When Your New Car Breaks

184739_654152521493_214642313_n

Try and stay positive!

I absolutely loath when people say that. First, and foremost, I think talking about people being “negative” or “positive” is – in a word – childish. Those are just more labels we as a society use to peg people that we think are doing something either right or wrong, by our standards.

So I really and truly want to punch people in the nads that throw that “try and stay positive” crap in my face. Sometimes, you just have to be realistic. Sometimes staying positive is a recipe for getting your own self punched in the nads.

When your new car breaks, I would highly recommend not trying to stay positive. I would highly recommend flipping out, because as soon as you come down from your moment of temporary insanity, it’s a lot easier to figure things out realistically.

I bought a new used car approximately three weeks ago. My husband crashed his car into some 16 year old on the way to work back in October, and after months of deliberation the insurance company finally decided to total out his car. My Yaris got amazing gas mileage; I needed something bigger … so we did a little swap. I got the money for the insurance pay out and bought a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I did the research. I drove it multiple times. I did everything right; and (despite the fact that I was pretty sure the private dealership was owned and operated by the leaders of the local mob) it seemed like the right decision.

I should be clear, I have been hit (not hit others) in quite a few car accidents since moving to California, so I have a lot of experience buying cars. The Jeep was my fifth purchase.

Now today I was driving on the freeway from our lunch out to Barnes and Noble. I made it no more than two miles down the road, though, when all of a sudden my car started jerking, and violently. I got off at the next exit, called my husband then my father and both said I should try and make it home. When I put the car back into “D” though, it made this horrible, loud thud noise and the entire car jumped. It was barely drivable after that.

We ended up getting towed. Within a few hours I learned that the entire transmission needs to be rebuilt, of course not a covered item on the 90 day limited warranty. Blah blah blah. Let’s get to the positives.

But wait! I said I didn’t want to try and stay positive. I said that when your new car breaks you should let yourself freak out, rather than living in a false sense of naive idealism that everything will just magically work out for you!

Those aren’t the kinds of positives I’m talking about. I’m talking about the stories that come from being towed.

Humanity Is Evil

480832_654152611313_271389699_n

The tow guy got there and attempted to drive my car up onto the tow ramp. But as he was backing the Jeep up to pull it on, this crazy broad pulled up behind him and started honking her horn. Then she yelled “get out of my way!!” The tow guy pulled the car in front of his tow truck, which was a huge mistake. No less than twenty cars then proceeded to drive past the tow truck, no one stopping for him to get my poor, broken Jeep up onto the ramp.

You may be thinking this is normal for a street, but then I have to tell you the best part: I was in a goddamned parking lot with about ten others rows that people could have driven down instead of the one we were in.

Nothing says “this was a good a experience” like a harsh reminder that humanity is evil.

Some People Are Truly Amazing

14930_654154672183_243688893_n

But then – when all seemed to be at a total loss – a woman walked up to me and said “is that your car being towed?” I told her that it was, and then told her that no one was letting the poor tow guy get it up on the ramp, though.

She said: “hold on, I just had lunch with my ex-husband and I’ll have him pull up and block the driveway until your car gets up there.”

No, I am not kidding you, faithful blog followers. The guy pulled up and blocked the way, then pulled forward and asked if he could help with anything else. I thanked him, he drove off. Then the woman asked if we were being picked up, or if she could drive us home.

As horrible as this world is, every once in a while there is a light of hope hanging on.

People Are Full of Surprises

734741_654153205123_581412347_n

Once the Jeep was loaded, we just had to get into the tow truck and ride with him to the auto care center, closer to our apartment (about fourteen miles away). There, my dad was going to meet us and help me get everything handled.

As we got into the tow truck, the tow guy – who seemed like your average, run-of-the-mill tow truck driver – took the kid’s stuffed bear, set him in the middle of the backseat, and clicked him in. Pookie smiled, said thanks, and held the bear’s hand the whole trip.

I have never seen a service person, who deals with the nastiness of public on a regular basis, show such an unbelievably humbling sweetness in my entire life.

The only other note of excitement for the trip was that we had to go through a weigh station, since we were over a large hill that the heavy truck was going to have to go down. I had never been through a weigh station before, and always thought it was some sort of complicated ordeal involving scales and measures and paperwork and police. Sadly, it was not as exciting. We pulled through it, just driving slowly, and continued down the hill.

When your new car breaks, I highly suggest freaking out. Don’t listen to those assholes that tell you to try and stay positive, because there is nothing positive about car repairs. There are, however, pretty awesome reminders you can learn along the way – no matter how ugly or unbelievably touching they may be.

Advertisements

The Hillbilly Who Cried Wolf

Before Pookie started homeschooling, we had her in a local Catholic school. One of the requirements of families was mandatory volunteer time – you had to do 18 hours a year, or something like that. Taking tickets at the school carnival, checking kids in tardy, lunch duty, and other assorted chum work were what everyone seemed to be doing when we started there, and if you didn’t do your 18 hours a year, you were charged a whopping $150 an hour. Naturally I obliged.

I wasn’t going to be doing any of those sucking eggs tasks, though – this B(itch) volunteered in the classroom.

Usually the teacher had me take a part of the class to the library to be read to. The kids would gather around me, I would select a few age-appropriate books, and then the battle would begin for me to get the story finished with all of them (1) paying attention, and (2) alive. I miss those days. There’s something cathartic about reading a children’s book, and fielding questions like “why are frogs green?” and “where did that baby in the mommy’s tummy come from?” It gave me an opportunity to wax philosophical with Kindergarteners – always a delight, in my book.

Let’s try and recreate that now, faithful blog followers – for I have a doozy of a story to tell. Gather round. Get your fingers out of your nostrils, and your wedgies out of your ass cracks. It’s time for Mama B(itch) to teach you about The Hillbilly Who Cried Wolf.

Untitled

There once was an hillbilly named Trailer Trash Mom. She was a good little girl about 3% of the time, and the remaining parts of her life she was evil. When I say evil, I mean she lied a lot. She used people. She was a horrible mother and grandmother. And she was a gossip.

But for some reason, Trailer Trash Mom still had a large group of family and friends around her that supported her no matter what. They gave her money because she had no job. They gave her a place to stay when she had no man to support her. They paid the bill for her false teeth when all of her real ones fell out – they were just that devoted to Trailer Trash Mom.

One day, many years ago, Trailer Trash Mom cried wolf. She was just hanging out with her legs up and spread on a table in a casino lounge. A man caught her eye (or lady parts … only they know), and it was love at first sight (hump). She cried to her family and friends “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf has fallen in love with me, and he is a drummer, and he is going to take me on tour with Madonna!!” Her friends and family flocked to her side. They gave her money for clothes. They got her a new hairstyle and makeup kit – she was going to be going on the road with the new love of her life, and with Madonna!

In the end, the truth came out. Trailer Trash Mom was not going on tour with Madonna. The  whole thing was a story to cover for the fact that the drummer from that night in the casino lounge was married.

There was no wolf.

Some time went by, and people forgot about the incident. Trailer Trash Mom found a new boyfriend and after only a few months she moved in with him. They were happy, although she would often complain of money problems, casino dramas, and other assorted encounters with the law. One day she showed up at her parents’ apartment bruised and bloodied. “Wolf! Wolf!” Trailer Trash Mom cried. “I caught him cheating on me with another woman and he beat me to pieces!!” Her friends and family flocked to her side again. They gave her money to stay somewhere else until she found a new home. They paid for movers to go in and get her things out of the house, while her boyfriend was gone. They called the police and filed reports.

And then the truth came out. Trailer Trash Mom had caught him cheating, but tried to get in on it. Yes, that’s right – she tried for a threesome (I shudder at the thought). The bruised and bloodied state she appeared in when arriving at her parents’ apartment was from getting into a bar fight with someone who had looked at someone new she was trying to put the moves on.

There was no wolf.

Even more time went by and somehow Trailer Trash Mom landed herself a husband. He was no catch, though – a hillbilly living in New Mexico, the man lived off of hot dogs, cigarettes, and a daily case of Coors. Trailer Trash Mom traveled between New Mexico and her parents’ home in California, but it was beginning to become unreasonable financially, since Trailer Trash Mom had no income.

One day while in California she got off the phone and cried: “Wolf! Wolf!! My hillbilly husband has cancer!” Her friends and family flocked to her again, only this time they asked a few questions. A few phone calls later, his “cancer” was really just an infection that a five day course of antibiotics would clear up. But a few weeks later, Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone again and cried “Wolf! Wolf!! My hillbilly husband has melanoma!!” Her friends and family flocked to her yet again, asking even more questions. A few phone calls later, his “melanoma” was all a mistake. It was a crumb just stuck to his face.

There was no wolf. There was no wolf. Her family and friends started to believe there never would be a wolf.

A few months went by this time and one day Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone, yet again screaming “Wolf!!!!!! My hillbilly husband has pneumonia!” But this time the friends and family didn’t really flock; they listened to her, but didn’t really know what they could do. It was Walking Pneumonia, and by the time she found out he was supposedly on antibiotics and feeling better. So a few more days went by and Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone, crying one more time “Wolf!!! Wolf!!! Wolf!!!!! My hillbilly husband has had a heart attack! He’s being airlifted to a hospital in Texas because there are none in the town in which he lives!! Oh the peril! WOLF!!”

But this time she cried and someone checked the Internet. There was a hospital in the town in which he lived. Who knew if there really was a wolf? There never had been before.

So she cried it again – “Wolf!! Wolf!!!” WOLF!!!” to the one person (no it was not me) that hadn’t turned their back on Trailer Trash Mom. A few hours later, a plane ticket was purchased. A car was rented. Arrangements had been made for Trailer Trash Mom to return to her hillbilly husband, on someone else’s dime.

No one but that one person believed Trailer Trash Mom because she had cried wolf so many times before. Did her hillbilly husband really have a heart attack? No one really knows. No one will probably ever know if the wolf ever existed.

No one, but Trailer Trash Mom.

Four Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Mom

People sometimes tell me I look at the negative side of everything. I always think it’s funny when they say that, though, because it is only through being honest with yourself about a situation that you can make it better. Haven’t you ever gone to a wedding and thought to yourself “jeez, I’d never do that at my wedding?” Or had a shitty job and accepted the shittiness of it to push yourself to find something better? People with that gloriously naive-“must always look at the bright side of things”-approach to life generally (in my experience) stay in bad situations longer than they should because they can’t be honest about the uglier stuff that needs to change.

I refuse to waste my life accepting a pile of crap as a bed of roses just to sound pleasant to others. It’s just my opinion and approach to life, though. You don’t have to adopt it.

So last night I made my husband watch Mermaids with me. I’m on an 80s and 90s movies kick right now. It started with watching all the films Esquire suggested “all women” should watch, which included some 80s gems. Then as I perused through the Netflix Que, I noticed there were a ton I haven’t seen in ages. Some I had never seen at all.

It’s been so long since I last watched Mermaids that I had forgotten the crux of the story. It’s all about this teenage girl learning lessons in life from the negative bad-mom aspects of her “town tramp” of a mom. Reminds me a lot of my mom. For those of you faithful blog followers that are relatively new, I won’t beat around the bush: I call my mom Trailer Trash Mom for a reason. In the years since she divorced my dad, she has become a trashy, hillbilly, user and abuser; who has stolen, lied, and cheated more from me than anyone would tolerate. That whole “debt for life” thing has been repaid to her ten-fold at this point; although, I just can’t cut the ties because I want a relationship with my grandparents, which can only be facilitated if she is around (they think she’s the greatest thing next to stick butter, likely a consequence of old age and a very hefty piece of wool she’s pulled over their eyes).

In any event, watching Mermaids reminded me of the parenting lessons I’ve learned from the more negative aspects of my own mother.

Lesson 1:

Never make a promise to a child unless you plan on keeping it

Fortunately, when my mom breaks promises to me now, I only cry for about a day. When I was little, though, I’d cry for days – once a whole week.

I’m not talking about stupid promises. “Oh yes, you can ride the automatic-disease-ridden-pony in front of Toys ‘R’ Us next time, I promise.” I’m full of shit every time I say that, because that promise is to get the kid to stop bitching; although, will still not be happening. The thing has been covered with an unidentified slime for as long as I can remember.

I’m talking about big promises. “Dad promised he’d be at my Little League game and he didn’t show up or call!” is devastating, especially if it happens frequently.

Lesson 2:

Don’t turn your kid(s) into the parent

There’s a scene in Mermaids when Winona Ryder’s narration acknowledges that her character feels like the parent sometimes. And she is. Her mom is too much of a two-bit town whore (although she tones it down at the end) to even prepare a regular meal. This is something my mom used to constantly do.

When my mom first left my dad and moved across the country to Seattle, I’d visit twice a year. In the beginning she was the “other woman” to a married guy in the military, who was a night guard in the prison. Naturally, when her only daughter came to visit, she couldn’t run the risk of losing her status as the “other woman,” though, so she’d leave me sitting downstairs to fend for myself the entire trip, while she’d entertain him upstairs all day while his wife was at work. I even had to cook my own meals, which was difficult since I was only 10 at the time. I once threw Cheetos into a bowl of white rice I found in the refrigerator. Fucking disgusting.

Nothing sucks more than having to grow up too soon because your parent has the maturity of an infant.

Lesson 3:

Don’t ever introduce male suitors as “uncle”

I have had so many uncles in my life, it’s a good thing they weren’t real or family reunions would need a bigger venue.

My mother had so many men coming in and out of her life until only recently, when she married this guy that lives in a trailer out in New Mexico, I have lost count. I do know there were at least eight Mikes, three Rons, two black guys (the first was Marvin Gaye’s drummer), six with gambling problems, and one nice guy out of the bunch (who, of course, my mom dumped for no reason). Each of them was referred to as uncle, which just traumatized the shit out of me.

In recent years, she’s started introducing her boyfriends as “grandpa such and such” to the Pookies, which is when I realized the importance of this Lesson 3. I immediately put my foot down. No to “Grandpa Bugsy”. No to “Grandpa Yogi.” No to “Grandpa Mike.” And no … the hillbilly husband will be no “Grandpa Dennis.”

Lesson 4:

Never settle for less in life, or expect your kids to either

When I worked in pharmacy during college, I worked with a girl that would not allow her daughter to have any conveniences that she was not given as a child. She wouldn’t let the poor girl even go to birthday parties of other kids because she had not been allowed to as a child. It made me so sad every time I saw it happen, which was a lot in the six years I worked there. My mother has always been like this.

After divorcing my dad, my mom did nothing but settle for less. She’d debase herself to settle for men she found in bars. She’d settle for less with jobs and cars and housing and friends over and over and over again. She still does. Her most recent stunt of settling for less is starting to bite her in the ass – marrying this hillbilly in New Mexico. He’s a total jerk to her and she has the nerve to say that since she’s settling for jerkish behavior that I should too.

I don’t think so.

These four lessons that I learned from my mom are pretty important ones, and I wouldn’t have learned them had I not looked at the negative side of my mother’s behavior over the years. I almost feel grateful for my “negative” approach, because had I not taken it I may have just accepted these behaviors as acceptable and continued the cycle I see so many other women in my community continuing with their own kids. When you look at old movies, like Mermaids, you can see that a lot of people used to hold this perspective. Look at the world for what it really is and overcome it. Not just settle for happy positivisms all the time just to make everything seem great to others.

See how much happier I am in my “negativity”? I mean, can you even still call it “negativity” when so much good is coming out of it?

Vacation Wrap Up: Back to Reality

Of course by “back to reality” I mean that I am a rampant bitch again. Like I said in my blogged vacation reports, I felt super nice again when I went to my sweet, home Chicago for a close-to-three-week vacation. It was wonderful. I saw friends. I visited with family. I ate and ate and ate some more (although I lost three pounds on the trip…). And more than anything, I felt good and happy – two things I do not often feel in my daily, misanthropic California life.

I realize now that I attach a lot of my unhappiness to my physical location, and this is mainly because my unhappiness in California stems from things about the area that I just don’t jive with. I’m not fake, high strung, and narcissistic – qualities that I find to be more than I can take at times in my southwestern coastal community. This isn’t to say there are no nice people here (because there are), it’s just a little overwhelming for this tried and true Midwest Girl to be confronted with such a different life perspective that can seem (at times) to be a little shallow and short-sighted.

It also has to do with a lot of other factors. Like the fact that I am a philosopher and there is little intellectualism going on in our community. Leaving graduate school was in that sense probably the worst thing I could have done, for I lost the only community of thinkers in the program that I left behind. And the fact that I am allergic to a lot of California pollens, so am miserable at least three days a week with a stuffy nose and sinus migraines. Lastly, there is that simple fact that my family is so far away from the west coast. I miss them every day and no matter how many things we try to fill my life with to replace them, it just doesn’t change a thing.

So my vacation home was really a vacation to my roots – my own roots, that is. It has been years since I have been able to look at my life and say what I really feel; years since I have been able to acknowledge what is really going on, rather than distracting myself to make peace with an unhealthy situation. Now that I have a little more clarity, I can move to make some positive changes in my own life. Don’t you worry, though, faithful blog followers – I will still be just as misanthropic and bitchy as always. I just won’t have high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia to go along with it.

So here are a few of my changes that I am immediately implementing as I get back to reality:

I will no longer be Internet buddies with dysfunctional fuckfaces

That’s right – I dropped the f-faces word. What I’m saying is that I will no longer be Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or LinkedIN connections with people that are assholes. To begin, I’ve deleted all of the people that are in my husband’s circle that have been outright dicks to me. That doesn’t mean that if he wants to go to a family reunion (please, God … NO!) I won’t go – it just means I won’t be letting them into my own personal life when all they do is use that to hurt me. Too many of his friends and/or family have told me I’m “ugly” (yes, one of his friends told me that) or that there was an entire cadre of other things about me they did not like for me to feel OK with having extended relationships with them.

Sadly, this means that Facebook fights with Hello Kitty Toaster will be coming to an end. There is still the possibility I will be running into her and my prick of a brother-in-law in public, but I just cannot allow her to impact me in my personal life anymore. On the day we were leaving Chicago to embark on our cross-country return, she sent me a bitchy Facebook comment and then posted some bullshit on her own Facebook a minute later about how much people like me piss her off. Well good, Hello Kitty Toaster – you piss me off too, so how’s about we stop being Friends?

I will be doing things I enjoy from now on…

…rather than doing things that others tell me I should be enjoying. I am who I am. I like to talk. I like to watch movies. I like to go to museums. I enjoy shopping. I feel empty when not in the city. I like going for drives for no reason other than to look around. And like most Chicagoans, I like to bitch about everything under the sun. This is who I am and anyone that doesn’t like it can go jump.

While I was on vacation, I was so happy to have the opportunity to do some of the things I really enjoy. On one of the last nights in the city in particular, we took a drive into the heart of Chicago to flash some photographs and soak in the place that is so important to who I am. The following day, I visited the Hemingway Museum and the home in which he was born (something that would bore most people I know, but fascinated me beyond belief). In these two things – my nighttime drive through the city and my visit to the museum of my favorite writer – I felt more happy and alive than in as long as I could remember.

I will no longer let others put me down when it comes to my personal character.

Obviously this California versus Chicago issue is a bone of major contention between my husband and myself. Without getting into all the uglier details of our marital discord, I can say without regret that my husband is adamantly opposed to living anywhere other than California, and doing anything other than cultivating his own career in film. Oftentimes, it feels as though I am demonized for wanting something other than the unhappiness we both have for the sake of some vague hope that one day his career will take off. Beyond that, and as is the case with most women, usually I am gaslighted for having feelings.

Because I am the way I am, I regularly feel subjected to a rejection of who I am simply because I am not like most people around me (at my home in California, that is). As an example, today I was driving home from the grocery store and there was a momma duck walking across the street with eight little baby ducks. The street was right outside of our apartment complex, and we live nowhere near any lakes so I have no idea where they came from. Sadly, California is so covered in concrete and developments, finding random wildlife struggling to find a home is common. There were three cars in front of me when I noticed the ducks crossing. The first driver honked, the second driver swerved, and the third driver started screaming at the ducks to get out of the road. This is typical behavior for the area.

Although I didn’t do any of those things. I pulled over when I saw that the baby ducks were having a problem getting onto the sidewalk. I got out of my car and I walked over to help lead them up the ramp portion of the sidewalk. Right as I got back in my car – which was legally parked, I might mention – a fourth car pulled up behind me and screamed out the window “you fucking asshole, you should have let those ducks get creamed.” Really, California? Yes, really.

I know that helping those ducks was the right thing to do. I know that a lot of things I do are the right things to do. I’m not trying to say I’m some moral standard by which others should judge their behavior, I’m just saying that I try to be a good person and I know that when I make choices in that vein I am doing the right thing.

Upon my return from vacation, though, it seems as though a concerted effort has been made by others to make me feel like I am bad or wrong for wanting to be who I am and live life in accordance with what I know is right. I’m not going to tolerate this anymore, though. I will no longer let others put me down when it comes to my personal character.

So I feel like something of an hypocrite. Around New Years I talked shit up and down people’s New Years Resolutions, and these three things feel like resolutions to me. Really they are changes, though – changes that I intend to keep that are matters of personal growth (rather than things I should have been doing all along anyway) and there will be more to come. I’m back to reality, and while that does mean that I am back to being a rampant bitch, it also means I am back to the reality of who I am.