Category Archives: cars

#tbt: Moving back to California

Five years ago, Drew and I packed up most of our New York stuff, and drove back to California.


Thank God Jared was staying in the apartment, so there was a lot of stuff we could just leave – like our bed, couches, rugs, etc.

We basically packed all night while watching Roseanne. In the morning, Joe came over to help us load up the van.

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Also thank God we casually said, “Yeah, let’s upgrade to the largest size van you have.” We needed every square inch of space.

It took us three nights to get home, driving pretty much all the time. We were also doing Atkins at the time, so we weren’t even really stopping to eat very much…I’m not sure how we passed the time. I remember at some point we started playing Lingo out loud, and for awhile we listened to Rent…

I also took a lot of pictures out the passenger side window, so there’s a lot of semi-blurry landscape with window reflections. This was pre-smartphone.




(I’m pretty sure Drew took that picture.)

When we got to Nevada, we wanted to drive through to Reno so we could crash with Molly. But Nevada is insanely wide, and neither of us could keep our eyes open. So our final night on the road was spent in Elko, Nevada.

The next day, I drove us across the state line into California, and later Drew and I realized that whenever we’re in a car together, he may say “Do you want to drive?” to be nice, but I generally never do, and he generally always wants to. So now we don’t worry about taking turns to be nice to each other. A good lesson for our impending marriage.



It’s been FIVE YEARS since we came back. New York is drifting further and further away from us. But it’s still an indisputable part of our lives and of our relationship. I think a reunion may be in order.



Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, cars, Drew, Endings, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nature, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Travel

Throwback Thursday: Public Transpo

In honor of my new routine of taking BART to work, I’m throwing back to an NYC subway post from my LiveJournal. This post hails from Feb 23, 2009.


I just need to marry someone who has good vision coverage…

This morning on the train a manly man got on and stood next to me. While glancing over his shoulder (bored) I noticed he was reading a paperback copy of In Her Shoes. This delighted me secretly and I admired him for his casual reading of chick lit on a crowded New York subway. Glancing over again, I saw one of the chapter headings: “A Harder Task Than Making Bricks Without Straw.” Hmm, that doesn’t really sound like Jennifer Weiner. I squinted closer at the book title in italics on the top of the left-hand page. Up From Slavery. (It’s the autobiography of Booker T Washington. I looked it up on Amazon.)

I think I might need a new contact prescription.

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Filed under Books, cars, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Work

An Aux-cellent Decision

I spend a lot of time lamenting choices I’ve made: for example, I got in the wrong lane at Target, with the high-maintenance customer at the front of the line. Or, I bought lunch today even though I told myself ten times this morning not to do that. Usually, I took one freeway home when I should have taken the other. Etc.

But sometimes, I do something, and when the dust settles I just feel like I have to throw myself a parade because I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE.

This is one such thing:
photo (1)This is an aux cable, which I can use to play music (or audiobooks!) from my iPod or iPhone in the car. Drew and I went to Best Buy like a month ago to buy one, and it was a hassle to park and then to get the stroller inside, so when the only aux cable they had on the shelf was $22, I bought it because I didn’t want our trip to have been in vain.

But when I got home and checked Amazon, they had this baby for $1.57 with free (albeit super slow) shipping. I was like, Sorry Best Buy, and promptly ordered this one, and returned the Best Buy one later that week.

So yeah, this cable took awhile (like 3 weeks) to show up. But it’s perfect, and the cord retracts into the center piece until you pull it out, so it’s not flopping all over the place. I love it. So happy. I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE.


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Filed under Awesome, cars, Humor, Nonfiction

A 1-year-old is an unreliable wedding guest

A couple weeks ago, we took B to a wedding. A francy wedding.

(I meant fancy, but I accidentally typed francy, and I immediately fell in love with that new word I just created.)

This francy wedding took place at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. Drew and I were a little nervous about the whole day, for the following reasons:

a. wedding of a medium-close family member who might not be forgiving of 1-year-old antics;
b. ceremony at 3pm, reception at 6pm across the city;
c. our particular 1-year-old doesn’t always behave well in francy situations;
d. also we have to dress up

As a bonus thing to worry about, our car situation meant we were taking my parents’ bug, which is stick, so I had to drive.

We left plenty of time to get ready, get everything in the car, and get to SF. We got there about 10 minutes before 3:00, which was perfect. We parked right outside the church, which was perfect. I hopped into the backseat to pull B out of his carseat…and was greeted by an absolutely remarkable smell.

We opened the trunk (do you realize how small a VW bug trunk is??) and laid him down in it, button down shirt and all, to change his diaper. It wasn’t until I had the diaper half off, and Drew was digging through the diaper bag looking for the wipes, that I remembered I had used up the last wipe and forgotten to put a new package in. There were some exclamations of dismay. I mean, we were on the side of the road, outside a francy church, dressed in our best, trying to change our squirmy child in a trunk, and we had no wipes.

Luckily we had pacifier wipes, so we survived.

We got everything put together and went inside. The church was beautiful. We sat down in the back row, on the outside aisle, ignoring the waves from Drew’s family to come up and sit with them. Through a mixture of mouthing and mime, he told them, “Our kid is going to lose it so we need to be able to slip out quickly.”

We were sitting down for about 4 minutes, and the family members were being escorted in, when B opened his mouth and let out a “Aawwwk?” And then his eyes got big and he looked around, as he realized what a great echo there was in here. I jumped up and tried to jiggle him to keep him occupied, but once he started squawking, there was no turning around. We saw the bride come in, and then I ended up taking him out to the narthex, where we walked back and forth for the entirety of the service. Sometimes we went outside.

But B was smack in the middle of wanting to walk everywhere but needing to hold hands, so I spent an hour alternating between being kind of hunched over, and tossing his 25 pounds into the air to make him laugh.

After the service, we had all this time to kill, and we thought if we drove around he might take a nap in the car seat. Well, we were wrong. So we drove all around San Francisco, went up to Twin Peaks and got gas, and got caught in the worst ever traffic on the way downtown to the financial district, where the reception was.

Despite being the most anxious about the reception, it was actually really lovely. As soon as we got to the table, one of the waitstaff came over and said, “Do you want a high chair?” and Drew and I were both like, “YOU HAVE HIGH CHAIRS??” Also, the first toast of the evening was by the bride’s father, and rather than being champagne, it was a tequila shot with cinnamon and orange. So good. B lasted for a really long time before he started melting down (like 9pm – like 2 hours after his usual bedtime) – although right at the moment when we decided it was time to get him out, they started other toasts, and then one of the bridesmaids gave like a 15-minute toast and were trapped on the side of the room opposite the door.

Anyway. B’s first wedding, and it was francy, and it was inside a Catholic church, and it was late at night. And he did great!


Blurry backwards camera!

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Filed under Awesome, Baby, Beauty, Being a girl, cars, Children, Dreams, Drew, Family, Fashion, Food, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Sentiment, Travel

Under pressure

We have a new car.

I can see how car shopping might be fun, if you’ve got the luxury of time to look around, and you’re not planning the whole time about how you’re going to afford it, and you don’t have to go do test drives on your lunch breaks.

We looked around a bit in the evenings, but we always had to take B with us, and I’ll be straight with you: he can be kind of a drag sometimes. Like when you’re just trying to stand there under the stadium lights and see how many miles this Jetta has on it, and he’s shrieking because riding around in the umbrella stroller is no fun. Not to mention, you can’t test drive anything together because someone has to hang out with the kid and try to make car shopping fun.

We went on our lunch breaks a couple times, but those car salesmen (they’re always men) really drag things out, and you can really only look at one or two cars before you both have to get back to work before someone notices you’re missing.

We were under a lot of pressure to get a car purchased, because for the last 3 weeks I’d been driving my parents’ lime green VW Beetle, which was a lucky break. They just happened to be flying to Italy for the month of October, and planning to leave their car parked at our place anyway, a couple days after my old car (which I got last September) had some kind of crazy electrical malfunction, and burned mostly to a crisp.


(I’m okay.)

So. My parents’ vacation was nearing its end, and they were flying back to SFO on Monday, so we knew we needed to get this thing under control. So last Friday afternoon, Drew and B and I went to a new (used) car lot, one we hadn’t yet visited, to poke around. Almost immediately we spotted a new-looking gold 2008 Elantra…whose major selling point was the 22,000 miles on the odometer. I’ve never had a car with that few miles. I didn’t even know they could have that few miles. Don’t even new cars get that much just from the factory?

So we both test drove it (separately), then we dickered a bit with the salesman (who was super nice), then we said we needed to go talk about it and come back that evening. We walked back to the Beetle in a turmoil of emotions, and then stood there for a few minutes discussing it. We ended up turning around, marching back inside, and buying the car.

It’s going great so far and I think we made the right decision. Someone else would’ve snapped that thing up if we hadn’t.

Last Wednesday (five days later), on my way to work, I noticed that there was a light on on the dashboard. It wasn’t a light that I recognized, and I spent every traffic light flipping through the manual, trying to place it. Finally I found it: low tire pressure. When I got to work, the tires all looked good, but I was (am) still very cautious about this car, so on my lunch break I drove to Arco.

I thought the optimum PSI was printed on the tires but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I just made sure they were all about 32, which I thought sounded right. The air kicked off, so I got back in the car and started it – the light was still on. I googled “optimum tire pressure for a 2008 Elantra” and some anonymous person somewhere said it was 38. Okay. So I went back inside, asked the woman behind the counter to turn the air back on, and I filled the tires all to 38.

By this time, a girl had pulled up behind me and was waiting for the air. I finished up and she approached me and said she hadn’t done this before, so I kind of walked her through what she needed to do, feeling very good about myself and all my Car Skillz.

Then I got back in the car, started the engine – and the light was still on.

Drew had texted me, so I called him and told him about the light, and as I was saying, “Maybe your dad needs to take a look at it–” the low tire pressure light TURNED OFF! I started cheering for myself. (For some strange reason, he didn’t join in.)

Listen: it’s rare that I can
a) identify something is wrong with the car;
b) put my finger on exactly what that thing is; and
c) fix it by myself.

This calls for, like, a victory dance or something.

Which I did, in the front seat of the car, all the way back to work.

You gotta celebrate the little things sometimes.


Filed under cars, Drew, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Writing

Back in my day

In high school, I sucked at sports but my friends didn’t. So in order to hang out with them, I kept stats for the softball and girls’ basketball teams. Kind of dorky, but it was fun, and I was good at it, and I have a lot of good memories of away games (and home games too, for that matter).

But things would be very different if I were doing this in 2013. For example, two vanfuls of girls used to drive back from an away game in Ukiah or Willits or Fort Bragg or Colusa or wherever. When we got back to the high school parking lot, the one coach (a father of one of the girls) who had a portable phone would unpack this briefcase so we could all call our parents to come get us. The reception was terrible (likely the fault of the isolated county, and not the briefcase phone).



Oh, the good old days.

An even better example – but one that it’s possible I’m slightly misremembering – is the time we were headed up to Hoopa for a big annual softball tournament. (I think it was softball.)


This was a very exciting event for us, not least because it was so far away, and we would have to spend the night, and we could probably also fit in a trip to the big mall in Eureka. (No mall in our hometown!)

(I loved the Bayshore Mall growing up, but now Yelp gives it 2.5 stars and calls it a “small town mall.” Ouch.)

The way I remember it, we drove all night long, but now that I’m looking at the the driving time and everything…we probably just left early in the morning. I was in a car with our chemistry/physics teacher, beloved by everyone, his wife, and his daughter, who was on the team. Side note: I love everyone in their family. They were and still are awesome all around.

I remember sitting in the backseat in a pile of blanket and pillows, and driving through the dark. Marilyn was asleep in the far backseat. (Like I said, it was like 2am…right?) There was some weird station on the radio and they were playing Dr. Demento and some other similar song, and the only part of it I remember is an increasingly insane “Poppies poppies poppies poppies!”

When the internet first became the thing that it is today, I searched for that song a little bit, but now I think I prefer not to ever find it and know what it is.

It was pouring rain and I guess it eventually got light outside but I don’t really remember that part. I do remember arriving in Hoopa to find out that the fields had been completely flooded and the tournament was canceled.

I guess there was just someone hanging out at the school, telling everyone that it was canceled. And probably, they made some phone calls in the morning when they had to cancel the tourney. But if the only number they had was the school, and no one was at the school…and none of us had cell phones that the calls could have been relayed to anyway. So we made the entire probably 5-hour drive for no reason.

Well…not NO reason. We did go to the mall and go shopping and get lunch or whatever.

And then…we drove back home. I guess.

We were in Lakeport this weekend and so I’m being sweetly sentimental about a lot of late-90s/early-2000s things. But, I’m also very happy to have internet and a smartphone and all the improvements technology has brought into our lives. I’ll even take the complications.

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Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, cars, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Technology, Travel

The Circle of Life

Yesterday I got in the car and my left foot went automatically for the clutch, which isn’t there anymore.

That’s right. After eleven years, I’ve finally given up my little Saturn coupe in exchange for something bigger, sturdier, and safer. It comes none too soon, given that I’m due with my first baby in less than two weeks and, frankly, there was no way to fit a carseat in the tiny backseat of my Saturn.

I opted out of trying to sell the car. The Kelly Blue Book value was just embarrassing. It seemed like selling would be one hassle on top of another, and that wasn’t really something I was interested in taking on, especially when I stood to gain so little. Instead I looked into donation options, figuring that a tax write-off next year will be welcomed.

After choosing a worthy cause on which to bestow my 16-year-old donation, I filled out a brief online form and almost immediately got a phone call. Clearly, places that accept donations of cars are used to getting piles of car pieces that are mostly good for scrap metal. I was a little surprised at the questions: things like “How’s the body?” and “Is it in drivable condition?” Of course, I thought, I’ve been driving it every day. And the paint has some scratches but I somehow managed to stay body-damage free throughout those most reckless years known as “high school and college.” By the time we got off the phone, in my head, this baby was in mint-condition.

We decided on Saturday for the pickup. I was allowed to choose the time slot and I picked 10am to noon. This gave me enough time to take a little drive down Highway 1 in the morning, and reminisce about the good ol’ days. I figured I would be fine. I had come to terms with this. And I was trading up for something so much more important.

I got home from my excursion to Starbucks, and I was fine. When the pickup happened around 11:15, I met the guy outside to hand over the keys and sign off on the title. He looked up the street where he had parked the tow truck, and then asked me that now-familiar question, “Is it drivable?” Yes, I said, and he unlocked it, got in and started it up.

That’s when I felt that first hot sensation (not entirely unexpected) behind my eyes.

As he pulled away from the curb and up the street to the tow truck, I realized I didn’t want to watch any of this happen. Originally I’d thought I might take a picture of it on the tow truck (you know, for posterity?), but actually standing there, that idea just seemed sick.

I pretended the sun was too bright (absolutely not fooling Drew one bit), and shielded my eyes, and then turned around and walked into our apartment, dropping my donation receipt on the floor and going straight into the bathroom, where I proceeded to lose it in a way that both surprised and slightly embarrassed me.

It’s a car. It doesn’t have feelings. It’s not capable of thought. I know this rationally.

All I can offer in my defense is that I get attached to things. And after eleven years…well, this car was always there for me. Even when it was leaking oil and making the most intimidating growling sounds on cold mornings, it was a remarkably reliable little car. Especially since I didn’t always treat it as nicely as I could have.

I’m holding on to the idea that someone is going to do a little work to fix it up, and sell it at auction, hopefully to a young, fresh-faced kid who wants to drive a fun little 2-door with a iPod input and four relatively new tires. A kid who wants to get really good at playing real-life Tetris with all their possessions, who wants to teach their friends to drive stick, and who will learn some life lessons with this car in the background. Sixteen years is not all that old, after all, even for a car. It’s the circle of life, people.

And if you’re thinking I’m an emotional wreck…well, that’s probably true, also. Nine months pregnant, remember?

Originally published in the Lake County Record-Bee on 9/22/12


Filed under Being a girl, cars, Endings, Home improvements, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parents, Pregnancy, Sentiment, Writing

Parallel parking

I remember my dad teaching me to parallel park. The way it goes in my memory is that during one driving lesson when I was 15, he just announced that we were going to cover parallel parking so that I wasn’t one of those girls who can never do it. (He may not have actually said that, but that’s how it goes in my memory.)

I guess I took that very seriously. I have never liked anyone suggesting that I fit into the stereotype of the “female driver.” But I have taken special pride in parallel parking. I’m pretty good at it. It helps that I’m driving the same car I’ve been driving for 11 years, so I have a really stellar feel for the dimensions of the thing.

This is my parallel parking job from when I got home this evening. And yes, the spot I was parking in was a pretty good size. And honestly, this is slightly closer to the curb than I would usually shoot for. But still. This is one shot, on the first try.

Thanks, Dad!


Filed under Awesome, Being a girl, cars, Family, Memoir, Sentiment

Whining on Board

Dear people on the internet,

Why do you take such offense against these little yellow Baby on Board stickers that hang in car windows?

I mean, I kind of get it. I used to be one of you. I assumed that the sticker was there as a way to tell me to slow down and drive more carefully around the baby. I thought that was the equivalent of a mom shushing me in a public area where I should be allowed to talk freely, just because her child was sleeping. (In both cases, I should probably just restrain myself a little better. But also in both cases, I disliked having a stern stranger tell me what to do.)

Here’s a little story: once in high school, I was driving from Lakeport over to Fort Bragg. Between Willits and Fort Bragg is a 30-mile stretch of winding road through the trees – it’s gorgeous, but it’s one lane, with a single passing lane available about 10 miles in from the coast. There are plenty of places to pull over and let someone pass you, though.

I was stuck behind a car rattling along with a Baby on Board sticker. This car would not pull over, no matter that it had been nearly 20 miles, which was unbearable to me, a teenager in a 2-door car with a stick shift. Finally we approached the passing lane, which incidentally was on an uphill stretch, and as I moved over to pass…the jalopy sped up! I barely made it past them, and then I continued on my way…at which point that car tailgated me for the remaining 10 miles of the trip.

I reached the coast and pulled into the parking lot of a grocery store…where the jalopy pulled up behind me, parking me in, and an irate woman got out and began yelling at me about “almost running her off the road” and how she had “a baby in the backseat.” All I could do was stand there in shock (I have never been good at confrontation) – but what I wanted to snap back was that she had plenty of chances to let me pass, she didn’t have to speed up while I was passing her, and she certainly didn’t have to speed up in order to follow me the rest of the way.

So. She was crazy, and should not have behaved that way. Because of her I am now totally paranoid about being followed and trapped in a parking lot, and I always have a contingency plan if I think someone is tailing me.

But, here’s what I started out to say. I realized something, many years later.

The Baby on Board sticker is not there to tell you what to do: it’s just to alert you, the other driver, that the car with the baby is likely to drive slower, more cautiously, and to view yellow lights as “stop now” signals rather than “go very fast.” So if you need to adjust for that, then feel free. I’ll be here, in the right hand lane, signaling carefully and going the speed limit.

Hope this helps, whiny people on the internet!


Filed under "Other people", cars, Children, Memoir, Nature, Not awesome

Chasing Cars

Yesterday, when I left for work, a man came out of an apartment opposite me and crossed to a car two spaces away from mine. I paid attention to him because I was mentally calculating a) whether I would be out of the space behind his car by the time he pulled out; and b) whether I might be able to get out of my parking spot before he got of his. But he was moving pretty quickly, and he jumped in his SUV and drove away.

As I got into my car, a woman ran (not jogged) from the same direction as he had, and chased after his car. She looked kind of angry. Not like, “Darling, you forgot the lunch I packed you!” angry, but more like, “I can’t believe you bailed in the middle of our argument and are now driving away” angry. She chased him through most of the parking lot and then gave up and went back inside.

Last night, when I got home, a car was leaving the parking lot. As I parked, I watched a stocky guy come around the corner and then chase after the car. Not in an angry way – he kind of had this look on his face like, “I look stupid, and I’m wearing pajamas and it’s wet out here.” He jogged after the car around the corner, and then I didn’t see him come back, so I’m hoping he caught up. I wonder if I should have done something to help him. I could have honked maybe?

Anyway. Two people chasing cars in a 12-hour time span. Is this a sign of something? Should I get a dog? I don’t know.

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