Monday, February 1, 2016

A Modern Day Fable

This past summer we were in Philly for a weekend trip to attend a wedding and to look at houses to buy when my sister offered to give us my mom's old car which she had previously inherited and subsequently used up the majority of its functioning life.

But, hey, it is a free car.  She might have a couple solid years left in her.  And we are car-less... And after we sign up for this mortgage, we will be money-less too.  We could use the charity... My sister's boyfriend's mother could use the driveway space....So we will take it!!

We picked up my sister's car at her future mother-in-law's house on what was easily the hottest day of the year. My sister and future brother-in-law then head back to Philly and we follow them in our new car which we soon find out does not have functioning air conditioning.  We roll down the windows which is arguably hotter having the scorching air blown right onto your sizzling skin.  We rotate rolling down the windows and attempting a breeze, to closing them back up until we at so hot and stuffy we want to barf.  The steering wheel is too hot to touch.  The hot plastic seats are searing through our bottoms; it is so hot we have goosebumps.  

Then my phone dies from over heat. Then Trevor's phone overheats and also dies.  All is not lost though.  Although we do not know where we are going, my sister and her boyfriend do.  We just have to follow their luxurious subaru whose AC works and is not threatening to shut off their iphone lifeline. We continue to follow my sister and her boyfriend back to Philly.  Just in case Trevor is holding his phone out the window to attempt to cool it off in the breeze and see if he can turn it back on.  It's on for a second then dies again. I try not to lose my sister.  We cannot call them to tell him to slow down... We cannot call them to tell them we do not have GPS anymore. We cannot call them to tell them not to go through the ez pass lane because we do not have ez pass and will surely lose them at the bridge ... And that's exactly what we do.  We are so hot. So angry. So lost.  But at least we have a car!!

We eventually get off the highway in the general direction of the neighborhood bar.  Soaked in sweat. Hungry, thirsty. We cool off our phones long enough to get a signal, find their bar, only have time to order one drink, chug it down and grab some food to go before we have to get  home, showerm, ans spiffy-up for a wedding.

The day after the wedding we have a grueling day lined up to see eight or so houses.  I am terrified by the AC situation.  We stock up on waters. Keep our phones out of the sun.  I cannot even remember any of the houses we saw. I was too miserable for my brain to function

Our last task before we drive back up to our tiny apartment in Cambridge is to get the car inspected.

We sit through the long hot line at the DMV inspection center.  Choosing between suffering in the stifle of windows up or choking in the car exhaust with windows down.  Those are our options.  Finally it is our turn.  We hand the man my mom's registration card since my sister never registered it in her name. The garage man keeps it and says he will return it after the inspection.

We get out of the car and wait in a dirty hallway. Thirty minutes later we are waved out to our car.  The inspection fails.  But we have a document saying we have 30 days to fix it, so we are slightly better off than at the start of the day.

Let's just head to a coffee shop so I can get a couple hours of work in and fully charge the laptop before we hit the road.  But first let's put that registration card away.  What registration card?  The registration card I have to the man when we got here... He said he would give it back when they gave us back the car. Did he give it to you?  No.  Did he give it to you? No!   Excuse me Mr. DMV man can we please have our registration card back?  I left it on the driver seat in the car!  Oh let me check.  No, it is not there.  Proceed for the next 20 min to rip apart the car, the floor mats, the beach chairs in the trunk, the empty water bottles in the back seat.  Where is this damn registration card?!

Meanwhile I now have to take a work call from the curb of a classy NJ DMV inspection center curb on highway 202 in Flemington and it is not even one I can stay on mute for...

Trevor goes back to argue with the man about the location of this registration card.  The garage man gives Trevor some new paper work and tells him to go into the main office and they can get him a new card.  He is in the office for the full hour while I'm on the curb trying to stifle the auto garage noises from my coworker.

I get off the phone an hour later and Trevor eventually returns.

You got the new registration card?

The registration card is in your mom's name. They would not give me one. They need your mom to be here.

Defeated.  Well let's get the hell out of here before things get worse.  We finally find a coffee shop which does not serve food and is closing in an hour.  But I have to get some work done and I need their wifi.  So I work for a bit while Trevor finds some granola bars at a convenient store.  

We finally pack up from the New Jersey coffee shop and are ready to hit the five hour road back to Cambridge, MA.  I start collecting my things and.. oh.... what this little piece of paper I have in my purse?! .......The damn registration card!!!!

I am fuming mad at how much of a moron I am that I start crying.  Rational Trevor points out that it is arguably better that we found the registration card now, then not find it at all.  It is ok.  You were stressed.  You were overheated.  And the guys we were harassing back at the garage do not need to know about his.

We get back in the car and I am back on a work meeting.  This one is the kind I can stay on mute for.  We start our drive back to Massachusetts.  On our way home.  The sun is setting and it is starting to cool down.  We are starting to cool down.  We will get home very late and, although that is not ideal, we are looking forward to driving with the windows down at night and avoiding the high heat of the summer's day.

Finally starting to relax.  Cannot wait to get home to air conditioning and take a cold shower!  Listening in on my business meeting I see Trevor starts to tighten up.  He is looking concerned and keeps looking down at the dashboard.  What is it?  Are we out of gas?  Still on the phone I give him the palm up hand, furrowed brow look (universal sign language for "what the hell is wrong")?  He points at the speedometer and waves at his neck, universal sign language for "that is too hot."  (Even though I am on mute I still don't like talking). He whispers that he has to put on the heat full blast in this 90 degree weather to get the heat off the engine.  He does that for a few miles, but it is not helping (me or the car).  I look up out the windshield and the car hood is now smoking.  I elbow him and yank my thumb to the right (universal sign for "Holy shit!!! Pull over!!!!!") 

As luck would have it, (and the only luck we would have this day) we were close to an exit and my work meeting had come to an end.  We pull off the highway and into a hotel parking lot (coincidentally the same hotel where our good friends Matt and Renata were married a few years before).

We grab a beer at the familiar hotel bar and debate if we should stay the night at the hotel or tow the car tonight.  Since we will have to tow the car either way, we decide to save on the hotel fee and get a move on things tonight.  So we call AAA to sign up for a membership and subsequently use the membership instantly to tow the smoking car an hour and a half drive back to my mom's house.

It is after midnight when we arrive. I borrow cash from my mom to tip the driver. First thing the next day we slowly drive the car a couple miles to the auto shop.  It's a $500 fix.  We slowly drive the car back to my mom's house.  Then take an Uber to the closest car rental place. Back at my mom's after she has left to visit my sister in DC, we pack up the rental car with all our belongings. We leave my sister's car keys and the 30-day inspection failure notice for her at my mom's house.  We scour the house for anything we may have left behind.  I do not have a key to my mom's house so if we leave and lock it, we will be locked out.  I think we have everything.  

Lock the house.  Get to car.  Realize ez pass, which we had forgot while driving through Philly, but remembered to put back in the car on the way up to Cambridge, is now locked in my sister's car.  The sister's car keys are now locked in the house.  And we are now locked out.  Start crying again.

We stop for food and unload some cash from the atm.  We drive the toll lanes all the way home. 
As Trevor falls asleep in the car I shed some more tears out of appreciation for how desperately crappy the last couple days have been.  You win life, you broke me...multiple times today, in fact... Then I almost hit a baby raccoon.  Dry my eyes.  Things may still continue to get worse...

We make it home by 2am.  As we try to unlock the apartment door Trevor realizes he must have left his keys at my sister's house in Philly...of course. 

Let's go to bed.

The morale of the story is, as my economist husband likes to say, "there's no such thing as a free lunch (or car)."

My morale of the story is, "do not cry when the first crappy thing goes wrong... cause you never know when sh*t is really about to hit the fan..."

or take Trevor's advice... "there is no need to cry about it."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yoga 'na shut yo mouth about my style

I have been lazy and out of shape lately, but I finally convinced myself to stop taking pictures of animal tracks in the snow and start working out.  Instead of the hard kind of working out like using the treadmill or weights in the wonderful basement gym that was included in the house purchase, I opted for a beginner yoga video on youtube in the spacious equipment-free loft.

Yoga is so much more relaxing to do at home. You can go to bed immediately afterwards, you can lay down in the middle of class without being judged, you can wear whatever you want, you don't have someone farting it up next to you...

This last particular at-home yoga session (day 3 of a 30 part series), I was wearing my typical (work from home) business attire: blue fleece-lined leggings, a leopard print mini skirt, and my little sister's wonderfully over-sized hand me down turtleneck sweater (which her fiance lovingly suggested she give away to charity).  I was very happy to inherit this sweater, because what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in warmth, comfort and coziness.

I love it so much I wear it all the time.  Not only have I been lazy about working out, but I have also been pretty lazy about doing laundry and paying attention to how things smell....that is until I am in downward facing dog position and the baggy turtle neck part of the sweater is draped across my face and what is that dirty rotten smell?  Take this sweater off!!  Nope too cold...put it back on...different pose....then back to downward facing dog....sweater over face... Yuck! why does it smell  like barf... Take it off!... ... but why is it so damn cold in this house?!....put it back more downward facing dog tonight.....ahhh child's pose.....relaaaaaaaaxxxxxx......should be doing laundryyyyyyyyyyy

I made it through the rest of the 30 minute video and although I was definitely cutting corners due to my stinky sweater and my inability to withstand life without it, I also had to stop the video 5 times to write down all the annoying things that this instructor was saying so I could remember to tell you! She is horrible.  She thinks she is so funny talking about how she should write a book about butt clenching.  News flash! Nobody would read a book about butt clenching, sista!! Then she starts talking about how she was in a car crash and how her body was such a wreck...ummmm HELLO?  Lady?!!  I am trying to relax over here!!  I don't want to hear some horrible story about your back injury, I am trying to calm down and think about nothing, now SHUT UP!  Then she tries to joke about how goofy and unorganized she is trying to do some stupidly easy pose.  Girlfriend, you don't know the first thing about being goofy and unorganized, now shut your trap and do yoga, you fool!  Grrrrrrr!

I will let you know if Jersey Julie survives the remaining 27 sessions...

And I promise to work on my wardrobe situation.   Working from home I "don't get out much" but on the rare occasion I do meet another fellow human, I have managed some pretty strange experiences centered around my wardrobe.  The other day I was grocery store shopping in the eggos aisle when an old man, unprovoked, came right up to me and said "Excuse me, miss, I noticed you in the produce section. I just have to ask, why are you dressed like that?"  For a split second I thought I may have left the house in my robe and slippies and my heart skipped a beat.  I looked down at my clothes to double check. Nope: leggings, pink skirt, sweater with a big orange heart, normal (for me) clothes. Then I slowly looked back up at him, not really knowing what to say.... he jues has to ask?   How weird do I look to him?? 

The delay must have made him realize I was confused and maybe slightly offended because he quickly stuttered out "I mean, do you normally dress so colorfully?...are you eh uh, coming from a special occasion?"  No, these are just the clothes I own and this is what I normally wear grocery shopping.    The man was 85 years old he has two adult children who refuse to get married or have children of their own and this upsets him. He doesn't talk to them very often.  He stopped working full time over 25 years ago after he put his wife through college and then she started working. He thinks marriage really changes people.  He is not convinced I am older than 18 and he thinks my husband is the luckiest man in the world.  He thinks I radiate honesty.  Little does he know I dress like this on purpose just to mess with old people...    I kid.

Then again just last week, I was in the waiting room of the hospital with my mom and my sister's in-laws.  My sister and brother-in-law were busy upstairs having their baby.  Meanwhile the family members downstairs have been snacking, sleeping, waiting in silence, more snacking, having good conversations, followed by some small talk, more texting, then snacking, throw in a couple walks to the bathroom or vending machine... Minding our own business camped out in our circle of waiting room chairs in the hospital lobby when, again, out of nowhere and completely unprovoked, and older woman with oxygen tubes up her nose, urgently walks up to interrupt our circle of a waiting game.  And at first I thought she was going to ask "where's the doctor?!" or "someone help me!" But instead she starts going on and on about how "I've only ever seen children dressed like you.   I have never seen a grown woman dressed like that.  But this look...this look is very becoming on you though..."

Well, thank you my dear old lady.  I actually have been daydreaming to start designing baby clothes for adults (true story!).  Now you have inspired me.  Maybe it is a sign I should start designing baby clothes for old people...

Thursday, September 24, 2015


After nearly a month which started with hopping around from family's homes..
"Tibical" cookie decorating session a beautifully glamorous wedding in Santa Barbara for one of my best home girls....
 a less-than-pleasant week long stay with the dead beats at the Red Roof Inn on Route 1 in Lawrence, NJ..

eye....won't...stop...twitching... a quick weekend in DC for my sister's slip n' slide-themed baby "sprinkle"....

...Followed by another week+ stay at the Holiday Inn Express, where life wasn't so bad because, hey, at least we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but even so after a week of batting the cleaning lady away so I could get some peace and quiet "working from home" in room 115, the farthest room from the front door, I could no longer take her dirty looks when she would not accept that "NO I WOULD NOT LIKE THE ROOM CLEANED TODAY, THANK YOU, GOTTA GO, ON A CALL, GOOD-BYE."  

Although on second thought, maybe we should have gotten the room cleaned, because what the heck are these bites on my leg?! They were not there last night..Hmmm.... uhh....


Leave it to the Dr. to inspect we are finally living in a home that we actually own!!! (well we own a very small percent of it, but still!).

Along with all the stresses from months of house hunting, preceded by months of grueling job-searching and followed up by boxing up all our belongings, saying good-bye to good friends and neighbors, hiring movers, finding professional cleaners, finding temporary housing, driving a huge u-haul truck over the George Washington bridge, finding temporary storage, buying a car, dealing with lawyers, sellers, real estate agents, septic inspections, electrical repairs and the like, all while "working from an always changing home,".... I was also pretty stressed out about what would be our first new-home-owners photo.  It had to be good... blog-worthy!  I really, really wanted our first picture of our first legally-owned home to be of me in some daisy dukes, an american flag tank top and a coon-skin cap sitting on a John Deere tractro and Trevor with a plaid shirt and cowboy hat waving an American flag high... picture it now!

I was super grateful to find said American flag for sale at the Stop and Shop grocery store immediately after leaving the lawyers office after closing on the house and thought YES! it is a sign! Picture. Blog. Announcement. Boom!

Well it was a sign alright.. a sign that it is almost September 11th.  I got home and took a closer look at the flag and was disappointed (in a very mad then sad way) to find out that the flag is no ordinary American flag....but a 9-11 memorial flag...  with instead of white stars shining bright and proud, gray silhouettes of the towers are pictured as they once stood before thousands of Americans were murdered in the worst American tragedy of my time. And as much as I whole heartedly support America and its battle against terrorism, and I will absolutely never forget the events that took place during my first week of college life... I refuse to connect our first homeowners picture with such a sad, sad day....

And now what the heck am I going to do with this flag?  I feel too bad and guilty to try returning it.  I feel super weird trying to give it to someone. I don't really want to hang it up... So it is in the garage.  But hey, at least WE HAVE A GARAGE!

So we still haven't taken a new home owners photo, but perhaps we will soon when I have an even better idea and can manage to not screw it up!

In the meantime, here are some pics from the journey:
Saying good-bye is the worst!

so long 1137 Mass Ave.

Thanks for the memories!

Will miss the Donkey show crowd and proximity to Dunkin donuts!

Last time in a dirty coin-op laundry basement! Will not miss you!

Our beautiful little apartment

Key word: little

Let's get a move on!

Buy a car...check!

Anyway, I have been too busy to blog what with all the new exploring and experiments we have been doing in the new house... attempting to answer all the fun new scientific questions that come with owning a home like: What's this switch do? Where do you think that mark come from? What's this thing for?  Why's this making that noise? Is it supposed to work like that? Who should we call to fix that?  Is that still alive? And my personal favorite: What's that smell?

Another favorite... how do we keep these out of the house?

Trevor's new favorite treasure is a little, left-behind piece of gym equipment, which I took one look at and immediately thought "Oh hell no! that is going straight in the trash!".... But Trevor has a very unique talent for always seeing the good in things... He climbed right up on it, and gave it a try... I nearly peed my pants with laughter...Ok, ok! we can keep it!....for the nieces and nephews!... but it's staying in the basement.

Now that we are "settled" we have started a bit of decorating:


However, we have also kept some of the home's "original" charm... The previous owners were quite fond of the feline ....

Now we are all ready for our new nephew, Carstens, to come visit!