeded to spend the entire night making as much noise as felinely possible so that we knew exactly how unimpressed they were with air travel/car rides/Arizona/the new digs/the narrow windowsills/moving in general.  Needless to say, we didn't get a whole lot of sleep, although it was worse for Brian than me, as he had to start his new job the next day.

One day later, Dexter's pretty much calmed down and seems happy enough exploring the new place.  Leo, however, has found a hiding place where we can't find him, which worries us some.  We know he's got to be around, though - he hasn't gotten outside and I saw him dashing between rooms briefly earlier this evening - so if he needs to be an invisible cat for a while until he's more comfortable with the new place, I guess I can understand that.  There have certainly been a couple of times I'd have liked to curl up where no one else could find me.

ETA:  Found him - there's a hole in the inside part of the wall where the plumbing from one of the bathroom sinks goes in, just big enough for a cat to jump through.  We'll have to find some way to patch it.

Incidentally, I'd forgotten exactly how bloody expensive it is to (re)stock a household - we've spent more than a grand on just basic items like bedding and cookware and cleaning supplies and dishes, and we haven't even begun to look for furniture yet.  I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of Craigslisting in our near future.  (Still cheaper than the seven grand it would've been to ship everything, though.)  Many thanks go once more to the lovely guests at our housecooling party - their generosity made the process much less painful than it could have been.

We rented a car for a couple of weeks until the Audi makes it here.  The guy was going to give us a Chevy Aveo but offered us a discount on an upgrade to a new Mustang, which we decided to take - although more because Aveos are crappy cars than for any love of the Mustang (we test-drove a 2006 a few years ago and were extremely unimpressed with the build quality, noisy ride, sound system, and various other non-features).  It ended up being well worth the extra expense, however, because the 2010 Mustang is like the 2006 one built by Japanese engineers - still a lot of the same aggressive American styling cues, but much nicer materials, a far quieter engine, surprisingly good soundproofing, a much nicer stereo system, a cool retro-look interior design, and generally a much higher standard of build quality.  I'd heard rumours that Ford was trying to clean up its act with regards to its passenger cars, but I hadn't realized exactly how stark the difference was - I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really enjoying driving it.  It's just the basic hardtop V6 model, but I'd easily recommend anyone looking for a midsize car to give it a look - it's nice and roomy (the backseat is decent-sized for all it's a coupe), the engine's got plenty of power, and the styling's a lot more interesting than (say) the comparably priced Chrysler Sebring (to say nothing of the Sebring's myriad other faults).

Sierra Vista itself has yet to really convince me that it's a place we're going to want to stay for very long.  Admittedly, it's only been a day, but the various message boards I was reading weren't kidding - this place is like Strip Mall/Big Box World.  I guess when you don't have to build slanted roofs to deal with snow/rain, a box is the most efficient shape for a building, but yeesh - talk about blandness in architecture.  Even the place we're renting, which is quite nice on the inside, isn't much to look at, just...boxy.  The real question will be the people, I think - places to live are all well and good, but friends are what make them worth staying in, interesting architecture or no.  So we'll give it time...we're here for a year, and if we're unimpressed at the end of it, there's nothing stopping us from packing everything into a U-Haul and heading someplace else.

I really miss Juneau right now.

Oh, and one last thing - all of you whom I've been telling about the 72 degree sunny weather?  It's all lies.  Today was about fifty degrees and windy, and supposedly it's going to get down to 28 tonight.  They say it's a cold front moving over the entire Western US, and that it's blizzarding in Wyoming and Colorado right now, but I see through their claims - the whole "come to the desert for the nice winter weather" thing is one big joke meant to lure unsuspecting northerners down here.  Don't be fooled!

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