Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Failure of the Day: What’s Behind Door Number 3?

C’mon, everyone knows what’s behind door #3…it’s a new car!

I did not find the car buying experience to be as arduous as I’d heard it could be, and even Chris was pleasantly surprised. He spent most of the last week prepping me for The Hard Sell ("Oh I see you've got the moon roof...you'd be CRAZY not to get the bat guard, then!") But by and large, I think we did really well. It only took as long as it did because it turns out that they don’t let you lease a car if you’ve never purchased one before. Who knew? Two months of researching car leases and not one web site mentions that detail. So we spent the first hour setting up a lease and then had to change courses midstream and start the whole process over. And still, the whole deal was over in 3 hours.

So meet the 2006 4-door Honda Civic EX in Nighthawk Black Pearl. It does just about every fucking thing under the sun for you (Chris spent most of the day playing with the stereo—from the controls on the steering wheel). Yet it is still practical as the day is long: ultra low emissions, gas mileage that rivals a hybrid, and so many airbags you could practically use the thing as a floatation device. We are very happy with our car. Her name is Marguerite.

I myself am in about the state you’d imagine—alternately thrilled and convinced that I've brought doom onto us by brazenly assuming that things will be OK for long enough to pay the thing off. Of course, I’m still petrified to drive, but, as I shout gleefully at the TV whenever that commercial comes on that says” On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers”: I’m a passenger!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Failure of the Day: Head = Explode

Such a week I’ve had. On day 11 of my 12, count ‘em TWELVE working days in a row to get the documentation ready for a big “Larry event” at City Hall last week (yeah but no pressure or anything. If the richest guy in the world finds a typo I’m fired, but whatever), my department underwent some “restructuring” (Worst. Word. Ever.) and my position got somewhat altered. It’s looking like it will shake out to be a net plus for me, but for one 24-hour period, during which the definition of the new proofing department was somewhat nebulous, I had some of the...let’s call them “jitters.” Took Friday off though and am feeling much better now.
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I’ve always been a little insecure about my dreadful lack of knowledge (or, let’s face it, interest) in the classics of the Western canon. You would be appalled to know how many of those big towering literary figures I’ve never read. Hemmingway, Austen, Proust—not a word. Japanese fiction, sure, and contemporary authors of course, I’ve read a ton of those, but I’m not sure I’m ever going to fill that big ole hole in my literary knowledge. But then a lovely UK press called Canongate started putting out retellings of myths as novellas by contemporary writers. I’ve already read Weight, Jeanette Winterson’s version of the Atlas and Heracles story, and I’m working my way through The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood, told from the point of view of the 12 hanged maids. Both books are just incredible... beautifully written and completely fascinating. The publisher promises many more to come. A godsend for us literary types and our various blindspots...
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I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again: Battlestar motherfucking Galactica, people. I’m torn here because I know some of you don’t have cable and are watching only after the DVDs come out and I don’t want to ruin how great this is with a spoiler, but hybrid cylon blood cures cancer. OK? Cylon motherfucking blood cures cancer. Can you beat that? You can’t. You can’t beat that. Ka-blooey goes my head.
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The Seahawks! The Uberbowl! No one who reads this blog cares (OK, one person does) but we former Seattleites are beside ourselves. It's easier to enjoy 700 miles away from the beered up lugheads smearing green facepaint onto the jackets of passersby, of course, but enjoy it we do! Man! That was some kinda weekend!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Failure of the Day: The Momentous Shopping

2006 is the year. February is the month. I am many, many years late and significantly behind the curve. I genuinely expected to reach 40 without ever having done this. I genuinely expected that I would never do this. (Oh for chrissake, not that.)

I’m buying a car. A new car, and my first ever. And I'm not even 39 and a half yet.

Chris’s beloved 11-year-old Jetta is just about ready to go to the farm and frolic with the other Jettas that can’t live with their families anymore. It served us well over the years; it never even held a grudge against him for making it wear that horrible Grateful Dead sticker on its back window, although it would have been well within its rights.

Having determined it was time for new car, I began the shopping. I’m good at shopping; it’s one of those suburban Jewish girl things that no amount of subcultural lifestyle ever really rids one of. Chris loathes the car shopping and buying process, experienced as he is in the terribleness of the salesmen and The Little Room. But he hates talking to strangers under the best of circumstances, let alone when it’s someone whom you are fairly certain is picking your pocket every time you turn your head.

I am convinced it can’t be That Bad. What I’ve seen of it so far, which is mostly playing with “add options and price your vehicle” functions on the various manufacturers’ web sites, has been pretty cool. I am disappointed, though, that one cannot shop for cars by color, because that really would save me a lot of time. I have learned that not very many cars come in green, and of the ones that do, none are emphatically green. I can’t imagine why that is.

I'm petrified to drive of course. We're getting an automatic transmission so I can drive it if need be—the manual transmission in the Jetta requires WAY more coordination than I can muster. But that’s the thing: it dawned on me this month that one of the reasons I’ve driven a car 3 times in the last 15 years (and 2 of those times were in an empty parking lot with Chris screaming CLUTCH! CLUTCH!) is that driving is something that one does with one’s arm and legs, and I don’t trust my arms and legs for shit.

When we finally pick the one we want, and go get it and take it home, I will almost certainly be beside myself with excitement and joy, as I am in general about the gobsmackingly surprising turn my life has taken over these last few months and years. But for everyone's sake, be very glad that I'm only in charge of the shopping and Chris does the driving.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Failure of the Day: At Last

For those of you aching to know just what Chris got me for xmas, ache no more:

The self portrait is one of an edition of 13 lithographs, signed by Mr. Vonnegut. This isn't the exact one I got--mine is on letterhead from a Cape Cod SAAB dealership that says at the top: Kurt Vonnegut, Manager. Turn to page 136 in A Man Without a Country to view the stationary.

Try to imagine the enormity of my pure elation and delight...go on, try. You'll be way, way off. It's much bigger than that.