Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hot Hot Heat


I had a great time with the rabbi last night. We talked about spirituality for a good 2 hours. I got some new things to read, and then I saw the film, which was great. I left his house in a great, thoughtful mood. I was listening to classical music on the drive home because I knew it would occupy my speedy brain, but relax me enough to let the thoughts about my book flow.

On the way home I picked up some vegetable rolls for dinner, and when I started my car outside the restaurant it sounded really weird. It was a sound I had heard before, and usually it goes away in a couple minutes, so I didn't worry about it. Figured there was a leaf stuck in a pipe or something. Well. No leaf.

When I got home, great mood continuing, ready to munch on some veggie rolls and think and read, I turned the car off. Only it wouldn't turn off. I took the key out of the ignition, and it was still making a sound like I was just turning the key to turn it on. It sounded ugly. So I put the key back in and turned it back on. Sounded better. So I tried the experiment again, and even after I took the key a second time the car was still trying to start. I had no idea what to do, so I turned it back on, took my housekey off the keychain and went inside to call AAA.

It takes forever to get an operator on the phone (forever in the terms of a person who is really freaked out about strange car behavior, so probably like 2 minutes) and then go through the whole process of contact information, explaining the problem, etc. About 4 minutes into my conversation with the operator, I turn toward the window to look at my car. There is smoke everywhere.


I ran out there to see what was going on, and (like an idiot, actually, because this was very dangerous), I opened the door, got in and turned the car off. Disgusting-smelling smoke poured out from under the hood, and filled the interior of the car. I ran coughing back to the phone and finished giving my information so AAA would send someone out to help me... I didn't know what they would do besides tow the car, but maybe shed some light on what the hell just happened.

I sat down, stinking of poisonous smoke, in the living room and ate my vegetable rolls in a daze while I waited for the guy to get there. I have no recollection of tasting them, or of fumbling with my chopsticks, just the waiting. I may have watched some Seinfeld.

Anyway so the guy shows up, and the car won't even turn on so he can get it in gear and get it out of there. Though he does confirm that there was a FIRE under the hood. Bah. So there's nothing that can be done that night. I'm still in pretty good spirits because really it was sort of funny. I mean I know it sucks for your car to be on fire and all, but still.
So now it's two days later and the car is in the shop, waiting for a determination as to whether it is totaled or not. I can't decide whether I would rather pay $2,000 + to get the car repaired or just have it totaled - not that I have any control over the outcome. Either way, it seems unlikely the insurance company is going to pay for it, because they will not cover a fire that was caused by mechanical failure. Awesome. Somehow my mood is starting to suffer, just a little.

I'm looking at cars, though, and considering leasing. It would be nice to have a new car every couple years, and not have to worry about this crap. I have to say that my Corolla was very dependable. This was the first major problem I had with it. So I guess it decided to go all out and make a scene. Some problem with being beige or something. I wouldn't like being beige either, but I don't know if I would light myself on fire over it.

But I'm pissed because the night before all this happened, I did my taxes and found that I am getting about $3,000 back. I was so excited because that could be like a little savings for my book on top of the other saving I am doing. And then voila! up in smoke. So we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I'm meeting with the rabbi tonight to see his film in its finished version and to discuss my book idea. Should be interesting. Actually now that I'm looking at the clock I see that I have to leave in like 10 minutes. Quick blog entry!

Now that I'm here I'm having trouble remembering my day.

Well one thing is that I am going to have some work to do on the issue of eminent domain. Our office has been working on a bill, and it looks like it might finally be getting some traction. The bill has been my baby all along - I hammered out language with the office of legislative services, I have worked with the residents whose homes are being taken away. So I am maintaining control of this one, which presents me with a much-needed challenge and something to think about. For anyone who doesn't know, eminent domain is the legal concept that allows the government to take your home or business. In some cases, like for building roads and bridges, it's an unfortunate necessity, but in other cases property is being taken for private redevelopment purposes. And that's not cool. The Supreme Court put its reluctant stamp of approval on the practice last year, but left the door open for states to make stronger laws than the feds have on it. So that's what we're trying to do for New Jersey.

In other news, I'm drawing a blank on other news. So I guess I'll kill it before we all start gagging.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Clean and Free(lance)

Bladdy Bloodie Blah Blah.

My brain is turning to mush from being in the office alone all day, but I have to say I sort of enjoyed the peace. Of course when the phone rings once, it will ring again and again while I'm on the first call, but whatever. I'm not going to stress over it.

Now that John and I are on Project Clean, I actually look forward to going home. I know I have some dishes waiting to be done, but aside from that the place is so relaxing and clean. If only I could find a way to completely eliminate dust and cat hair without vacuuming the entire time I'm home. Tonight I think we're both going to the gym, and then just lounging.

I found some freelance writing jobs online today, some of which can be done from home. I think it will be good for a number of reasons for me to do some of that, not the least of which is that I could bring in some extra money to put into savings. I'm pretty happy with what I have been saving for the last 6 months, in fact I'll be able to take advantage of the Roth IRA this year for the first time, but of course it would be great to save more. I think I am going to need a new car in the next 24 months or so, and I would love to not have to pay it off in installments. Now that I am out of debt, I can't really deal with the idea of being in it again. If I could manage to save a few thousand dollars (a few, as in like 10 outside of my usual), I could just buy a car with cash. John's talking about the leasing option, but the bottom line is I just don't want to be paying two or three hundred dollars a month for something that is either depreciating in value, or that I don't even own.

So if I can do some freelance writing or proofreading, that would be THE awesome. I think it would also convince me that I don't always need to be tied to a regular job to make money and be challenged. If I get a good freelance thing going, down the road that could come in really handy. Man, you should see the "opportunities" out there though. I saw one for a "writer's assistant." It included travel throughout Europe, with time for shopping, taking dictation, typing, editing, oh and just the occasional massage on demand. Females only. Submit your resume and PHOTO here. Gross. Thank goodness those were far outnumbered by some pretty cool leads.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Most of today I have spent alone, since John went out to PA to see Zak and work on the website for his iPod program. A great idea, I think; Zak has some pretty creative designs. So left to my own devices I was surprisingly productive. There was the dry cleaning, the grocery store, cleaning the apartment... It was my intention all day to go to the gym too. I almost didn't make it, but at about 20 to 6 I forced myself out the door, and I'm glad because I feel great.

There's this machine I use at the gym - this thing where you lift yourself up sort of like chin-ups, but there's something supporting part of your weight so weaklings like me can actually accomplish something. I hadn't used it in a couple weeks, so like an ass I tried climing onto the thing the wrong way (the pad you kneel on was folded up). Some very nice woman came over and pointed out the obvious for me. Had I pursued the climb I was attempting, there is a good chance I could have knocked the whole apparatus over, impaling myself on a rubber-ended hand bar. What a way to go.

When I got home, I blissfully ordered some vegetable rolls, and set about doing some household chores while I waited for the food to arive. Usually that stuff makes me want to rip my hair out, but I think the workout left me feeling good. When dinner arrived, I sat down to watch Imagine, the documentary about John Lennon. Although I have been a Beatles fan since I was a kid, I half expected to turn it off about half way through, but I didn't. It was great. What an interesting, flawed, vulnerable guy. Of course the documentary covers his death, and after learning so much about him I found myself crying. Just seeing all the people mourning in the streets made me cry because it really seemed like the message he wanted to get across had been received. I mean his quest for peace... People really seemed to get it and want to honor it and him. I wish it had caught fire like he probably hoped it would.

When the credits came on, the song playing in the background was In My Life, which has always been for me sort of a less interesting Beatles song. But when my grandfather died in January, I made this DVD with photos of him and I put that song on it, so I think now I'll always associate it with him. Well I immediately started bawling. I wasn't even thinking about my grandfather, so it was a little confusing for me at first. When I made the connection, it just brought everything out. Once in a while, since his funeral, I am surprised by how raw the pain still is, despite the fact that I keep it deep in my pocket most of the time. The death of a family member, especially someone like him, makes this uncomplicated and steady pain that can be brought up at any time.

The other thing I did today is learn a little bit more about my Nikon D50. I learned how to control the flash, finally, and I had so much fun shooting stuff around the house, particularly the cat, who is no longer stuck in the flashed-out-eyes rut. Look at some of my photos. Next time I'll shoot people, I promise, but I was in isolation today, so work with me.

Not only can you see his eyes, but also the feline acne on his chin. He's mortified. Posted by Picasa

Sense of entitlement. Posted by Picasa

Sports setting with incandescent white balance mode! Posted by Picasa

It snowed a little bit at the Jersey Shore last week, so I took some pictures. Posted by Picasa

I live right on the railroad tracks, but also 5 blocks from the beach! Posted by Picasa

Here's my niece, Alexis. I had to get Melissa's permission to put her daughter on the internet, so this is from Thursday. Isn't she cute?! Posted by Picasa

And here is that Grandpa I was talking about. I love this photo because it looks like he's going to start the boat and chug off to Heaven. God, I miss him. Posted by Picasa