Someone Wants Me

After upwards of 400 job applications submitted from the East Coast to the West Coast and the No Coast in between, finally someone wants me.

It took until the interview process to realize how much I actually want/need a job. I mean, I knew I needed one, but it wasn’t until something actually seemed promising that I felt that drive again.

I’ve loved the jobs I’ve had. And I haven’t had many. I started at Goodwill when I was 16 and worked there for almost four years, then at a car dealership for almost four years, then at NP Dodge for a year. Then London for three months while I finished my masters, followed by a couple years of unemployment and self-employment.

When the Target opportunity came up, it reminded me of the NP Dodge opportunity. When I was desperately trying to get away from the car dealership, I saw an opening for an escrow officer at NP Dodge and had no idea what that word even meant. I knew I fit most of the requirements and I knew that I was a quick learner, so I went ahead and applied on a whim. Much to my surprise, I was called in for an interview. I remember exactly what I wore. I had a great time in the interview and was told that they had a few others to do, so I should hear at some point. I went home and took a nap and was woken from that nap with a phone call: a job offer.

I ended up absolutely loving escrow and real estate. And I really excelled at it. After a few months, I was promoted to a salaried position and had a junior officer working under me. Soon after that, I was handling all of the REOs and FSBOs. It really killed me to leave. I know I wrote about it in here somewhere. It really did. I should have gone back, actually, after finishing my masters. I was just so sure that I’d land the perfect job in social media somewhere in New York.

Until I didn’t. I had quick-links at the top of my browser for HBO jobs, BBC jobs, BBC America jobs, AMC jobs, NBC jobs, ABC jobs, Discovery jobs, Time Warner jobs; pretty much every major network. I was on LinkedIn for hours every day scrolling through page after page of social media manager jobs and the like. I realized quickly that with the SM manager positions, they required anywhere from 1-5 years of experience. I applied anyway, but it was just one meme after another.

I had limited myself to the coasts, so I started pulling in from each direction. Okay, no one in New York or California wants me, maybe something in Connecticut or Washington? Okay, no one there, so maybe Colorado or Chicago? On top of that, I had started applying for whatever job was available at the places I actually wanted to work (the networks). Got a receptionist job open? Okay, hire me. Someone needed in the mail room? I’ll do it. Finally, I was applying for the same thing in Omaha, wondering if I’d ever be able to do anything remotely like I had dreamed.

When I moved to Minnesota with Andrew, I started looking around at anything surrounding me to see what kind of jobs were available. Lo and behold, the same IT/nursing jobs that were in Omaha were up here, too. i.e. nothing for which I was qualified. I found some social media or otherwise media-related positions open, but either I didn’t have the experience (cue the memes) or I just didn’t get the job in the end.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but just in case I haven’t: I know how extremely blessed and fortunate I am to having been able to support myself off of my savings/trust for so long whilst looking for a job. I wouldn’t have been able to do it, much like much else, without my grandparents having the foresight and ability to create such a thing. I think it also enabled me to not search as frantically, and it definitely allowed me to hold out for the right job. Even when I panicked and got anxiety about my dwindling savings, I knew I had at least another year, if I so needed. But then it’d be gone, and what would my grandparents say, if they could?

So in the midst of another mild panic attack regarding just that topic, I decided to see if there were any openings at this Target Express down the street. Yes, Target Express. Google it. It’s amazing. I’m obsessed with it. I’m possessive over it. I need one like, in my apartment. Anyway, there was a Team Lead position open. My first thought was, oh I don’t have any leadership experience – thinking, I’ve never had the title of ‘manager.’ But like the escrow officer situation, I did meet the other requirements, so I submitted an application.

Two days later, I got a call about coming in for an interview. That interview was life-changing, no joke. The woman I met with just totally turned my view around: I had loads of leadership experience, I had led many people and many situations. She told me to be confident in that. She even said that I was phenomenal. I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never gotten that compliment in my life. I walked out of that interview with my head held so high. And I actually had hope again. I didn’t even realize just how hopeless I’d become until she gave some hope back to me. I doubt very much I’ll ever have an interview quite like that again.

After that, I interviewed with that woman’s mentor, who has been with Target for as long as I’ve been on Earth. Then I got to move on to the next one, and the next one, and suddenly, I’m at the First Ever Target to make sure I will be a good fit. When the store leader of THE Target said she’d love to have me as part of her team, I legit got choked up right there in her office. Someone actually wants me. Someone actually sees value in me. Someone thinks I’d be a good addition to their team, their company. It had been so long.

I walked straight out onto the sales floor and bought a few pairs of khakis and a few red shirts.

My goal is to not only sail through training and rise in the ranks, but to hopefully express just how thankful and honored I truly am for this opportunity. I know I expressed in each interview just how much of a Target fangirl I am, but I mean, I’m actually sitting here in tears just writing this up.

Who knows what this opportunity has in store for me. And Andrew. And for us. I mean, this is going to help us with our goal to find a house in another year or so. This is going to save us so much money on groceries and everything else we need. Personally, this is going to give me something to do. Something to get me out of the house. Something to feel like I’m part of the human race again. I have worth again. I can get rid of the guilt I’ve felt for depleting my trust. Hell, I can better serve the purposes of Far From Everything Films. Just.. so many good things.

Oh, one of my favorite parts: I had forgotten to take my lip ring out when I was meeting with HR, so I apologized for it. She said, “so what? You can wear that here.”

I have half of my head shaved, gauged ears, and a lip piercing, and all of that is okay. (Here come the tears again). Seriously, it’s never been okay. I had to ask/beg permission to put blue in my hair while I was at Goodwill. I got written up at Woodhouse for forgetting to take out my lip piercing. The head on the stud was stuck and I couldn’t get it off without greasy pliers from the service department, cutting up my lip in the process. I couldn’t wear it at NP Dodge either. Nor do I remember having any sort of wild hair along the way.

Now it’s okay. Now I’m okay just as I am. Not like these things make me who I am, but they are part of me. And they’re okay. What a relief.

This whole situation is such a relief. Finally, someone wants me. Target wants me. And Target wants me for me.

 


 

Speaking of someone wanting me, I’m also blessed to have a partner who wants me, and wants me for me. In spite of the fact that I worry too much and I’m a shit and I’m petty and I hardly ever put any effort into my appearance (subject to change with impending job) and I never help with the dishes and leave hair in the shower and otherwise leave the house a mess and whine when he stays at work late and whine just a lot of the time, probably, and make the occasional comment about wanting a ring and a baby and a house and an additional dog (or four) and all these other things, he seems to love me and even like me.

I’d quote a bunch of Sara Bareilles lyrics now, but I’ve already wept enough during this post.

It’s February First

In case you hadn’t checked the date yet today.

To me, it feels more like New Years Day than New Years Day did.

The beginning of the year was packed with traveling and Christmas and more traveling and more Christmas… and more traveling and more Christmas… and then one more traveling to get home. We ate and ate and ate and ate some more, and slept like shit on an air mattress and a full-sized bed.

On top of all that, I had finally received the demand letter which was to go to the drunk driver’s insurance company so we can finally settle this damn thing. I learned that he had gotten picked up while driving under revocation and I think I laughed for about an hour. I could have bet anyone any amount of money that he would have done that and I would have won whatever amount of money I had bet. Some people just don’t learn. I had typed up an entry ten days after his sentencing a year ago about how I desperately hoped that he had gotten the wake-up call he needed and that every day since the accident had been filled with reevaluation and change.

Guess not. Idiot.

The days after traveling were filled with sleep, laziness, Fallout 4, and more laziness. It was amazing. Andrew was off of work, waiting to start his new job, so we got to actually spend time together. Even though, toward the end, he started getting cabin fever, I was so damn happy to have him home. We hadn’t gotten that kind of time together since… I don’t know when. It was a nice prize after suffering through his shitty Pac Sun hours.

Then, as he was about to start his new job at Target, I decided to check out the Target site for any openings. There’s a Target Express just right down the street that I’m obsessed with, and they happened to have a Team Lead position available. I applied, even though I had never been in a management position. A day or two later, I got a call to set up an interview.

Since then, I’ve had two additional interviews, and I’m just waiting on pins and needles for The Call. Whatever the decision may be. I’m always a hopeful, err-on-the-side-of-positive person, and I feel like I’ve got the job already. It’s one of those things where I went into it thinking, ‘this would be great, I love Target, I could probably do this job’ and since that first interview, I know this is the job I should have, it’s the job I deserve, and it’s the job at which I’m going to excel.

Then again, I may not get it. Maybe it’s not the right time, maybe it’s not the right any-number-of-things.

We’ll see.

Still doing film production, as if I could give that up. Brentwood Strangler, the short we produced, has won a few film festival awards, and we’re to be filming our first feature film this spring/summer in Australia. I’m so excited to head back to Oz and see my twins! 2016 is really shaping up to be a good year so far.

Also, in the mean time, since all the travel and eating, I’ve changed my diet; I lost the six or so pounds I gained over the holidays, putting me back to where I started. Today, I’m starting the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge and a five-day workout split. I’ve got a renewed sense of, I don’t know, purpose? I guess? I’ve been visualizing myself doing these lifts and taking progress pictures and, much like with the Target job, I just feel like I’ve already accomplished what I set out to do.

I’m going to be twenty-eight this year. [Jesus]. It’s time I embrace being an adult and take care of what needs care. My body, my mind, my bank account. I got a nice little preparatory month and now the real shit is going to go down. It’s February First and the New Year is officially underway.

What Is Life

Almost a month ago, I spent my last night in Omaha.

Most of my things were moved already, and all that remained were a few odds and ends, and my furniture.

The morning of the big move, I was seriously anxious. What was going to go wrong? What was going to get broken? What if this happens? What if that happens? I was also very emotional, even though I tried my hardest not to be.

My parents showed up to say goodbye; mom was a bit weepy and, of course, my dad says the things I always need to hear: I am worthy, I deserve everything I want, I can do anything I want to do, and I am loved. So, there went the tears. My brother showed up a bit later and stayed with me until just before I hit the road. He helped calm me down and let me know on his way out how well the moving truck was being packed. Phew.

The drive up here went by quickly and slowly at the same time. I got caught in five o’clock traffic just two miles from my exit and I was absolutely livid. I just wanted to be there!

That evening, and the week after, are a total blur of unpacking, buying shelving units and other fun IKEA things, building said things, hanging photos, organizing the kitchen, organizing the closets, etc. Oh, and sleeping poorly because one huge window in our bedroom was missing blinds. Waking with the sun every morning, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before, was aggravating as hell. And didn’t really restore me for a new day of work.

By the next week, we were already looking at puppies to adopt. I got Andrew caught up in the search and essentially all of our texts consisted of puppy photos all day. We knew we wanted a bigger dog and we wanted to adopt a rescue. In looking at the adoption process, I got discouraged. An application, an interview, references, a meeting, a home visit?! Jesus Christ, are we adopting a child? Applying for a government job? I had no idea it was so thorough and difficult. I understood and completely support the method behind the madness, but for those of us normal, decent human beings who aren’t going to chain the dog up outside 24/7… ugh.

We ended up applying for a dog that we totally fell in love with and then got denied because another couple was ahead of us in the process. Then we applied for a couple more and the same thing happened. At this point, I’m going, Jesus Christ, I’d almost rather pay double to just get one from a pet shop. But instead, we applied for a few more.

Finally (I say, finally; it was probably like, within a couple days), we got invited to go meet one of the puppies. He was adorable and cuddly and I think Andrew was pretty goddamn set on him. We fell asleep that night discussing ridiculous names, such as: Sterling The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers versus The University of Iowa Hawkeyes… [last name].

We communicated to the foster mom and the lady from the shelter that we indeed wanted this little pup… and then we never heard anything from the shelter.

Then, in true things-happen-for-a-reason fashion, the day I was bitching about the lack of communication and consideration, I got a call from another foster mom about another puppy we’d applied for. Apparently the people who wanted her were having trouble coming up with the adoption fee (red flag, much?), so if we want her, she’s ours.

I think this was a Wednesday. We set up a meeting for Friday, we filmed a home video (in lieu of a home visit) Thursday, we drove an hour to meet her Friday, and that night, we brought her home.

Meet Olive Adventure (and insert heart-eyes emoji):
Olive Adventure

She’s a (now) nine-week old Shepherd Mix. We aren’t sure what she’s mixed with, but we’re pretty sure that it’s a wirehair of some kind. She’s a joy and a laugh and a little shit and a snuggler and a whiner and so sociable and sweet. She’s super outgoing; she’ll go up to anyone and any dog. She wants to play with everyone. She doesn’t like being hot and will whine (kinda like me) and she has recently started fording the stream in the park across the street.
Olive in the stream

Andrew and I are now ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy’ and we’re just totally in love. (Cue: ‘awww’)

We’ve had her a week and a half now and, well, she’s exhausting. ‘Daddy’ is at work five days a week, so ‘mommy’ has to do the most potty breaks and cleaning up accidents and trying to get her to stop biting or chewing on absolutely everything. Not to mention, she’s up with Andrew when he gets up for work (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6am). So yeah, I’m getting a spa afternoon on Thursday lol

Adding to the frustration, I’m getting paranoid about my dwindling savings, so I’ve resumed the job hunt… again. I’m being fairly goddamn picky because I just am, but I want it to be within walking distance (which isn’t a huge ask, seeing as we’re downtown), part-time so I can be home with bb most of the time, and not a receptionist or food service job. Actually, what I’d really like to do is some writing from home. If only I could get myself to finish that ‘novel’ I started.

I’ve also resumed the fitness journey. Buzzfeed posted that circuit workout a couple weeks ago and I’m on the third week today. You’re supposed to up the weight each week; I started with 10lb dumbbells. Because the tiny rec in my building didn’t have 12s, I had to go straight to 15s… And to be consistent, I need to use 20s tonight. I’m a tad nervous I won’t be able to do it all, because I also have to up the reps by two. I don’t know how much physical change I’ll see in two more weeks, and I haven’t weighed myself because fuck the scale, but who knows. I’ll prob just keep going with it and eventually be curling 50s LOL

Anyway, I love Saint Paul. I keep saying it’s like Omaha and London had a baby because it really does feel like home and the city I adore. Our apartment is brilliantly located a block from the train and ten meters from the park, a few blocks from the river and a half-mile from Starbucks (win). There are a bunch of microbreweries and awesome restaurants within walking distance and anything else is on the trainline. I probably came up here with 6100 miles on my car, and I noticed the odometer read 6171 today. So, about seventy miles in almost a month? Not fucking bad.

The only driving I do now is to the chiropractor, which is still only about seven miles away. It’s a different technique than I was getting in Omaha, but apparently, this is the next step in my treatment that makes the most sense. Here’s to hoping I get back to 100% after a couple months of this. I got really emotional when I had my consultation with the new bonebreak. It just dredges up all of the accident memories and memories of all the pain. It’s almost been a year and I’m still dealing with everything. Thank God for Andrew, seriously. What a loving, caring, thoughtful support system I have. I’m embarrassingly lucky to have him. And my family, holy shit.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Enough Doors: A Short Story by Nina Friis

Graham knew when he found the house. He knew. He just knew.

Actually, he’d found some sort of house. Some sort of dwelling.

It was a tiny, brick building built into the hillside. He’d practically run into it after struggling out of the ravine.

It was empty. Of inhabitants, anyway. There was a table and stool, some ratty shirts hanging in the open closet, odds and ends and cobwebs everywhere else. He couldn’t see much through the rain-stained, dusty window.

He tried the door. It wasn’t much of a door. It was thick plywood with a lock. No lintel. And no budging it.

There was a garage door. Strange, he thought. That wouldn’t budge either.

He could break it down; he could break it all down. It was a pile of rubbish.

He looked through the window again. This time, he saw one of the shirts rustling in the closet. There must be a breeze coming through the other side.

Graham squinted as he remembered there was no other side. He worried his bottom lip and pushed back from the window. Narrowly missing the railroad tie behind him, he walked up the grass by the side of the house.

He couldn’t quite tell, but nestled among the trees, there appeared to be a large, dark metal shed.

Another locked door and another locked garage door. No windows to peer through this time.

Beside the shed was a gravel road lined with trees. Perhaps he’d found the driveway.

The gravel road led directly to another shed. White. Wooden. The door wedged closed with a log.

The log was easy enough to twist and roll off of the door. It slipped against the worn timber and clunked to the ground.

Graham instinctually looked around, but knew he wouldn’t have roused anyone in the vicinity. There was no one in the vicinity.

He fed his fingers through the opening of the door and pulled it open. After only a few inches, it got caught up on some rocks, the rocks acting like a foyer runner, hindering the door’s ability.

Kicking the rocks away, he was able to incrementally shove the door further and further open.

He coughed on the God-knows-how-many-year’s-worth-of dust and waved his hand in front of his face.

Until now, he’d made his way by what little sight he had and by feel. Now, inside this shed, he fished his mobile out of his pocket.

Graham flicked on the phone’s flashlight with his thumb. He swept the light back and forth slowly, waiting for a reflection of something, anything.

He raised the phone over his head to see into the rafters. Only planks of wood. A few belts, maybe for an old tractor.

He heard the door scrape across the rocks behind him. Fight or flight kicked in immediately, but as soon as he made to face either certain death or certain arrest, the door had stopped moving and remained propped mostly open.

With his heart rate sped up, he decided the shed wasn’t haunted, nor was it worth a heart attack. He gingerly pressed his fingertips to the door, expecting some sort of resistance. It required little at all, in fact, as he exited the old shed.

He looked down at the rocks and noticed that they seemed less rucked up like a rug and more smoothed away. Well, he did that, right? When he had to get the door open in the first place. Yeah. That’s right.

Graham took a deep breath and looked up at the giant Christmas trees that met him. His mobile flashlight was still in use, so he shined it at the tall pines.

It looked like a balcony had been built out of the top of one of them. Clearly not right.

That’s when there was a glint off of some glass.

Lots of glass.

Holy shit, there’s an actual house on this property.

He walked around to the wooden deck behind the trees. It was attached to a two-story house.

He couldn’t see a door, so he walked to his right, following the edge of the concrete foundation.

In the darkness, he could make out the length of an exterior wall that met another wall perpendicularly.

A few steps further revealed another jut of a wing and another deck. The house seemed to wrap around him as he got closer.

Graham turned off his flashlight and followed the line of the house, nearly running straight into an air conditioning unit and then even more nearly off of a retaining wall.

Below the retaining wall was a landing and a door. It was a double-wide door with no window.

This couldn’t be a house. Maybe a business. But the sheds… no, this had to be a house.

Past the door, he came up against the other wing of the house and felt his way along until he reached a corner.

He was under the other deck now, and on yet another landing, there was yet another door. This door was mostly glass, but had the blinds drawn tight.

He dumbly tried the handle. Locked, of course.

To his right, he followed the concrete landing with his eyes and made out the ridge of a step. He peered around the corner to find a winding trail of concrete stairs and an overgrown sidewalk.

He got out his flashlight again and trained it on his path.

It was a low-grade staircase, but fighting the long-dead hostas was treacherous, even with light.

About halfway up, the concrete disappeared altogether. It was completely littered with fallen branches and twigs.

Graham crouched to hold his phone closer to the ground. He walked with flat feet over the limbs, correcting here and there to maintain balance.

Finally out of the thicket, he began to straighten back up. He stretched his back and rolled his shoulders. How long had he been hunched over?

He twisted round and shone the flashlight down the path, seeing only a few steps and then the corner of the house.

It couldn’t be. It looked only about ten meters away.

“Bullshit,” he said aloud to no one, and looked down at the ground in preparation to head back. He had to check again, this time without being so careful.

He was about to take his first step toward verification when he felt a whoosh in front of his face.

He jumped back just as the branch hit the ground loudly.

He looked up, like there was someone up there to yell at about it.

Not wanting to test his luck, he turned around and continued up the path.

Rounding the corner, he ducked beneath the low branches of rotten fruit tree.

River rocks skittered across the sidewalk as he stepped free. He moved his phone to light his surroundings. He seemed to be standing in a yard now. A front yard. Yes, there was an actual driveway past a tree.

This was definitely a house.

Graham followed the rest of the sidewalk that ran in front of it.

It passed a bank of two windows jutting from the siding. Must be a windowseat.

The sidewalk curved around some overgrown landscaping and ended with two names written by finger in the wet cement, long-since dried.

Just past the names was a step to a porch.

Shining his light up at the front door, he noticed an official-looking piece of paper affixed behind the glass.

He stepped up onto the porch and reached for the door handle. Locked, naturally.

He held the light up above the paper and read: VACANT. PRIVATE PROPERTY. NO TRESPASSING. LAST INSPECTION: 05/2012.

There was a list of previous inspection dates, like the ones you find in restaurant bathrooms.

It either hadn’t been inspected in over two years, or the inspectors have neglected to mark the sheet.

He expected the former.

Graham looked behind him at the driveway. It was a long driveway. Leading up to a bend in the road: a road that looked as abandoned as the house.

He walked the length of the porch and came to another bank of windows. Another windowseat.

He cupped his hands around his eyes and leant up to the glass.

There was hardly any visibility, of course. And nothing to see, anyway. Some bits of packing materials strewn about on the dark carpet, light tile in the entryway, French doors leading to another room.

He straightened up. There was a step down to the garage door.

He saw a keypad on the door frame. He punched a few buttons and hit the pound key. It beeped at him, but nothing else happened. He knew nothing would.

He turned around and looked at the flat expanse of the driveway before him. An almost-burnt-out streetlight hummed near the end. A lot of help that was providing.

He looked to his left and saw what looked like yet another sidewalk leading around the house.

Graham kept his flashlight in front of him as he went around the corner. He swept the light around and found, “Jesus Christ,” another shed.

He kept walking, ignoring the millionth shed, until he had to round another corner to, “fucking hell,” another deck.

Shaking his head, he took the first step up. The unused wood groaned under his foot.

He paused, one foot on the step and the other just with the toe of his shoe grazing the ground. Slowly, he straightened his leg and brought his other foot to the next step.

Testing it with two heavy presses, he determined that it was sound and hopped quickly up the next two to the top.

He let out a sigh of relief and found a sliding glass door ahead of him. He checked it.

Locked.

He tried to get a good look through it, but there were thick blinds blocking his view.

He stepped back and walked to the end of the deck. There was a built-in bench that went all the way around. He knelt on it and looked out into the darkness.

He could see the large, metal shed he passed earlier. He thought about it; it seemed like ages ago.

He stood up and sighed. Maybe there’s something interesting in the new shed.

As he turned around, he moved his light to relocate the stairs. As the light passed the glass door, he spotted movement: the blinds were swaying gently.

Graham stared at the blinds moving on their own. Or what must be on their own, because, well, the house is vacant. Or should be.

He stayed frozen there on the deck, light fixed on the blinds, wondering again if he was facing certain death or certain arrest. Or certain insanity.

Finally, he decided that he should probably run. Just in case.

He kept his eyes on the blinds until he shifted the flashlight back toward the stairs for a quick getaway.

This is when he found yet. another. door.

He gaped at it. Just how many goddamn doors and decks and sheds does this property have.

He told himself that everything is locked. It doesn’t matter. He just needs to go. He’s been lucky so far and his luck won’t last forever. He should go.

After he tries this last door.

Graham decided not to take a last glance over at the blinds and just head straight for the door.

Which opened for him.

He stumbled into a pressing darkness. He saw the tiniest sliver of light ahead of him. He was in the garage.

He searched with his phone and found nothing but empty shelves.

And, expectedly, another door.

This one had to be open. Suddenly, his faith was in success and not failure.

He reached out and grasped the handle. He shone his light at the door and a compact, white box caught his eye.

It was a burglar alarm.

Shit.

There was a little, green light that said, READY.

He lit the box directly and saw that there was a light over the word ARMED that was not glowing.

He worried his top lip, for variety’s sake. If the alarm is hooked up, he can just run right back out the door and back into the woods.

If it’s not, well.

Graham took a deep breath and twisted the doorknob.

It went willingly with his hand.

He hesitated before pushing it open.

Moment of truth.

He let out the held breath and took in another.

He gathered potential energy in his arm and mentally counted to three.

On three, he shoved the door open and jumped back off the step.

There was a momentary panic as he heard a loud, rapid beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.

And then it was silent.

Five beeps. That couldn’t have been the alarm.

He waited a full minute, straining his ears to hear God-knows-what.

And heard nothing.

He realized he’d been breathing incredibly shallowly and took a few relieving gulps of air.

He rolled his eyes at himself and stepped back to the door to the house.

He crossed the threshold and then froze.

It was pitch black.

Stress is like Punching Someone through Molasses

Last night, I dreamt that it was the day of my best friend’s wedding and my other best friend, a fellow bridesmaid, reminded me that we’d not yet bought our dresses. For the wedding. That day. She goes, “Let’s just run to Target really quick.”

On our way through the parking garage (wherever we were), I stopped at my car to get something, and these five or six young guys started toward me. I thought about trying to hide behind the car, but figured they’d find me anyway, so I just sort of faced them. Two of them had ballpoint pens aimed at me like weapons and the others were unarmed, but still circling around me and being threatening.

I decided I needed to come out swinging, literally, and brought my arm back to land a punch on one of the punks.

As per usual, as per every single dream where I’ve tried to fight someone, my fist took about thirty seconds to reach the kid’s face. I don’t know what that is in miles-per-hour or force or whatever, but it’s pretty goddamn slow and pretty goddamn weak. Ineffective, to say the least.

It didn’t matter whether I threw a punch with my left or right, neither of them would do any good. Or any harm, I should say.

Kicks were the same way.

I even got the pens away from the losers at one point and were attempting to stab them. Nothing. Probably didn’t even leave an ink mark on their shirts.

Not only is this frightening, but it’s stressful. And it arouses many questions. Why can’t I defend myself? If I don’t defend myself, I’m going to get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. Why am I so weak?

Every. single. dream. involving a fight.

And usually, I have these dreams when I’m anxious about something. So the fact that I can’t defend myself or I’m too weak to inflict any harm on someone who is trying to harm me doesn’t really help with my anxiety or stress.

I’m sure I could make some claim about how I’m feeling helpless IRL so it’s translating into the dream. It’s just cyclical. Like, it’s bothered me all goddamn day.

I’m feeling anxious and stressed out and helpless and fearful because of the drunk’s upcoming hearing on Thursday. I won’t even be doing anything; I don’t even have to go, technically. I just want to go so that I can hear him plead and hear his fate. I don’t even think he’ll receive sentencing; who knows. I just can’t not go. I can’t sit at home and wait to hear what’s next. That’s all I’ve fucking been able to do since this accident. Sit at home, receive bills, send emails, see doctors, make phone calls to hospitals/insurance/bill collectors. It’s been truly maddening.

I just want it all to be over. I want my medical bills paid, I want to be healed and healthy again, I want to wake up and not wonder who or what related to the case I’ll have to deal with that day.

I know complaining makes little-to-no sense. If I had chosen this, I wouldn’t be able to complain; this is just something that happened, so I shouldn’t complain. The thing is, though, that it’s something that shouldn’t have happened. Something that didn’t need to happen.

This has been the longest slow-motion punch and I desperately need it to make contact and inflict damage. For once.

Heartache, Hope, and Headache

Lord have mercy.

When life changes, it certainly changes. Back in early November, I matched with someone on Tinder. I know. Tinder. Gag. I’d matched with a few people before, met with one, nothing worked out. I decided to delete the app and start over with it. I wasn’t sure what that was going to accomplish, but I digress.

I swiped right on a few guys and then came across this guy named Andrew. His instagram was in his bio, so I creeped. I really appreciated being able to do that because I got a sense of his personality and humor. He seemed sarcastic and into puns, quite like myself. Then I accidentally double-tapped one of his photos. Fuck.

Now, I could have unliked it, deleted tinder, and crawled under a rock, but that would have been a ridiculous overreaction. I went back into the tinder app and swiped right.

Shortly thereafter, he swiped right for me, creating a match. Ta-da.

I decided to be brave and send the first message. His bio said something about dad jokes, of which I am a master, so I messaged him some dumb comment about the aforementioned. It took a day or so (cue me biting my nails) and then he responded.

Within a very short time, he’d impressed the pants off of me. Well, okay, conversationally, anyway. We had several things in common, he seemed very gentlemanly and genuine – even over a tinder chat. He ended up asking for my number.

We texted a bit every day – good conversation, no small talk. Then a couple days later, I got a not-so-great message.

My mom called me and said that my Nana had taken a turn for the worse and likely had about two-to-three weeks left. She’d just been given her Last Rites since it’s getting to be about that time. I’d wavered on whether or not I wanted to go see her one last time. She’d had Alzheimer’s for years now and looked right through me when I saw her last Christmas. Selfishly, it wasn’t something I wanted to go through again.

Then Friday, 14th of November, mom called in the afternoon to say that Nana’s prognosis had moved from two-to-three weeks to two-to-three days. I wavered again about whether to run down to the home and see her, but the thought seeing her in her current state just about paralyzed me. She wouldn’t recognize me, she’s probably in pain, she’s sleeping anyway, etc. I decided to stay home, but I would talk to my brother about potentially going to see her the next day.

That visit never came, because around 11pm that night, mom’s name showed up on my phone. I knew right away what had happened, and my instincts were confirmed when she said, “this is the call.”

My beloved Nana had died. Those words are bitter in my mouth.

Sweet Nana is finally in Heaven and out of pain.

I needed to go for a drive.

I drove to Nana’s old house. There are new owners now and they were home, looking out the window for whatever reason, so I couldn’t stay. I wanted to sit in the driveway and look at it. I wanted to sit and imagine all the million times we walked or biked down the road to her house for frosted ginger cookies and milk. All the Halloweens we’d trick-or-treated and gotten loads of candy from her at the front door. All the Christmases we’d helped trim her tree with ancient ornaments and strands of tinsel that we got all over the floor. I wanted to imagine sitting on her dusty rose-colored couch and glanced over to her in her rocking chair – seeing her knitting a new scarf or blanket.

I wanted to get out of the car and walk around back to the garden. I wanted to picture her kneeling, in her skirt, on one of those foam knee-protectors and digging holes for new bulbs or annuals or perennials. I wanted to help pull weeds and put soil in behind the flowers she’d relocate. I wanted to say, “look, Nana!” and hear, “Isn’t that nice” in her way, where it isn’t a question, actually.

I thought about all the times we’d gone in her light blue Oldsmobile, and later her pearlescent Geo Metro, to the library. The only reason I had a library card was because of her. I thought about the walks up to Ponca, the jumping in puddles, the blowing bubbles, the reading; the painstaking time she would spend putting my hair up in curlers and wrapping a silk scarf around so I can walk home, the way she answered the phone (“erm, hello”) in her way, where it really isn’t a question, again, actually.

Nana was one of those people who I pictured having in my life until I was old and grey. She’d just always be there somehow. And now she’s gone.

When my parents first hired her, I was about six months old. She came looking slightly like a 1940s war nurse and told them that she would be addressed as Mrs Meyer. It wasn’t long before she was Nana; my Nana.

I drove back to my neighborhood that night and sat in my car for ages listening to music. I had been texting Andrew sporadically due to it being the middle of the night, the news, and the drive. I suddenly felt very strongly that I should just be honest with him about what had happened. We’d been talking such a short time and we didn’t even know each other, but I needed to see right then and there how this was going to go.

Either he would say no, we barely know each other, I don’t need this right now, I’m out with friends (he was out at the bar with friends, I knew); or he wouldn’t say any of those things. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t react like the former. And he didn’t. he said he was so sorry and he wished there was something he could do; if he wasn’t drinking, he’d drive out to see me.

We talked about sad music and how happy music doesn’t actually help when you’re sad because you can’t relate to it in the moment. He sent me a youtube link and said it always helped him. I thought, great, what is this shit going to be. I clicked on the link and as soon as the title popped up, my heart skipped a beat: Morning in May by Ludo.

No one knows Ludo. And anyone who might have heard Ludo certainly hasn’t heard the Broken Bride album. But here this stranger was, sending me the song from Broken Bride that never fails to bring me to tears.

This discovery turned into a conversation lasting until 3am, even though he had to work early. He made me smile and even laugh that night, one of the worst nights in my life. I couldn’t help but think that God had all of this planned from the start. Hell, I’m pretty sure Nana had a hand in this. If I hadn’t been texting him that night, I’d have been alone in my thoughts and feelings. Everyone else was asleep or out of town. Nana took care of that. She was a caregiver til the end.

A couple days later, Andrew and I had our first date planned. I hadn’t had those butterflies in a long time. I didn’t want to spend too much time getting ready or coming up with any speeches or whatever. I was gonna be me and that was it. Furthermore, I wanted to be myself, not ‘better.’ I finally had hope again.

The date went amazingly. I knew I was in trouble from the get-go. And the best part was that he felt the same way. He asked to see me a few days later and did I say I was in trouble? Because I was in big, fucking trouble. Wow.

I’m being quite vague, I know. I just- well, this is very precious to me.

It hasn’t yet been two months, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt happier, more comfortable, and more like myself.

And then since it can’t be all sunshine and roses, the continued car accident stress..

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor three times a week. My body was working 42% harder than it should have been. (Not sure if I ever talked about the scans). My nerves had practically shut down. It’s getting a bit better; it’s changing anyway. I had an MRI on my right foot, come to find out that I have two fractured toes. That explains a lot. I have patella baja (shortened patella) in both knees thanks to the trauma. My wrists (left much more so than right) are still weak. Some bones in my chest pop if I stretch. Oh yeah, and I’ll need to start physical therapy now that the holidays are over.

The court date for the driver-at-fault drunk to enter his plea is in a week. I wonder how the past four-almost-five months have been for him. I see, via public record, that he’s just bought a house. Can’t be going too badly then.

Meanwhile, I’m just broken. Sure, it didn’t kill me. It could have, but it didn’t. It still could, but I won’t let it. What it did was make me weaker. Angrier. Cynical. It made me scared. It made me paranoid. It has taken so much from me and continues to take more.

Meanwhile, I’m the one who’s been in prison.

What Keeps Me Awake Now

Sunday, my dad invited us over for homemade pizza. “Aw yiss,” I answered with much enthusiasm. It’d been ages since he’d made pizza. I got the details from my brother and set my phone down.
Suddenly, I thought about what he’d said. “Pizza at dad’s.” “At dad’s.” Oh my God, I’d have to drive to dad’s. I started to panic. Okay, well, I could just take this back way and weave through the neighborhood so I avoid the street where I was hit. Then I could just park and walk to his place. But which way should I take? I don’t even want to take Center. I’ll take the interstate to I. No. I’ll take Center, but I’ll turn off on 132nd or something; maybe I can find the neighborhood that way. Then I’ll park and walk.
Wait. Maybe Conor can just pick me up. Then he can drive me. No. That’s stupid. Why don’t I just drive to his place and then he can drive me.
No sooner had I had that thought, Conor texted me: “Just drive over here and I’ll drive us to dad’s!”
Tears of relief hit me as I texted him back that I was literally just thinking the same thing. Panic attack averted.

I closed my eyes as he turned onto 120th Street. I know Mary was trying to talk to me, but I heard nothing. I didn’t open my eyes until we stopped in dad’s driveway.

Tonight, it started snowing. As soon as I saw a tweet about it, I jumped up and rushed to the deck. I was overjoyed – I love snow. It’s beautiful and calming and quieting and ’tis the season. I stood out on the deck for a moment and let it land in my hair. It was bliss.
As soon as I had sat back down and wrapped up in a blanket, I realized, with horror, that I would have to drive in it come morning for my orthopod appointment.
Now. I have never been fearful of driving in the snow. Or rain. Or wind. Or whatever inclement weather we get in Nebraska. (Okay, not hail). The only reason I’ve ever complained about driving in it is because it seems like everyone else in Omaha forgot how to operate a motored vehicle at the most inopportune moment. Just slow the fuck down and be aware of some things and it’s just like driving any other day: don’t be an asshole.
However, I now have to drive in weather with people I already don’t trust.

I want to call and change my appointment. Can it wait until another day? Not the first day of snow. I’ve been rear-ended on dry pavement. I’ve been hit head-on on dry pavement. Now there’s snow. People can’t have remembered their snow tires already; it’s so early. People aren’t ready for this; they’ve forgotten how to drive in it. Please don’t make me go. I need to go. I know I need to go. I’m still in pain and I need to go. Can’t it just wait until another day?
What if I can’t do it? I couldn’t even get out of bed to write this post – I started thinking about what I have to do in a few hours and I became crippled. What if I can’t do it? I can’t even sleep tonight, worrying about it. I have to do it another day. That’s all there is to it. I can’t. I just can’t.

Jesus. This isn’t me. I’m not like this. I wasn’t like this. The only thing worse than the anxiety is the anger.

I’ll have to drive in the snow eventually, I know. I can’t let this fear take over my life. But what was once a source of childish delight for me is now just another trigger. Just another thing that keeps me awake now.

Richard, My Darling

Richard, My Darling

After all the fruitless searches (thanks, Peter Gabriel), the frustration with MINI of Alexandria in Virginia (thanks, ‘salesman,’ for calling me back jerking me around and completely blowing me off), and the otherwise mentally-crippling anxiety (thanks, driver-at-fault), I found and bought the perfect MINI Cooper.

In the end, it was the first one I’d bookmarked. Of course.

I came across this blue beauty at MINI of Loveland in Colorado and really liked the look of it… minus the non-black wheels and the lack of sunroof and lack of heated seats. It was almost 100% what I wanted, but I wasn’t going to the whole settling predicament.

I had also found a nigh-perfect one in Virginia that ended up being sold right out from under me as I was speaking to the salesman about transport prices. The funniest thing was when someone from their customer relations department called me:
Guy: “I was wondering if you’d like to come out today or tomorrow to test drive something.”
Me: “Um, I’m in Omaha, Nebraska, so… no?”
Guy: “Oh, okay, (blah blah) Is there a time later this week you’d like to come out and take a look at our inventory?”
Me: “…. No. As I’m in OMAHA, NEBRASKA and I will not be booking a flight to Virginia, where you are, to test drive a vehicle I’ve been driving for the past four years.”
Guy: “Oh, okay, I totally get that. (Me thinking: Do you?) What can we do to earn your business?”
Me: “Well, you would have had my business already, but your salesman sold the car I wanted right out from under me, so I’ll be finding a MINI elsewhere.”
Guy: “Okay, well, please let us know if we can (blah blah blah).”

Yeah, no. I also got two calls from an English salesman (I see your strategy, MINI of Alexandria) assuring me that they’re looking all over for a MINI for me and they’re checking the auction list because they have the biggest used inventory in the country la-di-dah. Well, *checks watch* I wonder how long that list is, because, uh, I still haven’t heard back. Stay tuned to see if they ever find me a car!

Anyway. After all that garbage, I went back to the one in Colorado. The day I found it, I sent an email through their website asking some details and got a call from a salesman within the hour. It was late, even; it was like, past 6pm. Dave Parent of MINI of Loveland called me during an ice cream social they were having – yeah, the dealership was having an ice cream social – to tell me about the car and ask me some questions, etc. After that call, I already had an emotional attachment to this place and this car. I kept the tab up on my browser for days.

We talked again, and I told him the only thing kind of holding me up is the fact that it doesn’t have black wheels; by the time I spend the money buying black wheels, it’ll be way over my budget. He goes, “Why don’t I see if another MINI on the lot can swap wheels with it.” I was like, dude, if you can do that, it’ll be my MINI.

So a couple days later, he calls me back and tells me he wasn’t able to swap wheels without it significantly changing the sticker price, which I understood. This was after the MINI of Alexandria ridiculousness and I’d about had it. I told him the only other thing I wanted on that car was a luggage rack. He said, “I’ll put it on myself.”

Within ten minutes or so, I’d told him to do that and have it on by the next evening because I’ll drive down to get it myself. I could have had it transported for about $500, but where’s the adventure in that? Plus, I’m too damn impatient.

The next day (see, impatient), dad and I rented a car and set out for Colorado. This was the first time I’d been behind the wheel of a car since my accident (so, about forty-one days at this point), and I looked like this:
IMG_6749

The drive there went smoothly. There was quite a bit of anxiety to overcome, but luckily it was all interstate. The trees were changing colors and the weather was gorgeous. It was the perfect day for this journey. Then we encountered 5 o’clock traffic upon entering Greeley, which I hated. I was totally exhausted by the time we made it to Loveland.

But, boy, did MINI of Loveland totally rejuvenate me. That place is like a toy store to me. There are so many fun things and beautiful MINIs. The people are all great and enthusiastic. No one could believe I walked away from my accident and even asked to use the photos to show at meetings and to customers. Apparently, I’ve already helped sell a couple cars to people who worry about the small size of the MINI being unsafe. That makes me feel good.

I really wanted to cry right there at the sales desk. I’d just accomplished such a daunting task and overcome so many fears. I knew I was heading toward my freedom. I was heading toward the key to putting this awful experience and time behind me. It was going to be worth it. And my salesman and finance gal couldn’t have made the process any easier once I got there. They stayed past close and helped us into the MINI and directed us to an awesome BBQ place just down the road.

The next day, dad and I got up and had breakfast at the hotel. We were going to pop over to Estes Park to see the hotel from The Shining, but it was so foggy. Instead, we hit the road and took a detour through Wyoming, up to Alliance, Nebraska. I had never been in Wyoming and I had never been as far northwest in Nebraska. The drive through Scotts Bluff actually took my breath away – I couldn’t believe the land formations and valleys and trees. Who knew we had such a diverse landscape! In Alliance, we ate at a cute little diner off of Main Street and then popped over to see Carhenge.

Yes, like Stonehenge.
IMG_6921
IMG_6934

I’d never seen it, so it was amazing. Dad and I spent some time geeking out, and then continued on home. Of course, with such a detour, we ended up with part of our drive past sunset. I hadn’t driven in the dark since the accident. Then we encountered some emergency closure of I-80 and had to squeeze into a caravan of semi trucks with trailers on a two-lane highway through a bunch of small towns. We were stop-and-go, and I was constantly worried the truck behind me wouldn’t stop in time, and at one point on the two-lane highway I randomly noticed how close opposite traffic was (I missed the median and four-lane interstate). There were a few times where my heart may have stopped.

We made it home safely and upon backing into my garage, I broke down. I did, not the car. I sat in my car and had a little weep. I stroked the steering wheel and tenderly caressed the dashboard and ran my fingertips over the MINI wings emblem. No joke. I didn’t know when I’d be back in a MINI Cooper. Let alone one so perfect for me. I didn’t know when I’d be driving again. I didn’t know how I’d do driving again. I made myself drive to Loveland, not only for the fun of it, but as a test. One I had no other option but to pass. And no matter how the drive there went, I had to turn around and drive right back. I was so proud of myself. I’d done it. And now I had him. My MINI. My darling. My Richard. Yes, that’s his name: Richard.

IMG_6807

It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve had him. I’ve got my C. Friis rally sticker on the back driver’s-side window, I’ve got the grille badges on: a black, white, and grey Union Jack and then the Sir Alec quote, “I don’t want bloody women driving my car.” Those were the two I’d had on my British Chap; the grille, badges, and my license plate disappeared in the accident. He’s taken me to a friend’s wedding and to Target (oh lawdy, how I had missed going to Target) and to Starbucks. He whips ’round the roundabouts and is just a total stunner. I really couldn’t be happier with him.

Alas, I’m still incredibly anxious while driving. I have been doing my best to keep my eyes fixed ahead and not on the rear view window when I’ve come to a stop and I know someone is coming up behind me. Every car coming opposite is going to swerve at the last minute and hit me, I just know it. Honestly, the only way I’ve been able to get around that is to just resign to the fact that if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. And I’ll be hurt again or I could die. And my car will be wrecked again and I’ll have to start all over again.

Everyone says because I’ve been hit twice, statistically it won’t happen again. I almost failed statistics, so I’m not really sure I can grasp that logic. I think, if anything, it’s even more likely to happen again. I feel like a target. The dumb motherfucker who decided drinking and driving was a good idea that night sought me out. and now I feel like a target. Everyone is going to hit me and I don’t trust anyone. That person is going to decide they want that exit and they’re going to side-swipe me at the last minute. That person isn’t going to see me and they’re going to send me into the guard rail. That person is going to drop something and jerk the wheel and hit me head-on.

There was one day, though. One day since I’ve been back from Loveland, I went for a drive. Just to drive. Like I used to. I took Richard to Ponca Hills, my old neighborhood. I took him through the hills and around the bends and past my home that will always be my home. I took him out on I-680 and saw the trees looking like autumn and the sun was shining and I felt like myself again. Just for a moment. I hadn’t felt like me in a long time. I was on my way back.

IMG_7024

I am on my way back.

Disruption, To Say the Least

So, one of the questions I’ve been asked by the driver-at-fault’s insurance company has to do with pain and suffering: “How has this accident and your injuries disrupted your daily life?”

How has it disrupted me? Let me count the ways.

I can’t walk; I can only limp.
I can’t hold anything more than a glass of water with my left hand; it’s too weak.
I can’t shower properly for the same reasons.
I can’t sneeze, laugh, cough, reach, carry, hold, move, stretch, adjust because of the pain in my chest.
I can’t kneel, cross my legs, crouch because of the pain in my knees.
I can hardly sleep because I can only sleep on my back – must keep foot elevated, chest flat, wrist straight.

I can’t drive because I don’t have a car. I can’t drive because I can’t put full weight on my right foot.

I can’t go anywhere because I don’t have a car. I can’t go anywhere unless someone is available to drive me. I can’t get groceries unless someone gets them for me.

I can’t go to the gym or run because I can’t walk. Or use my left hand/wrist. Or lift anything anyway.

I can’t apply for jobs because I don’t have a car.

I’ve essentially been in bed for two weeks.

I am paranoid.

I’m paranoid when anyone leaves my apartment – must text me when they get home, lest someone decide it’s a good idea to drive drunk.

I’m paranoid when someone calls me while driving – even through their car’s bluetooth. I’m just waiting to hear a loud crash and for the call to drop.

I’m paranoid when it’s the weekend – people will be out drinking/tailgating. Especially Saturday.

I’m paranoid about keeping my doors locked – yeah, the ones at my apartment. Someone physically hurt me and I am terrified that it’ll happen again. Especially when I wouldn’t be able to get away or fight back. I’ve already hobbled around my apartment twice with a flashlight after hearing a strange noise.

I’m paranoid every time I hear squealing tires – which is pretty fucking often, considering I live next to Dodge Street and by two roundabouts. I fell asleep to a movie and was so violently jolted awake by the sound of squealing tires that I probably hurt everything worse.

I’m paranoid when I get in a car with anyone – that night, driving home from the hospital, I wouldn’t even let my dad turn right on red. No, stay out of the intersection, just stay back, please, I’m sorry I’m being like this, but I can’t let you do it.

I’m paranoid about my injuries healing properly.

I’m paranoid when I think about getting behind the wheel again – will I be able to do it? I still had anxiety from when I was rear-ended in February, now what? What if I can never use a center turning lane again? How will I ever go visit my dad’s house again? Will I be able to be out driving past 9pm? Apparently, that was early enough to be wasted, so what’s my curfew?

I was a cautious driver before; what if I turn into a sniveling mess when I’m out and about? What if I have panic attacks? What if this affects me for the rest of my life? I’m not even 26.

So, I don’t know, how has this disrupted my life? Might be better to ask me how it hasn’t.

An Ode to MINI Cooper

An Ode to MINI Cooper

Dear MINI,

I apologize in advance for my verbosity and the lengthiness of this letter, but I think it’s true that when one is passionate about something, one can go on forever about that something. And this something is really something. Or something.

I grew up a huge fan of The Beatles and also VW Beetles. But then a teenier and unbearably cuter car rolled into view: The MINI Cooper. I was instantly enamored. My seventh grade boyfriend even got me a mini yellow MINI model for my church confirmation. I still have it yet today.

When I turned sixteen, my lovely Grammy gave me her ’96 Chrysler Concorde. It was a fair bit longer than a yacht. My parents used that as part of a trade-in for my younger brother’s first vehicle (still not over it), so I was left carless. As much as I begged and pleaded with my aunt, the designated coinpurse, I was not allowed to get my coveted MINI Cooper as they were “small and unsafe.”

‘Sputtering’ doesn’t begin to cover my reaction to those words. 

I ended up with a Dodge Caliber, which was… not a MINI. But I got a job at a car dealership in town and always kept an eye on the inventory.

One day, a co-worker told me that someone had just traded in a MINI Cooper hardtop to another location. I hadn’t even seen it, but I had it sent up. I’m pretty sure that was that salesman’s easiest, quickest sale to date.

I loved that MINI. It was black and had broad, red stripes up the bonnet, across the roof, and down the boot. I found blue ones online and had the red ones replaced. I bought ridiculously huge fog lamps for the grille and had a push-pull, choke-like knob installed to turn those on and off. I bought an S chrome gas cap to replace the non-S gastank door. It was a beauty, and, oh, it was so mine.

Then, as it happens, I got into (read: obsessed) the BBC show Sherlock. Shortly thereafter, and I don’t even know how I found this (read: I was probably google-searching any and all things Sherlock Holmes), I saw that MINI had a Baker Street Edition. 

Wat?(son)

I had to have it. 

I went straight to the local dealer, MINI of Omaha, met with the most perfect saleswoman and kindred spirit, Kim, and I probably had the Baker Street Edition ordered that same day.

Saying goodbye to my first MINI was tough. I got emotional right there in the parking lot. I knew it would be going to a good home and an excellent driver who would have even more fun with it than I did. I’ve yet to see it around town, but I’m still hoping to someday.

The Baker Street, though, woof. What a beauty. The Rooftop Grey paint, the dapper-cut bonnet stripes, the door sills, the door scuttles, the dash panel, the floor mats, the seat fabric and stitching, oh, God, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Utterly gorgeous. And don’t even get me started on the delivery process, oh, too late:

When one orders a MINI directly from Oxford, one gets to track their baby, and that’s not even my word, online. Like a package. Like a delightful bundle of joy. There is no stone left unturned by MINI. They literally think of everything and everything is bespoke and simply perfection. But yes, you get to watch your baby being ‘born’ and when it’s having its last check-up and when it’s making its way across the pond and when it reaches dry land.. It’s just a wonder to behold. 

Now I’m getting emotional again.

Anyway, that MINI was my pride and joy and I planned on having it until it couldn’t tick over any more miles.

That is, until, that feat was made impossible. 

One night in February of this year, I was driving to see my dad. His driveway leads out onto a busy street, so it’s sometimes nerve-wracking to park in it. This night, as with every night, I signaled my turn from at least two blocks away. As I was slowing and turning into his driveway, I looked up in my rear view mirror and saw headlights coming quickly right for me. I thought, “they’ll see me, they’ll see me, oh my God, they aren’t going to stop!” and I went to press the accelerator. The last thought I had as I stepped on the gas pedal was, “this’ll be a narrow miss.” 

It wasn’t.

If you’ve never been in a car accident, you won’t know what I’m talking about; and if you’ve seen one on TV or in a film, you still won’t know what I’m talking about; but there is a noise unlike any other. Louder than I can explain. I can still hear it if I think about it. 

A suburban rear-ended me going about 45mph which swiftly sent me skidding in the snow and T-boning into a utility pole in my dad’s yard. 

In my daze, I tried to open my door and it wouldn’t open. I then panicked a bit and shoved into it a few times. All of a sudden, it was like someone had reached in and lifted me over my gearshift, across the passenger seat, and out the door. To this day, I don’t remember how I got out so easily that way. 

I walked around to the driver’s side of my MINI and my heart absolutely broke. I couldn’t even feel any pain other than that, between the adrenaline, the shock, and the anger. When the driver of the suburban got out, a teenage girl, I yelled at her. “I am so fucking pissed off at you!” 

My MINI, my baby, which I was supposed to have forever, was gone. But I was alive. And I was alive because of my MINI. The curtain airbags kept my head from crashing right into the window, the seatbelt kept me from going anywhere. I was able to walk away. I sustained a bruised and very sore right side, a stiff neck, and anxiety. The MINI sustained quite a bit more.

IMG_0014IMG_0033IMG_0052IMG_0053

You can see how deeply the pole lodged. It still hurts to look at these.

It took a long time to get over, and I’m not particularly over it. It was a loss. It was also a loss of some of my confidence in driving. I’ve always loved driving. I go for drives to calm down or just for fun. After this accident, any time I would pull up to a stoplight or stopsign or anywhere someone would have to stop behind me, my eyes would be glued to my rear view mirror, pleading with everything I had that the person would see me and stop. Even in broad daylight. There were a few times I actually began to take evasive action and pull to the side because I thought, for sure, this person isn’t going to stop. 

Now, with insurance and the rental car and having a job, I knew I couldn’t wait the month or so to replace my baby with another Baker Street, so I had to go for something else. Which was also very difficult. Part of me wanted desperately to just have it back. Go back to the way things were. Start fresh. But then part of me knew it wouldn’t be the same, even if it was physically the same down to the last V on the dash.

I’d only had her for a year. And in that year, she was kept in a garage for three months while I was living in London. I hated that I’d missed out on those three months of driving her. She was truly my dream car.

IMG_0080

 

When the Clubman came out years ago, I’d always loved the idea of the barn doors. They were adorable and fun, not to mention totally handy and perfect for when you’ve got your shopping and can’t manage a hatch. 

The Clubman came to mind when I had to look for a new car. And because I couldn’t possibly drive anything else, obviously, I was back at MINI of Omaha.

I also thought, sort of as an homage, I’d get it in British Racing Green. I’d actually painted my nails that color as I was in mourning. I warned you: passionate.

MINI of Omaha found me a 2014 British Racing Green Clubman, manual (because how could I do anything else), brand new, with leatherette heated seats, a panoramic moon roof; pretty much everything I wanted besides the black wheels and bonnet stripes. Which was fine, I could take care of those things later.

They got it in for me and it was beautiful. It was hard after the Baker Street, but I grew to love my new MINI, of course. Especially when I went in to order bonnet stripes and I noticed that I could get Baker Street Edition bonnet stripes… Ohhhh, boy. I couldn’t contain my excitement at the parts counter. And when they were installed? Wow. It was perfect. The perfect combination. 

I had a Black Jack rear view mirror cover and a Black Jack grille badge to match. I also installed another grille badge that had a quote from Sir Alec himself, “I don’t want bloody women driving my cars.” It was all coming together to be my little British Chappy.

Then this past Saturday, 30th of August, just hours after my mom’s wedding, I was driving to dad’s – this may sound familiar – and as I neared his driveway, I noticed that his friend had parked a bit crooked and if I parked behind him, I’d have to let him out eventually. For the sake of ease and laziness, I decided parking on the side street would be best. 

There was not another side street to the west until further south, so I moved over to get into the center turning lane to take a turn eastward. As I was slowing, downshifting, and moving into the center turn lane, no sooner had I done so that I heard loud, drawn-out screeching of tires. I couldn’t see anything, so I had no idea what was coming until it hit me head-on.

The impact was hard and loud, but luckily I had no time to react, otherwise I would have tensed up. When I came to a stop, I was facing the opposite direction on the opposite side of the street. My horn was blaring, the airbag had gone off and the windshield had shattered. I had glass and airbag residue in my mouth. I tried to open my driver’s door and it wouldn’t open. In my panic, I rolled down the window and was prepared to climb out. Thankfully, I didn’t even attempt it, and I crawled across the gearshift and passenger seat to get out that way. Even in my state, thinking, “this is harder than last time.”

I walked around the back of the car because the horn was just so loud. I couldn’t even look back at it. My left hand was bleeding and I could hardly walk, but I almost started to walk the couple houses to my dad’s before I thought better of it. Luckily, there were, what seemed like, about six witnesses who took care of calling the police and getting the driver’s license plate number and letting me phone my dad. I remember asking, “do you hear the horn? I was in an accident.” He half-shouted, what?! and I was so upset and furious that I wasn’t thinking clearly. I shouted back, “CAN’T YOU HEAR THE HORN? Just come down the street toward the horn!”

For the sake of things to come, I won’t go any further with the details, but I will repeat what the responding officer told me: When the tow truck came to pick up my car as I was taken to the hospital, the tow truck driver thought he was picking up a fatality. That told me exactly how bad it looked.

I mean, I knew it was bad. It was a head-on collision with a drunk driver. I couldn’t put weight on my right foot, I had a laceration requiring stitches on my left middle finger and couldn’t use my left arm – it took the airbag in less than a stride and my chest took the rest of it – I had cuts and glass all over me. Amazingly, the x-rays were negative for breaks in my foot, hand, and chest; I had no breaks anywhere else. I am, however, mottled with bruises and contusions, and in pain just about everywhere. 

But I’m alive.

I didn’t actually see photos of my car until the next day. Then not in person until I had to go to the impound lot to get my personal items.

IMG_5398IMG_5410IMG_5394IMG_5395

My British Chap saved my life. MINI saved my life again.

IMG_5446

So, in ready conclusion, it is with my whole heart that I say: Thank you, MINI. I would not be here today if it weren’t for your brilliant engineering and attention to safety. There was a reason I was inexorably drawn to your little cars, what, with their bulldog stance and protective snarl. You better believe that as soon as I can physically and psychologically get behind the wheel again, I will be back, yet again, at MINI of Omaha. How could I possibly drive anything else.

Sincerely and loyally yours,

Christina Friis, MINI Owner.

IMG_5468

%d bloggers like this: