A Week-long Six-hour Journey

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Six and a half hours. That’s straight through with no stops. Truck drivers carrying property have driving rules, I know that.
Truck drivers carrying property can drive a maximum of eleven hours after ten hours off-duty (US DOT: FMCSA).
Let’s say there were a few stops along the way. Interstate 80 runs along quite a few potential stops, and this is assuming that the transport truck started at Madison and made its way west. Could have had a stop in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Des Moines (very likely), and then arrive in Omaha. Maybe even, depending on the route, a stop in Rockport, Davenport, and then Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha. Who knows how many dealerships are along the way, and frankly, I’m not about to get into all that. This is frustrating me enough to sit down and be pontificating pedantically about this as it is. 

That being said. So, eleven hours max. Stopping four times along the way bumps the travel time to twelve hours, which would be over the limit, never mind how they measure time when they’re stopped or resting (the US DOT website uses confusing language, so I’m not going to try to understand that). So clearly, this journey would already take more than a day. Got it. Maybe even two or three.

That being said. It’s taken a week.

I called my salesman today because I hadn’t heard anything and was met with the typical I-totally-wasn’t-about-to-call-you-but-I’ll-tell-you-that-because-it-sounds-like-I’m-trying-to-keep-you-in-mind answer of, “I was just about to call you!” (no harm, I used this more often than I’d care to admit when I worked in an office and I’m sure it hasn’t left my lips for the last time). “There were some issues with the transport truck, so we’re looking at tomorrow” (as in Wednesday, as in, a week). 

The point of having the car brought down to Omaha for me was strictly convenience. I worked at a car dealership in Omaha for almost four years, and when I found a car I liked at one of our branches even just a couple hours away, they’d bring it down to Omaha out of convenience for me. Makes total sense. Good customer service. 

Before I decided on this particular MINI, there was one on the east coast that had even more of what I wanted, but was a bit more expensive and would have taken ‘over a week’ to get here. I was trying to drive to Canada (today), so a week wouldn’t cut it – I decided on the one that was closer with fewer of my requests because it would get here ‘this weekend; Monday at the latest.’ 

Honestly, I could have set up a rental return in Madison either last Thursday or Friday (you know, because it was due Friday before I had to start paying for it), and then done the F&I in Madison and driven home in my car. Have I needed it? Not necessarily; it’s just the principle of the thing at this point.

I realize how whiney and bratty this sounds, but I won’t again get into the ridiculousness of how this would be for someone with a family and full-time job to handle while constantly having to add days to their rental for which they are now paying for out-of-pocket because of the ‘insurance guidelines.’ I said I wouldn’t get into it again, didn’t I

I’m sorry that there’s been an almost-daily (more than daily) commentary about this situation, but it’s just the most frustrating thing going on in my life at the moment. While I’m trying to buy a house, do my taxes, plan for company- holy fucking shit, I’m an adult, when the hell did this happen?!

This isn’t all for naught. Luckily. I’m learning a lot from it. Life experience, I guess. If I wasn’t learning from it, it would be wasted on me; so yeah. Nevertheless, I’ll be working on my pout when I hopefully finally go pick up my car tomorrow. I should probably use it when I visit my loan officer as well. Sure we can’t do any better than 4.125%? *insert pout*

14 Jan

Well. I’ve still not gotten my car. Which means I had to extend my rental. Again. I know what the guy at Ameriprise said, but this is ridiculous. Seriously, if I’d had my car in the shop for 15 days, I would have had a rental for 15 days, right? Well, it’s totaled; so I’m sorry, but I should have a rental for however frickin’ long it takes me to get a new car. No, wait: I should have a rental for however frickin’ long it takes me to get the settlement check which would be the downpayment on a new car. Logical, I would think.

Other than that, woke up to a call from Jo. Moving her flight would have cost an arm and a leg, so after accepting the fact that we probably won’t be able to do this trip, I realized she could probably fly into Kansas City way cheaper than Omaha. Lo and behold. So Tuesday morning, I’ll drive down to KC to pick her up and then head back to Omaha, then she’ll fly out of Omaha on the 9th. I’m excited. I haven’t been to the zoo in a hundred years, so we’ll most def be going there. (The Henry Doorly Zoo, you know, the best zoo in the country. You heard me, better than San Diego. Check this shit out: http://www.omahazoo.com). Also, I’ve got a little West Country Meets West Nebraska daytrip mapped out on this awesome website/app called Roadtrippers. It is the shit and I think it’ll be really fun. I’ve never been where we’re going and there are a ton of interesting things along the way. (For example, Hastings, Nebraska, where Kool-aid was invented. Ohh yeahh).

So, back on the prompt thing for a minute or two.

January 14th – Ripped from the headlines:
Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.
(wrings hands schemingly) Naturally, I went to BBC.com. I took a look at the Entertainment section first, but nothing really caught my eye. Back on the main page, however, under the Autos section blurb, I saw Top Gear. Talk about something that grabs me. Even better, it’s about the boys coming to the US: “Top Gear makes US landfall”
I have to do this without reading the article, or I have to read the article and further base a story off of that? Okay, well, the story is about the boys doing a 700mile road trip from the rural south to Manhattan. I can work with that. (You know this is going to be fanfiction, right? This could even be foreshadowing since this ep airs tomorrow. Dun dun dunnn)
→The boys had set off from Atlanta, Georgia, preparing themselves for more of an 867mile road trip than the 700mile road trip, as the producers had previously said. None of them slept well the night before the journey. It was either the memory of the last time they were in the Southern US, or it was the excitement of driving such stunningly beautiful cars north on the interstate. Although it was truly a bit of both, it was mostly the former.
No, they weren’t in the same town, and no, they weren’t driving vehicles with hillbilly-enraging phrases painted on the sides, but nevertheless.
They were also a bit nervous for another reason: They had a woman with them. Well, alright, a girl. Of 25. She had won some sort of Top Gear contest that they didn’t even know about and all of a sudden, they were meant to take this stranger with them on their trip up the east coast of the US.
Even more annoying was the fact that her flight was delayed, so they were having to pick her up from the airport and then start right off toward Manhattan. They argued at dinner about who would be stuck with her for the 800-plus mile roadtrip.
“Absolutely rubbish,” Jeremy said, after he downed the rest of his pint in the hotel bar. “She’s certainly not riding in my SLS. She won’t know how to operate the gull-wing doors and it’ll be an utter embarrassment.” He sighed dramatically and got up to get another pint.
“I could have her in the Ferrari, I reckon,” James said thoughtfully. He seemed to be slightly more alright with the aspect of a young bird in his car. That’s because-
“Oh, come off it, mate. You only want her in your car so you can bore her to death with your facts and maths and agonizingly slow driving and-” Richard drawled on until James interrupted him.
“Yeah, well, she can’t be any more bored than she’d be in your 911 – a.k.a the same 911 made for the past however many years.”
“Oh my God, we’re not talking about the Beetle again, are we?” Jeremy complained as he returned with his beer.
Richard attempted to get the attention off of his beloved Porsche. “We’ll just have to flip a coin, I guess.”
“Oh no, we won’t,” James and Jeremy said simultaneously. “You’ll have her, mate,” Jeremy said, raising his glass to cheers James. “I think that’s quite settled then, Hamster,” James concluded, clinking his glass against Jeremy’s.
Richard closed his eyes and sighed. “For God’s sake,” he said, getting up for the bar. A hangover would definitely make things worse on the ride, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. He found an open spot and hitched up onto the barstool. A few minutes away from the others would be a welcome break. “Gin on the rocks, please,” he said when the barman noticed him. He was running his hands over his face when he heard someone say, “excuse me?”
He turned toward the source of the voice and saw a young woman standing next to him with a carryon. She looked a bit travel-weary as she plopped it on the stool directly next to Richard. He did a quick rake over her and determined that she was pretty, and even in the dim light of the bar, he noticed her hazel eyes – her genuine smile making them crinkle at the corners.
“Richard, hi, I’m Nina, I, well, I’m- nice to meet you,” she stammered, extending her hand.
Richard took her hand and shook it. “Hi, yes, nice to meet you, too. Can I.. buy you a drink?”
“Oh, God, yes,” she said with a huff. She moved her carryon to the next stool over and sat down next to Richard. “I fucking hate when my flight’s delayed.”
“That really is awful,” Richard sympathized, as he got the barman’s attention. “Are you stuck here, then?”
She gave a hesitant laugh, then turned toward the barman. “Old-fashioned, please.” She looked back toward Richard with a smirk. “Actually, I’m uh, I’m here for you guys.”
Well, I sure hope you enjoyed that piffle.

11 Jan to 13 Jan

Last night, I swear I almost had an orgasm in front of the beer coolers at Brix. Sophie and I got our Pancheros and then headed over to Brix for wine. Inundated with choices, I found a pinot called Double Decker and Sophie found a rosé called Sofie. She suggested we take a look at the beer then. And beer there is. I couldn’t believe all of craft options and imports. I figured, well, I’m sure they’ll have Hobgoblin, so I could just get that.

And then I saw it. I swept my eyes upward and was met with the blood-red label of London Pride. I said, oh my God, and might have drawn some attention to myself while I hugged the chilly sixpack and moaned – actually moaned – in pleasure. I could literally feel the waves of elation wash through my body.

That, my friends, will be the moment in my memoirs when my alcoholism began. Well, alright, I know better than that. Perhaps the beginning of my beer belly.

The bottle of Double Decker and three (I think) London Prides later, for Sophie – the bottle of Sofie and three (I think) Sam Adams later, and we were passed out on my couch with Sherlock on the telly.

I woke up this morning with a Facebook notification – an old flame (on a candle in the wind) had accepted my friend request. Um. Thanks, Sophie. I sent him a message telling him that was done drunkenly, from which he could deduce all sorts of shit, if he wants. He’s married now, it’s whatever. The best part though is that, try as I might, I can’t be arsed to be embarrassed by it. Normally, I think I would be. I’m not a drunk-texter, really; I tend to make a fool of myself in person. I mean, yeah, Soph and I were talking about the young men in our past lives and of course my mentioning him resulted in Facebook creeping, as all good ‘I dated this guy’ stories do.

But I don’t know. Maybe it’s my age or that I’m increasingly comfortable in my own skin. I just can’t seem to worry about it, and that is simply a revelation.

Still nothing about my car. I did get to keep the rental until Monday. I sure as hell wouldn’t take it to Canada – it never feels connected to the road, and is too top-heavy for a ‘hot hatch.’ I want to get rid of it. Could have just driven up to Wisconsin myself, turned it in there, and drove the MINI home. Should have.

Right. More of the retroactive daily prompts, then.

January 11th – This is your life:
If you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover.
Well. If I wanted to read a book containing all that has happened, I need only read my journals (again). Some of those things are hard enough to revisit. Reading all that will ever happen in my life, though… I don’t think I could. I mean, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen whether I know about it or not, which means I can’t do much, if anything, to change it. So, what’s the point, really? It would make me a more nervous person. I’d be dreading things, I’d be impatient for other things. I get so much joy out of the surprises in life, that it would totally detract from my experience.

January 12th – Take two:
Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection of these two random objects, people or scenes.
No. It’s cold and dark. However, I know for a fact that the first thing I’d see outside would be the stupid rental car. Every time I walk outside, I look straight to my car. I also know that as soon as I walked in my apartment, I would see my boots laying by the front door. I think the connection there would be that I’m ready to give the goddamn rental car the boot. I can imagine what it would be like if I had my MINI and saw my boots, then. I would think of adventures. I would think of the times I’d worn those boots in my MINI – going to the shops or going to my brother’s apartment. In any combination, I would say the connection is clearly travel – either by foot or by car – which is very important to me and the first idea upon entering or exiting my apartment.

January 13th – Clean slate:
Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?
Alright, Sherlock, I’ll do my best. First thought is, Jesus, whoever lives here really needs to clean up. She seems to love the UK, and London in particular, which is made obvious by the three Union Flag pillows on the couch, the ton of British trinkets all over the place. Oh God, she seems to love Sherlock just a bit – look at these set photos, the blu rays are out on her entertainment center. She must like to write because she’s got a journal on the ottoman and a typewriter on the table. An Apple products lover – iMac, Macbook, iPhone, AppleTV, etc. Some Harry Potter things like a quote on the wall or photos from Warner Bros in England. Bit of a drinker – there are beer bottle caps on the chaise part of her couch and a bottle opener next to them. Her Christmas tree is still up, so she’s lazy as fuck, and it’s nestled among a shitload of papers and office stuff around her desk, so she’s a bit disorganized. She’s got a bookcase just for psychology books and then a bookcase for leisure books. Lots of candles. I’d almost think she’s from the UK because she’s got so much of it everywhere – there’s a Doctor Who mug, a teacup and mug with a map of the UK on each, and a shelf on one bookcase dedicated to The Beatles. She seems fine with a bit of clutter, because there really is stuff everywhere. I get the feeling the space is too small for all of her stuff. She’s older than 21, but I would say younger than 30. The diplomas on the wall help with that. That also lets me know that she’s well-educated. I’ll go with mad genius, due to the textbooks, degrees, and mess. Don’t even get me started on the psychology aspect.

 

Got too distracted trying to do January 14th, so I’ll leave that for next time. Hopefully I get my damn car tomorrow.

Really Making Me Pay For It

On the 18th, I received an email from the total loss department of Ameriprise saying that I need to sign/have notarized a Power of Attorney. Okay, great; um, why? The email didn’t explain anything, so I had to respond and ask (so that the company can pay it off for me and take title, etc, wonderful). It also said that I’d be getting the POA in the mail. As soon as I get it back to them, they can issue my settlement check ‘within two or three days.’ It got here yesterday and I mailed it back today. 

Today.. why does ‘today’ ring a bell… Oh yeah. Because my rental car is due back today. 

That means not only was I allowed just three days to find a new car – obviously ruling out ordering a new MINI from Oxford, which would have been ideal, but I can’t use (what’s left of) the settlement (after paying off my previous loan) because I won’t get that until they have the POA… which they didn’t send me until I had one day left of my rental.

I’ll be completely honest, I am embarrassingly blessed in that I am able to get a new car without waiting for the settlement, and I could technically get another/keep this rental car for another few days if I need to do so (which I’ll likely need to do); however, I reckon that the majority of people who get their vehicles totaled wouldn’t be able to turn around and buy a new car before the process is complete. 

I asked if the rental could be extended and apparently they have to follow guidelines, so, no. My new car is coming from Wisconsin – it’s on its way. Still. The dealership closes at 6pm, so that leaves an hour and a half yet today. It’s open tomorrow 830am-6pm, so if I have to get a ride from someone, I guess I’ll have to deal with that. Again, I’m lucky that I have plenty of people to help me out and I’m lucky that I’m jobless – hell, I wouldn’t have been able to do half as much as I’ve done if I had a 9-5 job. It’s hard for me to bitch about this (yet, clearly not) when I’ve got it easier than most, but I can’t imagine how absolutely difficult and distressing this would be for someone with a full-time job, kids, limited budget, and a shitload of other responsibilities. It’s ludicrous. 

MINI have been the only people to seem to have any tact in this. I know everyone at Ameriprise is just doing his/her job and I’m sure it’s not a fun one – hopefully my charming disposition has made it easy, but I don’t get much sympathy. I know I sound needy. While Ameriprise is like, ‘was there any damage to the pole,’ MINI are like ‘we are so sorry, we understand this is a difficult time for you.’ 

Oh, and Ameriprise had the fucking gall to include a letter about buying a Ford. Are you shitting me?

Where was I going with this? Ah, yes. 

So this POA I had to sign/have notarized and overnight back: Again, blessed to know a ton of notaries due to my previous employer. I didn’t have to go to a bank or mess around, I just went to see a friend about a stamp. Then they say, you can either mail the shit back with this envelope, or AT YOUR OWN EXPENSE, overnight it back to us… but keep in mind that the sooner we get the POA, the sooner we can issue the settlement check. Okay, so, just short of twisting my arm, but a bit of coercion nonetheless. 

As I have an hour and twenty left on my rental, I decided to FedEx it overnight. To get it to Wisconsin at 8am, it would have been around $90. I opted for the much smarter 1030am at $50. And before 6pm today, I’ll have spent another however much to get another rental car. FFS.

I might have been a bit of a cock to get out of my car and yell at the girl who destroyed it, but I had no idea just how much of an inconvenience I was about to face. 

It’s Been A Funny Sort of Day

The day started off well enough. Woke up, had some breakfast, decided to get a facial and luckily, got an appointment within the hour. The facial was amazing, totally relaxing. Then I got home and just couldn’t get comfortable. Come to think about it, I couldn’t get comfortable in bed the night before. Just a sense of uncomfortability. Yep. Just made that one up.

Not wanting my evening to continue that way, I thought I’d invite dad over to watch The Fifth Estate – he needed a dose of Cumberbatch. He gave me some flack about always having to come out to my place and why don’t I come over there so he can fix me some smoked bbq ribs. Fine, whatever. 

I finished watching Dallas Buyer’s Club and got ready to go. Didn’t do my hair or makeup ’cause I didn’t care. For some reason, I just really didn’t want to go.

On the drive there – which is a straight shot east down Dodge and then a straight shot south on 120th – I had a stomach ache and just an all over unsettling feeling. Crossing Center Street, just a few blocks from dad’s house, I noticed a black car weaving in and out of traffic ahead of me and thought, that asshole’s going to hit someone. 

Dad’s driveway leads to 120th, just past a side street, so it’s always a bit of ‘I hope the person behind me sees that I’m turning but just in case I’ll do it as quickly as I can.’ 

I always check my rear view mirror as soon as I put my right blinker on – checking to see if there’s someone behind me and hoping they’ll just merge into the left lane to avoid slowing down (because it’s super annoying when someone turning holds up traffic). Then right before I turn into the driveway, I check my mirror again – checking to see if the person behind me is slowing down.

This time I noticed the person behind me was not slowing down. At the last second, I might have shouted ‘fuck’ and tried to again press on the accelerator so I could more quickly get into dad’s driveway. I thought, shit, with the snow, I’m definitely going to slide well into dad’s yard. 

Instead, I felt and heard a bam! behind me and then heard and felt another bam! on my left side. It’s not a biff and it’s not a crack, it’s just the loudest sound I’ve ever heard. I smelled the gunpowder from the side airbags deploying and I fumbled with my seatbelt release. Then I tried to open my door and couldn’t. I checked to see if it was unlocked, it was, and I tried again. It wouldn’t budge. I had a two-second panic and then somehow managed to grab my phone and get across the shifter and passenger seat and out the passenger side. I don’t really remember having any issue doing those things, so I can only imagine that I disapparated out of my car and on to the pavement.

I stood up slowly, making sure I was in tact. I looked up to see the white Ford Explorer/Expedition, one of the two, parked ten or so yards from where I was. The driver wasn’t out of the vehicle yet and I started over there. Then I thought, no, of course the driver is okay – they have a fucking SUV and they just slammed a MINI Cooper into a goddamn pole. I shakily opened up my iPhone camera and took pictures of the damage. Finally, the girl got out of the SUV and I turned to say, ‘I am so fucking pissed off at you right now.’ My car was destroyed. My darling MINI. Never mind the bodily harm I sustained.

She was very young and apologetic. I dialed 911 and my MINI, bless its heart, tried to put the call through its speakers via Bluetooth. Took me a few tries to change the audio source before the dispatcher picked up. I described the scene, asked the girl if she was hurt, she said no, thankfully, so we didn’t need medical. 

Oh, my car. The pole hit parallel, and flush, to the edge of my driver’s door. If I would have hit a few inches into the door, I am sure that my window would have shattered and I could have hit my head on the pole and my arm would have been crushed. The back window and windshield did shatter. I noticed later that there were large chunks of glass in my driver’s side floorboards. None in my hair or coat, amazingly. The – well, here are the initial photos, anyway: Image

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After taking the photos, I grabbed my brand new purse and noticed what was left of my Starbucks had gotten all over it. Now that I had something else to focus my anger on, I went inside dad’s house while he tried to convince the girl to come in (it was cold as fuck). I put my purse down on dad’s couch and ripped off my Gryffindor scarf to try to clean it off. Being leather/vinyl, and me being over-determined, it cleaned very easily. 

She finally came inside and I remember hearing her say, “no, she’s an adult” – referring to me. I think anyone who knows me would not refer to me as an adult. I don’t even refer to myself as an adult. I still see the same 18 year old when I look in the mirror. Never mind that being seven years ago. Ahem. Thinking that was silly, I heard dad then tell her to take a breath and calm down. This is also when I learned her name. Apparently, during my purse focus, my dad, bless him, had been a human being and asked her name. I looked up and found a trembling kid standing in the doorway. I went up to her and gave her a hug.

The cop showed up, we got everyone sat down. Dad did his thing and offered her food, water, pop, whatever. He offered me a beer, knowing the girl wasn’t old enough to drink. I figured that should wait until after the cop leaves. He asked us some questions, got our information, and filled out the report. He was very nice and what stuck out to me was the entirely patient way he ‘uh-huh’d us when we both started our phone numbers with the area code.

After that, I got very frustrated. I tried my best to engage her in conversation and joke around with her, I can’t imagine how scared and traumatized she was. Dad was doing his best to embarrass me and joke around with her to make her feel better. The girl said her mother is an ER doctor/nurse and, as her mother should be proud of her for, she urged me to get checked out even though I refused. When the cop was finished with the report, I told him I’d like to have a quick check after all. At that point, the adrenaline was starting to wear off and I was really starting to feel it in my arm. I knew nothing was broken, and I didn’t think doctors would be able to do much for me besides prescribe me – at the time, incredibly desired – pain meds. 

He said he could just have the squad check me out in the ambulance and I could refuse transport. Having never been to a hospital for an emergency or even anything other than a physical, it wasn’t the place I wanted to spend my night. The cop assured me that he’d call a fire truck, too, because he was sure the guys would relish the opportunity to do something. I said, yes, anything with lights and sirens, channeling my inner Ed from Shaun of the Dead. I asked the cop if the firemen would be calendar firemen or just firemen firemen, channeling my inner cougar of a mom. He said he couldn’t guarantee – sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.

I got my wish: soon there was an Omaha Fire Department fire engine and an ambulance outside the house with their lights on. A very cute fireman got out of the engine and started up toward the door. I made sure to be the one answering the door, even in my no-hair/no-makeup done state, and tried to ramp up my charm. The cute one asked my name and then stepped toward me. He reached out and took my wrist, very Sherlock-like. I looked up at him and said, it’s elevated. Wit and charm, that’s what I’ve got.

It was elevated. A few other firemen and paramedics had stepped inside now and were all looking me over from head to toe. I wish it was because I was hot and not because they were doing their jobs, looking for sticky-out bones and blood. 

They walked me out to the ambulance and I took a seat. One paramedic put that little clothespin on my finger while another asked me questions for a sheet: name, age, address, etc. A fireman stepped on and asked, did you need her pulse? as the paramedic who administered the clothespin was putting on a blood pressure cuff. So then I had the one guy holding his fingers to my left wrist, while the other was taking my blood pressure on the right arm. I don’t even remember it going stiff – the cuff, ahem – I was too busy correcting the spelling of my last name to the one filling out the sheet. The fireman taking my pulse said, yeah, F-R-I-I-S. Thanks, buddy.

It was a whirlwind of not-much-happening and soon they were telling me I’d be sore as fuck, my words, tomorrow and to use an ice pack, do I have an ice pack? No. So I got one. One helped me down off the rig and then I was walking back into dad’s house. I noticed the girl was gone. Her brother’s fiancée had come to see her since her mom was working. 

The cop, however, was still there. He gave me my license/reg/ins back and handed me a sheet with the girl’s information on it (for insurance). Dad further embarrassed me, so I told the cop to learn from this situation and not embarrass his daughters. I asked if I could leave my beaten MINI on dad’s property, since it’s private and off the road. He offered to put crime scene tape around it and I pleaded with him to please do so. (He didn’t, much to my dismay). He said he’ll probably be inundated with calls about the busted car in someone’s yard and I told him to tell the callers you’re just ignoring it until it goes away. (Doubt he did that, much to my dismay).

I shook his hand and he left.

The food I’d come over for in the first place no longer sounded appetizing. Dad made sure I was still okay and we hung out while I called insurance. It was literally the last thing I wanted to fuck with after all of that, but I knew I’d feel better having gotten it out of the way. The rep asked me if there was any damage to the pole. I wanted to laugh in her face. Like, drive to wherever her office is, ask for her to come to the waiting room, and then literally laugh in her face. I just said, um, I don’t know, I didn’t check.

After that, dad said I could take his truck since he wasn’t going to be working the next day. When I was ready, he went out and started it and helped me clean out some things from my car. After that, he called my mom to see if she’d come sit with me for a while. She would. We thanked God that I was still alive and I was ready to go home. 

Pulling out onto 120th Street wasn’t really something I wanted to do. I realized about four blocks away from dad’s that I was going about 25mph. I looked up into his rear view mirror and saw headlights approaching. I looked away and sped up toward home. 

Couldn’t get to sleep until after 3am. Thought I’d be exhausted, but I wasn’t. I was out of breath, talking too much, another adrenaline spike. Mom suggested that I eat some protein, so I had five sunny-side-up eggs. Dad’s urban chicken eggs. They were fantastic. 

I thought back over how I reacted to the crash and felt bad about what I’d said to the girl. I was angry and in shock and I could tell she was completely upset, and I yelled at her before I asked her if she was okay. I found her number on the accident report and texted her an apology. She said not to worry about it and she’s glad I’m okay. I told her I’m glad we’re both okay – it could have been so much worse.

I woke up early today, knowing I’d be getting a call from the insurance agent assigned to my claim. Sitting up in bed was tough. All of a sudden, it felt like I’d done a massive workout the day before. My legs were achy and stiff, my abs ached, my neck was sore and stiff, my left arm was sore and I could tell the bruises were worse before looking at them. It was like I ran a marathon and then fell down a flight of stairs to cross the finish line.

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Getting darker…

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Not entirely sure how I even got this on the inside of my elbow – smashed against my ribs, most likely.

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From the door/airbag, I reckon.

Besides a constant physical reminder, every time I think about my car, I get choked up. I know it sounds silly, but I truly love my car. It was brand-fucking-new, ordered and sent from Oxford just for me; limited edition Baker Street edition with special interior design and exterior color/bonnet stripes; sat for three months while I was in London; never, ever had a problem with it; I looked at the odometer on my way to dad’s, actually, and it read 8800 miles. It’s just a year old. I’ve had it a year. It’s fucking stunning and it’s perfect and it’s me and now it’s demolished. 

I don’t know the totaling process, but even if it’s not totaled, I can’t imagine it would be safe to drive after repair. Not with the extent of the damage. I tortured myself last night by going on the MINI website to see if they even had my car anymore. Didn’t see it on the website. Well, it’s limited edition, so I guess I should have expected as much. I don’t know. I’ll see if MINI of Omaha can find one for me. Somewhere. Anywhere. If not.. oh. I didn’t want to have to get another MINI. I wanted this one to get me through 300,000 miles. 

My heart’s broken. My bones are fine, but my heart’s broken. Just like my dear car. 

Before I get any more emotional… I went to dad’s today so that I could get into a rental car. The crash, cloaked in soft snow and darkness last night, looks even more awful in the garish light of day.

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The incredible side-airbags.

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Impressed with the mostly-clean glass break.

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Well, no wonder I couldn’t get my driver’s side door open. I think even an inch more to the front would have shattered my glass.

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Pulled apart at the seams, it seems.

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Did that pole take a fucking welding class beforehand?

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How far the pole got. And an excuse to showcase my fantastic gloves.

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Bits and pieces.

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Standing at the car, looking into the yard. Can see bits of glass as well.

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Oh hey, my back window’s tint. Including some of the glass. (and those fabulous gloves, again).

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Wonky.

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Gosh, you know, I’ve got two trashbags full of clothes for the Goodwill in there.

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The cop gave me the red bit that goes in the silver bit. As a souvenir >.>

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I see my donut is alright.

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Well, shit, snow got in there.

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I’ll have you notice, that key is to the TARDIS. Might need to drive that for a while, to be honest.

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Well-parked.

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What does that face say to you?

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Thank you, you wonderful, marvelous, magnificent, superb, glorious, sublime, lovely, delightful, fantastic, tremendous, stupendous, sensational, incredibly, brilliant little bull dog of a car. And thank you to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. 

The appraiser will be around in the next couple days. Then it’ll have to be towed to MINI of Omaha. Then I’ll have to figure out the next step. As I grudgingly think about my next car, there’s no doubt at all: MINI Cooper. 

As completely shitty as this situation is, not just for me, but for the girl who hit me, I’m totally thankful for a great number of things: each of us was able to walk away, we were literally at my dad’s house so we had shelter from the cold, we also had my dad – ever the host – offering us food and drink, we had time to calm down and even laugh a bit. I would hate to think what it would have been like for her, well, for either of us, really, to have had this happen A: with someone less than apologetic/cooperative/etc, and B: out on the road where it wasn’t safe to sit/stand/otherwise. Again, as completely shitty as it was, it really was as good as it could be. Because we’re both okay, and cars/bumpers can be replaced, this is just more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Almost October

I feel like I finally have a moment. That’s not true, I’ve had plenty.

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since I’ve left London. It doesn’t seem like that long. It’s all been a blur, really. It’s strange.

The whole coming home experience was strange. I think I did myself a service by stopping in Toronto on the way back – it definitely eased me into the idea of returning.

TIFF was there, and my friend Jo, so I booked a hotel for a week and a flight back to Omaha. Since I was flying into the States on Labor Day (I just typed that with a ‘u’… sigh), there weren’t really any decent flights (or at least flights I thought I could make with a layover) either to Omaha or to Toronto. I was flying into Boston and I thought about staying the night and just flying out in the morning. Then I thought back to being in Boston in June before London and I really didn’t feel like lugging my FOUR large suitcases to a hotel and then back to the airport the next day, only to have to recheck them (and pay up the ass for that). I Google-mapped the distance from Boston to Toronto. Not bad.

I decided on renting a car once I got into Boston and then driving straight to Toronto. Seven hour flight, followed by an eight hour drive: putting me into Toronto at about 4am the following morning. I admit, it wasn’t the best timeframe, but either I would get tired along the way and have to check into a hotel or I would get to my hotel in Toronto and sleep most of the next day.

I had all of my bags packed and lined up by the flat’s door. I had checked and re-checked every nook and cranny of that place to make sure I had everything. The laundry was done, the dishes were clean; I logged out of Apple TV. Everything was ready to go. Except me. I couldn’t sleep. I was going to get up around 8am to finalize everything and get to the post office. Had to ship a box and a small suitcase home (mugs and shoes). At around 4 or 5am, I was still up and everything was ready to go. I decided to get a few hours of sleep, couldn’t hurt; I’ll sleep on the plane anyway. Woke up on time, got the box and suitcase shipped, made my last Kilburn High Road Starbucks trip. Essentially, I spent the morning trying not to cry and neurotically checking and further re-checking everything.

I was going to have a cabbie friend take me to the airport, but his cab broke down a day or two before. I was planning on being distracted on the journey to Heathrow – chatting away and probably shedding a few tears in the comfortable presence of a friend. Now I was stuck with a stranger and didn’t feel like talking at all. He was very nice, though. He had stylish sunnies and a die-cast model of a London taxi on his dash. We chatted a little bit, but mostly I stared wistfully out the windows, watching familiar streets slip away. As we got on the M4, I couldn’t help but think that I like the view from the opposite lane – the one heading into London.

Checking in was painless, even the part where I had to pay for my fourth bag. I had my last London Pride with a sandwich and headed for my gate. On the plane, I had a couple glasses of champagne and texted my family to let them know we were about to taxi. The steward, David, was pretty confused when I asked him to help me turn my seat into a sleeping bench (as it was a 230pm flight, after all). I popped a sleeping pill and hoped to wake up to the landing announcement. Somehow, with three alcoholic beverages and an herbal sleep aide, I woke after just a few hours. I spent the rest of the flight attempting to sleep and watching Star Trek Into Darkness.

When we landed in Boston, David asked if I got enough rest and if I need anything to eat – I had told him I was about to get a rental car and drive eight hours and he was concerned. “No wonder you wanted to sleep!” Whoever unloaded the baggage put all four of mine in a row, so that was fun. Getting them onto a trolley was even more fun. Had to ask a fellow passenger for assistance getting the fourth bag on top of the heap. Then the real fun began. Unfortunately, Boston Logan Airport is separate from the car rental places, so you have to take a shuttle. It was humid – which I was not happy about, nor ready for – and the shuttles were across the street and down the way. Really?

After more struggling with my bags (I realize I’ve only myself to blame for having so many and for them being so heavy) and about an hour at Hertz, I was in my piece of shit Nissan. With about 100bhp, an automatic gearbox, and interior reminiscent of a ’99 Pontiac Sunfire, I set off out of the parking lot. My left foot didn’t know what to do at first – wanting to be on the brake pedal instead of at rest. Jesus, I thought, I have driven an automatic for ten years, I have a manual for under a year – and at that, I don’t drive for three months of it – and I’m already forgetting how to just let the car drive itself. Stopping at all of the goddamn east coast toll booths resulted in the same sort of confusion. Oh my God! I can idle and then just drive off without doing anything!

I wasn’t tired, oddly enough. I was excited to be behind the wheel of a car again – even if it was a piece of shit. I hadn’t realized how much I missed driving: turning the music up and rolling the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs and tapping the steering wheel along with the beat. I was so ready to have a break from driving, what, with all the idiot drivers in Omaha. Three months is a long time, though. It felt good. I only stopped once for gas and once for food; otherwise, it was straight on til Boston.

I think I did the drive in about seven hours. I don’t know what Google Maps thinks people are going to do – maybe, obey the speed limit or fuss with antsy kids – but I knew for sure I wasn’t going to take close to nine hours. Bitch, please. I love driving at night when hardly anyone is on the road. Driving up to downtown Toronto at night was also a treat: seeing the CN Tower all lit up amongst the skyscrapers. Found the hotel, parked the car, took a shower, and fell asleep as the sun came up.

For the first few days, I didn’t really do anything. You could say I was a bit jet lagged and utterly drained. I got lots of sleep, room service, and ingested many hours of Netflix. (Finally got around to watching The Office UK – LOVE). My friend Jo came to stay a night in the hotel and surprised me with a couple tall boys of London Pride from her shop. That’s a true friend.

Finally, when I was rested enough to venture out, TIFF had officially started. I made my way to the harbourfront (there I go again), as it was only about a mile from my hotel. It was such a beautiful day – perfect weather. Down at the water, there was a strip of sand with lawn chairs (or should I say, ‘beach chairs’) and big, yellow umbrellas. How the hell could I not sit there a while. Across the water was a landing strip for one of Toronto’s airports, so I watched a few planes land. Soon enough, it was almost time for The Fifth Estate to premiere. Unfortunately, the tickets were sold out, but I wandered over to where the gala was to be held. Right away, I spotted a gal in an ‘I Am SHERlocked’ shirt and knew I was among friends.

I didn’t have the best spot for the red carpet, but I did get to see Benedict Cumberbatch arrive, as well as Laura Linney and a few other costars. It had cooled down and gotten very windy at that point, so I started back to the hotel. On my way, I noticed a pub called The Elephant & Castle. I almost kept walking, but I was drawn to it with its English name and red phone booth out front. I especially had to go in because Elephant & Castle was the last stop on my Bakerloo line in London – couldn’t have been more appropriate. Ended up sinking about six pints with this guy who owns a film company – he was in town to interview the stars at The Ritz. Said he’d look into a runner job for me in the next couple days, but they were likely already sorted. Turns out, they were, but I figured as much. Nice guy, anyway. He was married with a little girl, so we talked a lot about how important it is for fathers to make their daughters know how beautiful and special they are, as well as teach them what to expect from men as far as treatment and respect. As soon as I realized just how much I am my father’s daughter, I started to tear up and got homesick for the very first time since leaving three months ago.

The next few days, I ventured out with Jo and her friend, Lucie, for lunch at The Windsor Arms and drinks at The Ritz-Carlton. Jo spent the night in my hotel room the night before I had to go on to Omaha. I had a right time lugging my suitcases, yet again, to a taxi and through the airport. My arms were so sore from lifting and pulling and moving those damn things when I got home that it felt like I had done a strenuous workout. I guess I had. Much like I had felt when I got to Toronto. That, and a hoarse voice from all that singing…

Home. Mom and dad greeted me at the airport and I got to hang out at my brother’s new apartment that night. It was instantly normal to be back, or like I’d been there for so long already when it had only been a couple hours. Still surreal, I guess – especially because my brother had only just moved out of my dad’s and it was weird to see him in his own environment. I won’t get into that because I’ll just have a breakdown about how grown up he is, much like the one I had in London on his 21st birthday.

When I got back, I had about a week to do my twenty-page masters capstone paper, along with media accompaniment. I had my topic and about twelve books, but needed journal articles as references, too. Naturally, I started doing all of that on Thursday. The project is due Sunday. Friday was highlighting information I could use. Saturday, I typed up everything I highlighted. Sunday, I started cutting things down and actually writing. I’ll admit that I underestimated labor time a tad, but from the sounds of it, a couple of my classmates weren’t going to finish on time either. I emailed my professor and she said I could turn it in by Wednesday and be fine. There was no way in hell I was going to A: need that long, or B: let it take that long anyway. I had it in by Monday at 5pm. Nineteen pages, thirty references, and a 25-slide PowerPoint to go with it. I was done. Thank the Lord.

Now I just had to wait and see if I needed to make any revisions. In the meantime, it was Operation: Apartment Overhaul. Starting in my bedroom, I went through every single thing in my closet and got rid of two trashbags worth, rearranged my furniture, oh, and unpacked all four of my suitcases; from there, I bought a new entertainment center that would hold all of my movies, reorganized my bookcases, moved around some more furniture, and decluttered enough to fill four large tubs. Tubs are in the garage along with my luggage, apartment is clean and organized (save for my desk area, just a tad), and my life was almost in order.

I still hadn’t heard back about my damn capstone. My other classmates heard either Saturday or Sunday. I emailed my professor to see if she was able to access the PowerPoint, you know, to maybe spark her into saying ‘oh yeah, by the way, you passed.’ All I got back was, yep, I could; thanks for checking! Then I thought, great – everyone else has heard back, but she’s probably getting ready to tell me that I have all these revisions to make or that I missed the mark completely and I’d have to redo the entire thing. I even dreamt about it that night – I got an email from (who I recognized as) the dean and he said that I got an A- and then proceeded to tell me what everyone else got. I woke up wishing that were the case. Finally, that night, I emailed the professor asking, as politely as I could, when I should expect to hear back. I just wanted to buy a frame for my goddamn degree and get that motherfucker on the wall, next to my bachelors degree, my notary, and my warrant.

She emailed back saying that all grades were out, degrees were complete, and that I got an A-.

I got in my car that minute and went to Target for a frame. Found the perfect frame, on sale, and my masters degree now hangs proudly among my other accolades. Dreams really do come true.

Now. My apartment is almost perfect, I officially hold a masters in media psychology, and I’m jobless. My goals? To get back into the gym, to start writing (something, anything), to find a job in TV/film/media (particularly something to do with British TV/film); mainly, I want to be free. I want to be free to- to do what I want to do. I want to get loaded, and I want to have a good time. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to have a good time.

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