25 June 2010

Henry: Repaired

25 May 2010

It took 16 days for my car to be repaired. In that time, Jesse & I both talked to our insurance company, who had read the police report and determined we were 100% not at fault. But it takes two insurance companies to get a claim reimbursed. My insurance agent had all kinds of trouble getting info from the other driver. And then the other insurance company did not want to accept fault. I can see why - repairs were nearly $6,000.

We're now nearly 2 months from the day the crash happened and there still hasn't been a resolution. But I picked Henry up from the repair shop the day he was ready. I paid my deductible and you bet your bum I'm waiting for my reimbursement. The repair shop did a great job. My car looked and handles as if he were new.

I had been indifferent toward the future of my car up until this day. Having it has been problematic on more than one occasion. And if I weren't nearly upside down on it, I would have sold it. But as i drove away from the auto body shop, I realized I'm close to owning Henry. More than that, he's a good car backed by a great warranty. He's gotten us up through the mountains of Arizona, to North Dakota & back, and everywhere else we've wanted to go. He's used, has some dirty interior and some scratches. He's weathered, but reliable. He's my car and I do care what happens to him.

So my repaired car came with a renewed appreciation. I'll continue to take care of him and to pay for him. He's already proven he's worth it.

24 June 2010

May 2010 v | Emmy Night

The best part about getting in that car crash was the dress I got out of the deal.

We took the rental and tried to stick to "plan a." But as we headed to Napa, we found a whole new set of outlets in Petaluma. We stopped. We shopped. I found a dress and a purse. Jesse didn't find anything. The dress was half as much as the orange one and just as lovely. So despite having a possibly totaled Henry, a weight had been lifted.

15 May 2010

We spent the next six days preparing. Jesse found a suit he liked, and got it tailored. I found a bracelet and used it to shop for matching shoes. The morning of Emmy night arrived and we just had a few errands left to run - shoes, shirt & tie. Jesse would have preferred for me to shop with him, then for me do my shopping on my own. I stood firmly against that logic, agreeing to shop with him if he shopped with me. The result: we did our shopping separately. His loss really, as I found shoes almost immediately. Just as quickly, I knew Jesse would hate them.

They were chunky - and I don't mind that. I've always been a bigger person and I generally dislike dainty things. I feel as if they're designed to make big people feel larger. I think it only fair that something makes a big person feel small. If that something happens to be on a closeout sale, even better.

Part of me recognized I am an adult and should dress like one. I happened upon a second pair of shoes that were the same color and much more appropriate. The shoes reminded me of Kate - dainty. I sent her pictures telling her as much. I knew she & Jesse would pick the same, non-chunky shoe. But I bought them both anyway to try on with the dress. I honestly did not want to be the giant girl in tiny shoes. People talk about that girl and they do not say nice things.

Once I was home, there was no contest. The dainty shoes won by a mile, just by making my legs look better. We got ready and Jesse called a cab to be our chariot. There was no way for me to walk in those shoes. Seriously women, we have to stop doing this to ourselves. I don't think the cab we called ever came. We were saved by a cabbie who could tell I was under-dressed (Jesse disapproved of the wrap I picked - even though he bought it for me from Thailand), and in a hurry. We met some people for a pre-show drink and walked to the venue. I think I pretended to be taking in the (everyday) scenery. But I just didn't know how to walk. Jesse pretended with me, although I'm sure it killed him to walk that slowly. He's swell.

Cell phone pictures before we left.

There were two routes to take at the ceremony: sit & watch or flutter & chat. I tried to sit & watch, but there were a lot of people there who I had not seen in months. Schedules are intense in my business. Once someone moves from one to another, it's likely they'll never see their former shift-mates. There are of course rare encounters, usually when there's a going away party. But even in those instances, we're not as dressed up as we were for Emmy night. So after sitting and spotting some long lost friends, I started saying visiting tables and saying hello. I'm not sure it was the right thing to do etiquette wise, but it felt good to see people who missed me.

I didn't win in either category for which I was nominated. I really wanted to bring home the gold. I had a speech prepared, and Jesse recorded the lead up to thee winner in our category. There may be a collective moan at the end when another winner was announced. I don't know, I didn't watch. I had a lot of fun though, despite not winning. I didn't feel that it had been a waste of time or money - although we had spent a lot of both. The food was good. The (white) wine was good. The friends were there. A coworker of mine received an award and gave an excellent speech. It was actually the highlight of the night.

And then things got silly. You know that point when you could home and avoid any potentially embarrassing situations? A lot of us thought that point was still in the future, even though it had probably passed during the ceremony. We traveled in large groups to the bar at the top of the hotel. It overlooked the city, which was covered in fog. The window had an industrial feel, with metal bars crisscrossing a large window. Jesse aptly described it as the Batcave. The window and the fog did provide a very Gotham City feel. Inside the bar, we were all happy. A lot of people were going from table to table, wide-eyed and excited. It was that perfect point in the night, when everyone was tipsy and pleasant. And somehow I recognized it was the best time to stop drinking.

I spent the night talking to whoever appeared on the couch on which I was planted. I remember posing for a lot of pictures - but they were apparently not with my camera. We closed down the hotel bar and went to some other place across the street. We really had no reason to go there - Jesse had stopped drinking too. Still, we went. The bouncer was mean. The women started to get woozy. The attempt to carry the mood from one bar to another failed. We took the hint and split a cab home.

Danie & Maren

Jesse & Andy. Too bad for them I only accept smiles.

As we were walking into our building, one of us realized we really needed to take some pictures. We only had one together and it was just okay. Our we've-been-out-and-are-ready-for-bed pictures didn't come out much better. I'm sure we'll do better next time.

May 2010 iv | Hulk Smash ii

I have no idea what they did while waiting for the CHP, but I took pictures Two officers showed up and took our statements separately. Sometime while Jesse was being debriefed, I realized I would not be taking the lead on handling this. Jesse was the driver. I was just there - at best a biased witness. That was odd. Usually, the more complex the process, the less involvement Jesse prefers. This was going to be an ordeal and he had no choice but to take the lead.

The officer told Jesse he should have had a California license 20 months prior. Jesse still uses his North Dakota ID, nearly five years after moving to Nevada and then California. I think it's some kind of insurance policy. He can leave me and seamlessly reestablish his residence in the Peace Garden State. In Nevada, switching licenses was as easy as walking into the DMV and taking a picture. In California testing is required. I've done both and lived to tell the tale. I suppose Jesse is waiting for living in California to feel right. I digress.

An officer stopped traffic and Jesse drove Henry to the other side of the street. My poor little car was limping and scrapping. There was no way we were going to be driving home, the jaunt across the street was rough. I started cleaning out the car. He was going to have to go to a shop and it occurred to me I might not ever get him back. I took documents and CDs and realized I didn't have enough bag to carry everything. I called Roadside Assistance, which sent a tow truck. We swapped officers and Jesse told his tale again. The two officers compared notes, then left. The other driver & her husband drove away. Our tow truck driver came quickly and we all headed to the Hyundai-recommended dealership.

Comparing notes.

Assessing something.

Also assessing.

Our driver confirmed my good feelings - saying there are usually a lot of fatalities on that road. He then detailed a few of the recent, bloody deaths. He also recommended places to eat. I don't know how we made that conversation shift, but we did. And it didn't seem awkward.

View from the back seat.

The service department at the Hyundai-recommended dealership was closed. The tow truck driver released Henry and went on his way. My mood shifted. We were in a small town on a Sunday afternoon. I called every car rental agency within a three mile radius. The were all closed. We were stuck. The system that had been working so well, failed. We had insurance. We had roadside assistance. We got a tow truck quickly and I knew I was covered for a rental. But there was no way to get that rental. I played everything over in my head. We had done everything right and yet we were stuck in an empty service department miles from home, in a city where we don't have friends we can disturb on a Sunday afternoon to drive up to wine country and get us. It's a drawback of moving so often; we're always alone. I was at a loss. And I firmly believe God sent us a solution.

"Do you guys need a ride?"

Her name was Erica. She was the manager of the closed service department and she just happened to have stopped by work on a Sunday afternoon. She lived one exit from the Santa Rosa Airport, which houses car rental agencies. She waited for me to verify there were available cars there and she drove us to the airport. We made small talk and I just wanted to hug her. She really saved us. We thanked her profusely and I started thinking of things to send her. Nothing came to mind. What do you give in that instance? Are there etiquette rules for kind strangers who make life easier? If there are, let me know.

We rented a car. It started raining. We (who had planned some sort of a nice lunch) stopped at Carl's Jr. for greasy comfort food and a milkshake. We updated the parents and assessed our situation. It was somewhere around 2:30. We still had shopping to do.

23 June 2010

May 2010 iv | Hulk Smash

It gets way worse than bad hair.

9 May 2010

Jesse & I went on a shopping excursion. We were six days from Emmy time and neither of us had anything to wear. We decided to go to the NapaPremium Outlets. It was on of those days when Jesse was really excited to be going for a drive and when I was surly because I was going to have to shop. As we pulled out of the parking spot, Jesse asked me for the GPS.

But I didn't have it. I hadn't even thought to grab it. I thought he knew where we were going. Apparently Jesse had asked me to grab it but I didn't hear him. Neither of us thought to drive back home and get it. We just hit the road and I used my phone to get directions. I give you these details because they prove to be important.

I snooze in wine country. And I was on my way to being asleep when Jesse asked me if he should turn or go straight. I opened my eyes and saw no signs. I repeated the last instructions I had given - which were to stay on "so & so" until "blah blah." So he stayed straight. But "so & so" turned. Heading straight meant we had actually gotten on to a road for which we had no use. Naturally that would not have happened if I had grabbed the GPS. Jesse was telling me exactly that as he prepared to turn onto a side road.

He signaled.

He turned.

I grabbed my door.

My brain said he's looking at oncoming traffic but there's a car next to us. It's going to hit him. We have to stop. They have to stop. We can't stop. They're going to hit him. And just like the previous time when I had been hit by a car, the thoughts were quick. I had just enough time to brace, yet still process I was not about to be affected. I think all Jesse knew was the crash.

We collided.

The double yellow lines the other driver crossed. The road we were intending to take.

Henry's Bumper.

My car that had been on the right side of the road was then on the left, in a ditch. It didn't happen in slow motion - Jesse was moving too fast for that. He was furious, which I took to mean that he was not hurt. I assessed him as his mutterings grew into a crescendo. He put Henry (poor Henry!) in park. He killed the ignition (little guy was still running), he took off his seat belt and got out of the car. I knew he was not going to check on the driver - he didn't even check on me. Jesse was furious.

Using some NC-17 language, he inquired why the other driver had hit us, how she could have thought we were pulling over when our left blinker was blinking. I watched from the car. I saw her husband get out and thought what any rational news person would have thought: the husband has a gun and is going to shoot Jesse for yelling at his wife. It happens to lots of people, so why not us. My dad actually was shot for cussing at a woman. And what he said was not nearly as rude as what was coming out of a shirtless(?) Jesse. I did my best to diffuse. I started by getting a pen, notebook and camera out of the car.

"Are you guys okay?" - Danie
"$@%$&^(^(^*%##^" - Jesse
"Yeah we're fine. You?" - The husband - who I was glad to see was not brandishing a weapon.

While the front of my car was in a ditch, the back was blocking the road. Jesse tried to lift it by himself. And then "Danielle can you help push?" He always calls me by my full name when he wants to tell me it's imperative that I listen and not question. I pushed from my door - kind of what I perceive to be Henry's armpit. Some other drivers helped too. We stopped short of where Jesse had launched his shirt. He thanked the people who had helped. One told us he had called CHP. And just as quickly as they appeared, they vanished, leaving us and them. I still hadn't ruled out a weapon, so I suggested Jesse take a walk while I called our insurance company.

The insurance company told me I could call them once we were situated. I was going to have to go talk to them. I gathered my paper, pen, ID, insurance card & phone and went over to them. I assumed it wasn't their first crash, since they knew all the insurance company needed was license plate information.

I noted theirs and went back to my corner, where parents needed to be called and pictured needed to be taken. Jesse, having no more use for the Hulk, was back to being Bruce Banner. He kept apologizing and I found myself smiling. We were okay. I told him he could have been t-boned if he had turned sharper. I told him we had good insurance, that we hadn't done anything wrong and that Henry would either be fixed or totaled and that we could handle either. We didn't have anywhere we needed to be and no one had been shot. Most importantly, I asked him why he had taken off his shirt. He had no answer. So we sat and waited for the highway patrol.

22 June 2010

May 2010 iii | Hair

May started showing its true colors about 6 days after the flea market when I went to get my hair done.

I ended up with the wrong hair.

Here's how it works. Most of my hair comes out of a bag. It's synthetic (read: made in China) and is usually braided or twisted into my hair. Sometime late last year I switched from braids to twists. The untrained eye would say I went from long, straight braids to shorter, curlier braids. The twists take less time and cost the same amount of money. Also I think they look better around my face.

So I made an appointment to get twists one week before the Emmy ceremony, so they would fresh, but not painfully tight. I like to pride myself on that kind of foresight. Unfortunately I did not have the foresight to confirm with my braid technician. It was early. I had been up late removing the old hair. I had a book I was excited to start reading. I said hello and promptly buried my face. And for all intents and purposes, the pain is the same. Can you imagine my surprise when (six hours later) I am pulled from a deteriorating town of Chester's Mill and into my own horror: great braids done with cheap hair.

The woman did a good job. But it was not what I wanted. No, I didn't say anything. I hadn't noticed. She didn't confirm either. And I took that to mean she had checked the appointment book and knew what I wanted. Another woman working there (who I have come to mildly dislike in my time at this salon) chimed in with "you thought those were twists the whole time?"

A) No one was talking to her.
B+) Why wouldn't I? It was what I had asked to have done.

I told Miss-Nosey-Pants that I had no reason to suspect otherwise. And that it wasn't a big deal. The severity of the situation was never lost on me. You may say "oh a woman didn't like her hair cut. Big deal. It happens." But it's more complex than that. I don't think people who don't like their hair cuts have to pay. In this instance we were talking about close to $200. I had what I wanted, and they had not yet been paid. I could have started screaming, caused a scene and run out without paying. I could have demanded she undo what she had done over six hours and start again. There were a lot of ways I could have made that situation worse. I chose none of the above. I paid, and I left. I even tipped. We shared the blame for that mishap. But she was sorry. She had done a good job. And she had stood up combing through my nappy head for six hours.

I had also (before I even made my appointment) planned to never go back there anyway. So what was the harm?

01 June 2010

May 2010 ii

Still on the plus side for May: tailgating at the flea market.

Technically, it's the Alameda Point Antiques & Collectibles Faire. It comes to Alameda one Sunday a month and stretches as far as the eye can see. Everything sold there has to be at least 20 years old. And there really is something for everyone. I'm not one to buy stuff. I don't like clutter. And I generally hesitate to accept germs from other people's things. Before going, I was worried I'd be stepping into a giant garage sale. Fortunately, I was wrong. But I digress.

Ajit, Mariana, Trisha & I started the party in the car. Designated driver Ajit poured while we three girls gabbed. It was very I'm too young to drink or I'm too broke to buy of us. It was naughty enough to make me giggle. I used to see Mariana & Trisha at least weekly. Now we seriously have to start drinking at 9AM on a Sunday just to know what's up with each other. Once the vodka, juice and wine were gone, we made the trek to the grounds.

The Alameda flea market (as I will continue to call it) is a big deal. We were stuck in traffic on the way there and were parked a (slow & drunken) 15 minute walk away. I wish I could describe the wonderment. If you need it (and you want a well preserved vintage version of it), you'll find it there. Sure there were old dirty purses and plastic bracelets and gaudy jewelry. But there were also wrought iron birdcages, metal lunchboxes, furniture and art. It was a nice set up and was probably even nicer because it was a clear day.

Not ten minutes after mentioning I was in the market for white sunglasses did Mariana spot some. They were $15 and even though I was okay paying that, I stayed quiet while Marian haggled on my behalf. I'm not a haggler. Who am I to tell you how much your work is worth? Probably a sucker. But I know I would walk away before I would pay what I felt to be too much. So maybe it all evens out. I bought the glasses. Fun? You bet.

Post portable restroom. (Shudder)

With Mariana

With Trisha

Coolest chair we found. It was built to go into a corner, but had a round seat. A built in coaster would have made it perfect.

We were there long enough to have to use the portable restrooms (gag) and for Ajit to eat a massive sausage. I bought a book of short stories for $3 and Mariana bought some necklaces and bracelets. And somehow we ended up at a winery.

I did not know there was a winery so close. I also had no idea where I was, so maybe my idea of close doesn't mean anything. Mariana, Trisha & I went through the entire offering. I learned from tasting with Angie that it helps to take notes. Again, there's something so giggly about drinking on a nice day. I don't know how it was for Ajit. I doubt there's anything giggly about driving three drunk women from place to place. But I could be wrong. We surely provided ample opportunity for entertainment.

See? Ajit was totally amused.

By the time we got to a Mexican restaurant and ordered everything on the menu, we couldn't bring ourselves to touch the pitcher of sangria we ordered. I was home, sleeping it off by 3PM. By the time Jesse got home from work, it was like a third day to the weekend. Perfection.