Somewhere along the line I seem to have become somebody who names their cars. I never set out to name them all, but looking back, I realize that almost every one I have owned has had a name. Perhaps I was inspired by a friend who named her little red Chevy, Nanny Nova. My first car was a goose-shit green, four-door 1970 Chevrolet Malibu. My sisters and I each took a turn at driving it, and each of us hated it as much as the one before. We called it The Green Bomb. It had few redeeming features, unless you count the capacious back seat, which… saw some good times.
The Green Bomb was replaced by a little silver Honda CRX HF. It got amazing gas mileage and thrived on neglect. It was the first car I ever owned, and because my parents failed to educate me in the ways of car maintenance, I drove it into the ground. I think I serviced it once in the time I owned it. Because I always had bad dreams about werewolves, I named my CRX The Silver Bullet. Steve bought a CRX also, and after we moved up to the Bay area, it didn’t take long before we got tired of only having two-seater cars to transport our friends and family around in when they came to visit. The CRX was replaced with an Acura Integra with more seats, and apparently, less personality. Somehow the Acura never got a name.
Once I started doing field biology, I needed something I could drive off-road. Taking the Acura out on levees where it would bottom out and come back reeking of burning weeds wasn't a comfortable feeling, but it looked cool with a kayak strapped to the top. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to replace the Acura with until I saw the new Subaru Outback. What a great-looking car! It reminded me of the dirty little green cartoon SUV in the Chevron commercials with two bikes in a rack on top. Freddie 4-Wheeler was what it was called, and so that was what I called my Subaru. It was a great car for about eight years, but then, as my father would say, it began to show its whiskers. Subarus don't seem to hold together too well. Cup holders got shattered by the simple act of my children misstepping in the back seat. The front cup holders were positioned so that a sweating soda cup would drip right into the climate control knobs, which became sticky and quit working. The worst part of its aging was that the car developed a persistent oil leak that left it smoking from the hood at stop lights.
For my 40th birthday, we replaced the Subaru with a Volvo XC90. I really wanted that car, but had some major reservations. Gas mileage was number one. With predictions that gas prices would go up to $5 a gallon, I thought seriously about getting the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We liked the Highlander, but that third row of seats was tiny! Price was another factor. At over $40 thousand dollars, it seemed like a pretty extravagant expense. I tried to talk myself out of wanting the Volvo by doing a lot of reading online on car owner forums about the XC90. I hoped I'd find tons of people talking about what a crappy car it was for the money. Most owners really liked the car though, and the many glowing accounts about the safety of the Volvo, eased my doubts. One owner, however, recounted a horror story about a trip to
Growing up in
The first apartment I lived in was home to a bunch of college students. I was roommates with my best friend Jenny. We have known each other since we were 14, but after living together, took a year-long, much-needed hiatus from speaking to each other. The group of neighbors in one wing of this complex got together regularly. We did our grocery shopping and hung out by the pool eating Popsicle Big Sticks and gossiping. Sort of like Melrose Place, without all of the promiscuity. My bedroom window looked out on the parking lot in which my poor little CRX HF got broken into multiple times, and gutted of its stereo system. On a more positive note, my neighbor, Matt serenaded me with You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling from the parking lot beneath this window (in a completely platonic way). This was the year that the movie Top Gun came out, and we lived about 2 miles from where it was filmed. One of my neighbors was my future husband, Steve.
About two years later, Steve and I flew up to northern California to look for a place to live. The company he worked for was relocated, and he asked me to move in with him. After a week of searching, we had had very little luck finding something affordable that was also in a neighborhood that lived up to our high standards. Running out of time, we finally found a little place with the coolest nautilus-shaped shower. The stall needed no door, and instead you circled back into the inner chambers to conduct your ablutions. The view from all of the windows was quite unremarkable, and did not indicate any cause for concern. Congratulating ourselves on our good luck, we paid our first month’s rent. Just as were signing the rental agreement, we heard the first train rattle by. Too late now, we shrugged, and finished off our signatures. Two months later, we had moved to a locale a bit more off the beaten tracks.
We lived with Steve’s parents for a while after we had Weston and before we bought our house. His parents have a huge old valley oak tree in front of their house, and our bedroom window looked out into the branches of that tree. At the time I was working on getting my Master’s degree in biology. One afternoon I was studying for my ecology class and reading about feeding guilds. According to the book I was studying, all of the species that feed on a plant in the same way are part of the same guild. This is not a totally easy concept to visualize, but as I looked out at that oak tree, it became totally clear. A flock of California quail could be seen pecking around the base of the tree in one guild. A nuthatch, and a bunch of chickadees feeding on insects gleaned from the bark belonged to another. The woodpecker drilling deep beneath the bark belonged to a third. I think I aced that question in the essay section of my exam.
I moved so many times between that first apartment and our current house, that by the time we owned our own little slice of San Jose, my personal belongings had been pared down to a few pieces of furniture, clothes, and the contents of one or two large boxes. When we first moved in our bedroom looked out on a Doughboy style pool surrounded by aggregate patio. Terrified that I would wake up one morning to find Weston floating face down in the pool, I insisted that we get rid of it. It wasn’t a very nice pool anyway. It was always filled with leaves from the overhanging trees. It wasn't heated either, so anything deeper than the first two inches was shrink-your-assets cold. So out the pool came, and after several years of trying to landscape the remaining hole, we finally put in a lawn and a nice interlocking paving stone patio. Now, eleven years later, we have come full circle. The summer of 2008 has been a hot one. Almost all of the kids in our neighborhood are a lot older than Garrett. Consequently though he loves to swim, he hardly gets invited to another house to do so. A couple of weekends ago, Steve and I went out and bought a small inflatable pool that holds about 180 gallons of water. The kids love it and spend hours wetting every available surface within 10 feet with their splashing. Including my bedroom window, which once again looks out on a pool.
I consider shoes to be one of the finest additions to any wardrobe. It is difficult for a woman to have enough shoes because unlike men, we can’t get away with pairing almost any outfit with shoes in the following categories: formal brown, formal black, casual brown, casual black, and running shoe, with the occasional casual sandal thrown in. Women need casual and formal heels in a myriad of colors and hues, flats, sandals, thongs, etc. ad nauseam. With all of the shoes we have to keep on hand, the occasional fashion faux pas is nearly unavoidable. But some shoes are just so mind-jarringly ugly that they give me a headache and make me grumpy. They follow in no particular order:
The peep toe flat:
This shoe (and even peep toe heels sometimes), is guaranteed to make any outfit, no matter how cute, scream 80’s frump.
These things are God awful! Add those Jibbitz things to them, and they don’t improve. They look like they would make your feet smell nasty after about a half hour. I’ve heard they’re comfortable, but people, wear them to fetch the newspaper at the end of the driveway or out to garden. Think of them like pajamas. Comfortable for around the house, but don’t leave the house in them. And here’s another thing. Mothers, don’t put these on your little boys. Just don’t.
Spritz on a little patchouli and rat your hair into dreadlocks and maybe through on a gypsy skirt and your hippie look will be complete.
And these things:
How does any man plunk these on his feet and say to himself, “There. My look is complete.” They are guaranteed to highlight your worst features guys. White legs and toe hair! Step away from the clunky Velcro sandal.
Thank you for listening!
Steve and I have a huge collection of books. So large, in fact, that our five bookshelves don’t hold it. Books litter all of the horizontal surfaces of our house, and this is AFTER we had a garage sale (I hate those things) and practically gave away all of the books that we weren’t ever planning to read again. It also doesn’t include the two shelves of books in the boys’ rooms. My criteria for getting rid of a book was whether I could remember any of the plot details without looking at the synopsis on the back or inside cover. If the answer was no (hello Oprah’s Vanilla-Flavored Plots Book Club) then the book went into the get-rid-of-it pile.
It recently occurred to me that the reason that we have so many books is that Steve and I have completely different taste in books. While I love books that are heavy on plot, Steve is much more into books that engage in a lot of what I refer to as navel-gazing. I recently read Ian McEwan’s ,A Child In Time, and while I enjoyed it, I found my self mentally fast-forwarding through a lot of parts in which the main character embarks upon esoteric mental journeys into some perhaps imagined past. “Whatever.”, I thought, “Just tell me what happens next. Does he find his daughter?” Steve loves Ian McEwan, and Kazuo Ishiguro. He is as much enchanted by the linguistic style, as he is by the story. I loved The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Steve recently picked it up, and as much as he wanted to love it, just didn’t. If we had a more similar taste in books, I’m guessing our book cases would be less stuffed.
I think our reading styles are reflected in our speaking styles. When I tell as story, I leave out extraneous and sometime even necessary detail, and stick to the meat of the point I’m trying to get across. Steve’s speaking style is a tad more, (erm….) loquacious. When he tells a story, no detail is left untold, and he has yet to meet a subreference (or even sub subreference) that he didn’t feel would enhance his story by its in-depth exploration. If speaking style does in fact reflect reading style, I wonder how never reading for pleasure, as is fairly common in our television oriented society, is reflected in speech?