Thursday, February 28, 2008

Car Shopping And Numbers: The Culmination Of the Things I Hate Most

Here are some things I dislike:

*being pushed into something
*numbers of any kind
*being treated like I'm stupid or helpless because I'm female
*not being taken seriously because I'm female
*not having people deal with me when I'm the person to whom they should be speaking
*being told one thing when I'm fairly certain another is true
*when my saying "no" is taken as a challenge

Last night at Ford Lincoln Mercury sale (which I attended because I got a thingy in the mail and won three prizes... which turned into one prize), was the epitome of several things I detest the most.

First off, Mike was with me (he'd called up wanting to take me to dinner, so I told him if he wanted to come along with me to the car thing, that was cool), and so every time any of the sales people addressed "me" they talked to him. How the heck does he know what my budget for the car is? You'd think that when I expressly stated, "No, we're not married. He's my boyfriend" they would get the idea that it was for me, that I would be making payments and no one else. Not so. Again today, I had to clarify using those exact words.

Then, to really get me riled up, before I left last night, after scheduling an appointment for this morning (I wanted an accurate assessment on my car so that when I do get a new one, I have an idea of how much mine is worth), Leon, the car salesman I'd been dealing with, sent over his manager. His manager, who reminded me of the actor Tim Curry, immediately came over, shook mine and Mike's hands and proceeded to tell Mike that he thinks if he can get a buyer interested, he might be able to offer more for the trade in. Finally, he said to me, "If I could get you more money for your trade in, would you be interested in making the deal right now."

My response, "I'm sorry, I'd have to sleep on it. I'm not a big fan of impetuous purchases, at least not large ones."
"Well, it's a really good deal, and it might not be here tomorrow."
I thanked him, smiled, shook his hand and walked out to Mike's car as fast as possible.

Today, ten o'clock, I show up for my appointment. I'm greeted with a handshake and a smile. We took the car for another spin, and after staying up until ridiculous hours (working/researching/staring at the ceiling), I'm both tired and prepared with what I'm pretty sure is a foolproof way to make excuses and leave.

See, last night, while comparing several insurance companies, I'd realized the cost of my car insurance and the cost of the car payments would be more than my whole monthly mortgage

So I explained, "I do like the car. However, I don't love it. It doesn't have the anti-lock brakes. The insurance is high, the cost is high, and as I mentioned yesterday, I do prefer cars with manual transmissions. They get better gas mileage, they're more fun, and I hate to be shallow, but they're usually much cuter. And even though I'm not good with numbers, I do have common sense and the fact that my car payment combined with my car insurance payment would be higher than my mortgage, I'm going to have to pass."

"Let me see what I can do for you." Several minutes later, he asked if Mike would be helping with the payments, and I had to explain that we're not living together and we don't have a bank account together. Ticks me off that one would ask that. So then he asked (again) if I had a father or a brother that I needed to ask before I could proceed.

What did he expect me to say? "Yes, well, I've already told you I can't afford it and I'm not interested, but my daddy's going to tell me to go ahead." ???? Maybe that's what I should have said. Instead, I said, "No."

Then, his manager came over and he explained that I love the car (say what?) but the payments are too high. Then, I passed my car keys to the guy who was going to get the estimate (the only part I cared about) and was stuck, for the next forty minutes, listening to the talks about how much less he can make things.

Here's what I learned:

*Cars salesman will bend over backwards to make the sale.
*When the cars salesman calls, insurance rates drop a bunch (mine went down $60)
*When the word "no" is taken as a challenge, it means you have the power. Even if it doesn't get
you anywhere.
*Just because a car is newer doesn't mean it's better.

Leon told me "Well, maybe you need to start out with a car you don't love to get a car you do love. So you can trade it in and afford the new car that you do love. " (This is before he told his manager I loved it, by the way.) Ironically, the car I might love (pretty manual transmission volkswagen beetle) is about half the cost of the one I don't (Ford Focus).

Gee, I wonder what I should do?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Can't Sleep

I can't sleep. I'm not sure why. I'm tired. But when I was in bed, the puppy curled up next to me in a state of exhaustion, I couldn't sleep. One of the good things about working from home is that if, in the middle of the night, I realize I can't sleep, I can find something to work on. Then, I can sleep in or whatever later.

The worst part about not being able to see my former computer's screen is I can't save my files. That means that I have files, bookmarked pages and other things that I can't get to, through no fault of my own. And it's obnoxious. Especially when trying to apply for writing jobs. Sample? What's that? Why a sample? Oh dear.

Now I'm rambling, proof that I'm tired. Which makes it all the more frustrating that I can't sleep.

Maybe I should watch another Disney movie.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Out With the Old, On With the New

I have a new computer!

I'm trying really hard to convince myself that this is a good thing. So far, I'm failing miserably. Why, you ask?
Simple: I lost the majority of my pictures, music, my bookmarks and most importantly, files. I can't afford a new computer. The reason I bought a new computer is my computer screen was GREEN. Yes, green. If you don't believe me, ask Melody. She'll confirm it.

However, the new computer is pretty, it's a Dell, and it has a two-year warranty. I like warranties.

I'm going to go eat cake. Probably not the wisest idea as I had 10 (really) cookies earlier, but I east sugar when I'm stressed... and I'm stressed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Goshen, Indiana: Problems and Frustrations

I really do love living in Goshen, don't get me wrong. However, there are some things that annoy me to no end:
*People who use my street as a shortcut
*Other drivers
*Not having good coffee
*The impossibility of getting anything done

People always use the street Melody and I live on as a shortcut. Don't know why, they just do. They seem to think that's what it was made for. Today, I was honked at when I was driving down my street (to park there) by someone who was trying to use it to drive through to the other side. This bothered me... "Not sure why." Seriously... why would you do such a thing? You have to know it's annoying.

Other drivers in Indiana bother me, so it's not necessarily just Goshen. You do know about the turn signal, no? The thing on the side of your steering wheel used to indicate that you will be turning left or right? You do realize that not using this turn signal is illegal and can cause accidents? Seriously, I'm from the Chicago area and I am proud to say that Indiana drivers are soooo much worse. The thing about Chicago drivers is this: you might think there's only the space for an ant in-between your car and the car in front of you, but a (good) Chicago driver knows how to make their car the size of an ant.

If you know me, you know that my satisfaction with life, my general overall happiness, and my contentment comes from knowing that I can get some GOOD coffee. However, Goshen, though it has several coffee shops seems to be lacking something when it comes to the word "good." For Pete's sake, make something with quality! Take pride in what you're selling! SATISFY ME! And don't even get me started on the lack of good chai.

Today, though, I was incredibly frustrated. Here's the thing about Goshen. From my house to Kroger, it's about 1.5 miles. Yet it takes 15ish minutes to get there. I'm not joking. It's about 5 miles to Walmart. It takes about 10 minutes to get there. Please explain that. So today, I needed to fax my W9 form and a writer's agreement form to the new writing job I have. Good, good.
Except for one thing: I was sent on a wild goose chase trying to find a fax machine. Every store I went to sent me somewhere else. For 2 hours. Finally, I went to the library and paid $1.50/page (which is why I'd been looking for somewhere else).

Two HOURS! Granted, most of that two hours was my trying to get from place to place. Wait... doesn't that make it worse? Ridiculous. Truly ridiculous.

The 2008 Chicago Auto Show

Last Sunday, Mike and I took the train to the Chicago Auto Show. It was a long long long day, but it was truly amazing. I've never actually been much of a car person. I mean, I can look at a car and say, "Wow, that car looks nice," but it took my miata (which is sadly, no longer mine) for me to truly understand how amazing cars can be. In short, now I love cars, making this a truly fantastic experience.

I've included some pics - and we were there for five hours and didn't see it all. These are some of my favorites. These are the new Suzuki trucks. I love love love the color of the green one.

This the semi that Mike loved. He saw it, and I'd just heard an announcement about getting a coupon for $500 off a new car. Since I'm planning on buying a car this summer, that caught my interest, and I said, "Honey, we should go check that out."
"Okay, whatever..." and then, a second later, "I need... I want... I have no idea what you said."
I looked at him, and his eyes were GLUED to this semi. "Okay, we can go look."
He pulled my camera from around my neck, gave me his drink and said, "Let's trade."

And then we saw the army vehicles and spent a LOT of time taking pics there.

Seriously, we were at the auto show for five hours and didn't see everything. If you're interested in heading out there, the train tickets are about $18 roundtrip to Chicago from Southbend, tickets for the show are $10 apiece, and food inside is EXPENSIVE - bring a lunch. This is the last weekend (February 16 and 17) to see it, and it's totally worth it.

Now, if you want to see the rest of my pictures, you can go to any of these three links, which will take you to albums one, two and three of my facebook picture collections. I'd put more up here, but this has taken forever.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Miracle of the Spray Bottle

I adore my puppy, I really do. Ali is sweet and cuddly and funny. And she bites. And she jumps on things she's not supposed to jump on. And she eats shoes.

Or at least she did. Last week, I bought two spray bottles (one for Melody and one for me). It has been amazing ever since. Puppy has a combination of healthy fear of the spray bottle coupled with an intense interest in it. If it's sitting idly, she wants it. If it's picked up, about to be sprayed at her, she backs off immediately. It's wonderful.

And she listens! And she's been so much sweeter since.

The first day I was telling Mike I fell bad about spraying my baby and Mike, ever the good boyfriend (with the exception of Valentine's Day plans), said, "You shouldn't feel bad about it. It's helping her learn."

A few days ago, I said something about how much better she was being and he grinned, and then he said, "You don't feel bad anymore, do you?"

Kingston Falls: Making a Video For MTV

My boyfriend has a friend, Josh, who for as long as Mike can remember, has wanted to be in a band. Now, Josh is in a heavy metal and pop christian band with Bill, Brent, Josiah, and Nate; Kingston Falls. (In the pic, the band members from left to right are Bill, Josh, Nate, Josiah and Brent.) All the band members are from the Goshen area, which I think is even cooler.

Last Saturday, Mike and I were able to participate in helping the band make a music video
for their "fun song." Frankly, I'm not much of a heavy metal fan, but I really loved their music. Loved it. (You can here the clip of their songs at their website: If I knew how to upload it to this site, I totally would. Unfortunately, I'm technologically incompetent.

I've never made a (real) music video before. I mean, like most people (I imagine, at least) I went around making a "music video" to a song I liked or whatever. (Laurie and I chose um... oh dear, don't remember which song, right now. Probably a good thing. That thing... wow, run for cover.)

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to make the video for Kingston Falls - and a lot of work.

I also really liked the band members. They were all nice, down to earth people who were friendly, sincere, smiled a lot and were really interesting conversationalists.

There were TONS of people in the shots we did (a house party) and it was sooooo much fun. And really really hot. Those light things... they're hot. And expensive. The tech guys kept telling us not to touch them, "They'll burn your skin off." We believed them.

We took tons of shots, focusing on each of the band members, us throwing cups at them, and all other kinds of cool things. Evidently, there's one scene with Josiah, when he has a

In any case, I had a good time, and you should check out your website - and look for Kingston Falls, especially when they hit MTV.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

About Valentine's Day: A Guide For Guys To Valentine's Day

Dear Boys,

This is for the guy who is married to a girl, dating a girl, or interested in a girl. Here's something to think about: Valentine's day is like your wedding, it's about the both of you, but really, it's her day.

Valentine's Day should start with a compliment, such as "You're beautiful," or "I'm so glad I found you." An "I love you," is good, too - but only if it's true. A truly sincere compliment is much more important than anything superfluous or overdone.

Valentine's Day includes compliments, flowers, chocolate, stuffed animals (or any combination thereof), and only if you're creative or know what she wants, should you stray from this very specific combination of Valentine's Day elements. It also includes dinner, preferably a nice one. Valentine's Day dinner is the meal to say, "Honey, let's celebrate."

The thing about dinners is they don't have to be expensive to be nice. It does, however, have to be only two people - no third wheels for this meal; something you both like, and it has to be somewhere clean and professional. McDonalds is not a suitable Valentine's Day meal, I promise. If you can cook, more power to you: Valentine's Day is the day to whip out all the stops, making a meal at home perfectly acceptable, as well.

Yes, flowers are more expensive on Valentine's Day. Suck it up, Cupcake. By the way, roses are overdone... pretty, but overdone. Consider a combination of flowers, like roses and tulips or roses and stargazers or roses and her favorite flower or your favorite flower (you know you have one) and her favorite flower. Or, if you're stuck, ask the florist. They can help, I promise. That's what they're there for.

Every girl will complain if you give her chocolate, "Oh, it's going to make me fat," but secretly, unless she doesn't like chocolate at all, she wants it. It doesn't have to be a lot, though. Just a couple of pieces. No two-pound boxes of chocolate. That makes every girl mad - and it's obvious you waited until the last minute - or forgot - and are trying to make up for it (I know, I used to work in a candy store. Valentine's Day had the biggest sales - and the only day of the year men bought 5 lb boxes of chocolate).

No matter how old you are, you are never too old to receive a teddy bear from your sweetheart. There can be cute variations on this old gift idea, but scary monkeys do not qualify as cute, cuddly, teddy bears. By the way, neither do live animals, no matter how cute and cuddly.

Valentine's Day is not a day for gift cards, unless they're highly original - and for something specific. For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to purchase a gift card to your wife/girlfriend's favorite coffee shop, spa or masseuse. It is not acceptable to give her a gift card to Wal-Mart. Feel free to use your imagination, but keep your girl in mind, too.

A note about pre-Valentine's Day: If you ask, "Honey, what do you want for Valentine's Day?" You need to be willing to get her what she wants. None of this, "I'm sorry, sweetie, roses are $70 and they die within a week. Pick something else." That doesn't fly. If you don't want get her what she wants, don't ask her what she wants.

So boys, now you have a quick little guide to making your Valentine's Day a good, successful day, and not something that will end with you sleeping on the couch (husbands), having a pan broken over your head (anyone) or with you having a disappointed significant other and completely clueless as to why.


A truly distressed girlfriend who wishes her boyfriend read her blog

Monday, February 4, 2008

Shoveling the Snow

A few months ago, a neighbor shoveled my walk. I was horrified. I had been intending to do it and just never got around to it.
Since I work at home, I hid every time she walked by the house.

Today, a very nice young man came by and asked if he could shovel the stairs and sidewalk for $5. Since by now I know that there is no way I'm going to do it myself, that sounded wonderful. He looked surprised. I guess he's been turned down a lot.

Here's the thing: it's only $5, but if he does enough, that'll add up (for him). Besides, I respect someone who can go to the door of someone he doesn't know and make the offer.

Thanks, Kid.

Shipshewana Pajama Sale

By 6 Saturday morning, Melody and I were in Shipshewana, shopping, at the Pajama Sale. No, pajamas weren't on sale - at least not anywhere I looked. Instead, the whole of Shipshewana was selling their goods for reduced prices - you know discounts of 30-40 percent. The catch was that you had to be wearing Pajamas in order to qualify for the sale.

Yay sales. I love shopping...