Monthly Archives: July 2012

Vehicle-Related Misfortune: Part 1 of One Million

Jana: Alright, guys. The time has come to talk about my cars.

I’ve been avoiding this post because there is just SO MUCH to say. I would think about writing it and suddenly become overwhelmed with memories of all the terrible things that have happened to cars I have owned, and think, how could that ever work? Think of the subheadings! There’s just no way.

So, today I have decided to start by telling you two little stories. Gradually, as time goes on and I heal from the more recent incidents, I will share those with you as well. Just to pique your interest (PIQUE! That word is spelled cooler than it has a right to be, or perhaps I am spelling it wrong?), here is the list I am working from:

PT Cruiser:

– Tires slashed

– Towed (while on a first date)

– Eventually destroyed by electrical damage (father’s fault)

Honda Fit:

– Rear-ended and pushed into car in front of me (damage to front and back)

– Plow backed into me destroying front of car (plow driver screamed at me)

– Towed

– Towed (one week after first towing)

– Window smashed

– $300 in tickets accumulated from expired parking permit

– $600 ticket acquired after driving into a construction zone, in a tunnel, at midnight

As you can see, my car life has been fraught with tears, near-death experiences, and the expenditure of vast amounts of money. But, let that all go! For now, let’s just focus on the first and third items on the PT Cruiser list.

So, yes! I owned a PT Cruiser. It was black, like all good mini-hearses should be, and it came to be mine when I inherited it from my Aunt, a wonderful woman who was so wackily awesome that when she decided to buy a new car in her 70s, she bought a PT Cruiser because she thought it was weird and cool. And then I got it, and I also thought it was weird and cool, despite what all of my friends said.

Here is a picture of the car that I had! Keep in mind that mine was, just in general, more disgusting-looking. I didn’t clean it much/ever, etc, and I’m certain that the sunset was never able to be reflected in its hatchback.

Anyway, I had it for three years. During its third year, in January of 2010, it was seriously injured for the first time. Here’s what happened: I lived in Allston. I had taken a week off from work for the holidays, and on Monday the 2nd of January I got up to go back to the office and face the world. I was already feeling anxious, like I always do after a vacation from anything – for some reason, it always feels like probably I’ve been fired while I was away and when I get there it will become really clear that I’m not supposed to be there and everything will be terrible. So, I was feeling anxious on this particular morning as I agonized over an outfit, picked something stupid, and got in my car.

I remember that the car definitely felt a little weird, but I was tired and have no common sense, so I kept driving. BUT THEN, suddenly, I was on the highway, and my car was no longer a functioning entity. Strangely, it felt like it had no wheels – like I was now driving a cardboard BOX, with CARDBOARD wheels. It was, essentially, a living nightmare.

So what I did was, I started to cry, because that is my instinct in any situation of nearly any kind. Somehow, I made it to the next exit and managed to pull into the parking lot of a Bertucci’s. There, through my panicked tears, I made the crucial discovery that both of my back tires … had been slashed. Not just cut a little, you guys: SLASHED AS FUCK. It truly looked like someone had gone to town on them with a machete.

So that was that. I cried and waited for Triple A and they came and replaced my tires and I went to work three hours late. And then I continued to live in that Allston apartment for another year, never knowing why someone had chosen to slash my tires. I didn’t really question it, honestly, as it just seemed sort of par for the course, my life-wise. But, to answer your questions, yes there were other cars in the driveway I had been parked in; no, none of them appeared to have slashed tires, and yes it did seem like a very personal attack but like, does someone hate me? I chose to think it was just god reminding me again that I’m not a “winner.”

Time for the second story, in which the PT Cruiser meets its demise.

First, the only picture I could find in which I’m driving the Cruiser. It’s fitting that I look hideous here – obviously, on this day I chose not to wear any makeup, and to wrap a weird thin scarf around my gross dirty-looking head. But there we are! Me and the car.

One Sunday afternoon in the fall of 2010, I was at my parent’s house, and my car was parked in the driveway. The whole family was just hangin out, but then my sister, who has hawk-like car-vision, looked out the window and noticed that my car’s right front headlight was cracked. “Jana, did you get in an accident?” she asked me. I was like, um NO, what the fuck! So we ran outside, all of us: me, my sister, my mom, and my dad. Sure enough, the damn thing was cracked! How could this have happened! I was racking my brain for some kind of collision that I’d potentially blacked out, my mom was saying things, my sister was saying things. It was so weird! This went on for about five minutes before my dad, who had been silent all this time, said simply:

“I did it.”

DADDDD. So yeah, it turned out that my dad had borrowed my car and rammed it into a pole in a parking garage, and then deliberately told no one because he thought he could get away with it. WHICH HE ALMOST DID. Because he KNEW that I would never, ever notice that my headlight was cracked, and he didn’t feel like dealing with it. Honestly, it was a brilliant move.

When I brought the car in to have the headlight replaced, I learned that the crack had let in a whole bunch of water, thus causing very expensive electrical damage throughout the car (or whatever, I have no idea about anything except that it cost a lot). This led me to purchase a brand new car (with the help of my sweet father), which I would later come to systematically destroy.

Catherine: Jana, you forgot about that time we were driving up to Burlington for New Year’s Eve and we hit some ice and did a 180 on the highway. You silly girl… and luckily there were no cars coming otherwise we would have died? And we slowwwwwly got the car going again and turned it around? This all was before we had a terrible time and made resolutions that we of course did not keep.

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Miniature Revenge

Jana: I had dinner with my parents on Sunday and my dad told me this short story:

I have an older sister – about a year and a half older, but when we were kids it felt like much, much more. There was a hierarchy that existed in all of our activities (one “game” I recall involved her giving me ten seconds to run downstairs and sharpen a pencil. She’d stand at the top of the stairs and be like: “You have TEN SECONDS. GO!” and I’d be like “AHHH” and run as fast as I could, fearing whatever it was that might happen if I didn’t complete the task in time), and this hierarchy was made even more evident when our playing involved other kids her age. Naturally, the girl who lived next door was also an older kid – a year older than my sister, thus making them a team of older kids – and the three of us hung out a lot.

I mostly remember really, really wanting to play with them, and often getting told to leave them alone. But, sometimes they needed me. I think they needed me for situations like the following:

– To retrieve balls that had been thrown deep into bushes

– To play the lower-status person in pretend games

– To be the monkey in monkey-in-the-middle (THIS IS HELL)

– To generally have someone to boss around

Still, I craved their attention, and gladly took on these roles again and again. But my dad recalls that one day, we had all been playing outside until, for some reason, I’d been banished back to our house. So, I was hanging out alone in the “play room,” probably re-reading “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” and blowing my nose. Suddenly, my sister and the neighbor burst into the house. “Jana! Come play with us!” they said. And – now this was a real moment for me – I think I finally knew what was up. They didn’t really want to PLAY with me, they just NEEDED me for some shit job. So I was like, “ok guys, be out in a minute!”, and waited until they’d gone back outside. Then I turned to my dad and said in a whispered tone: “…. I’m not going.”

Catherine: Jana, little Jana, speaking a secret in a whispered tone. This to me must be what heaven is like. I never had experiences like this growing up with my older brothers, I think maybe I was so awesome that they really did want to play with me? Or maybe no. Maybe this is what they were doing the whole time, all along, and this post is helping me to see the light… I choose to live in blissful ignorance.

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Adventures in Summer Misery

Jana: How’s everyone’s summer going? Good, yeah? Does everyone love summer?

That’s so great. Unfortunately, I really hate summer. Summer has always scared me because A) I’m anxious all the time, so the anxiety doubles when there’s no structure in my life and B) I’m not an adventurous, fun person, which becomes much more obvious to those around me during the summer. Any other time of year, it’s fine to suggest activities like going to the movies, reading next to each other at coffee shops, or staying inside to eat. But in the summer, people want to be outside! Every person in the facebook universe has spent the weekend at the beach! Everyone is tan and happy, while I am pale, scared, and sad. It’s a nightmare.

This is true now, but it was also true in my childhood. As a child, summer signified the coming of thunderstorms (definitely a sign from god that something terrible is about to happen, and yes I know most people find them cool and exciting), the end of sitting in class and feeling useful and interesting, and, of course, CAMPS. Ohhhh day camps. Ohhh you miserable organizations reeking of suntan lotion, spilled juice, and tears. Ohh god meeting new people. No no no no no. Please don’t make me go.

But, I did have to go. And sometimes I went to theater camps, which was ok. But one summer, for some reason that I CANNOT FATHOM, my parents signed me up for something called “Adventure Camp,” hosted by our town’s rec department. Why I agreed to this in the first place I really and truly cannot say. Why I did not start screaming at the mention of “adventure” makes absolutely no sense to me now. But, somehow, I was enrolled, and I attended. And it was hell.

I went with my best friend at the time, a similarly non-adventurous and awkward kid. Obviously, we were outcasts from the start. My main memory of this is arriving late, having almost forgotten my lunch or something, and desperately running across hot pavement in order to stand in line while attendance was called, all the while terrified that I’d forget my name or forget how to say “here” or that I’d just drop dead from all the pressure. Once I survived that, it was on to trust falls, in order to build up the group dynamic. This was, obviously, terrible. Nothing is worse than trust falls with a bunch of kids who definitely think you are very weird.

The two-week ordeal consisted of more trust falls, various physical drills, and then a full-on ropes course, including a zip line. I hated and feared every minute of it. But there was one redeeming factor: a sweet, cute, male counselor who took pity on me and joked around with me, making me feel like less of a total loser. One day, during lunch, this awesome counselor was getting everyone all riled up over some mind-game riddle thing he’d told us. It was one of those things where he was like, “I’m going on a trip, and I’m gonna bring a tree but not a forest,” and everyone had to be like, “well can you bring a monkey?” and he’d be like, “not a monkey but I will bring a carp,” and everyone was ¬†like “WHATTTT!” and he was like, figure it out. So, I could not figure it out, but I was having fun participating, which was rare. I got really into badgering him to tell me the secret answer, and he finally did on the condition that I promised not to tell anyone else. WE WERE BUDDIES. It was great.

After lunch, I told my one and only friend the secret riddle solution. And then, she must have told someone else! I don’t know what happened! All I know is that my buddy friend counselor cornered me later and was like, jokingly, “I thought I could trust you, kid!” And I thought: Oh My God, my life is over. I was mortified, and tried desperately to explain that I had really, really, really meant to keep the secret. In my desperation I believe that I almost cried, or potentially that I did actually cry.

Looking back, I can see that this counselor obviously did not give a fuck about this situation. But at the time, it felt very monumentally disappointing and upsetting and embarrassing.

Somehow, the weeks continued. I zip-lined and ropes-coursed and hated it, went to sleep in fear, and then woke up and did it again, until the damn camp was over. I don’t remember how I left things with counselor friend buddy, but I can assume that our relationship was very compromised by my severe overreaction to the weird game thing.

So there you have it. I do not like summer, or adventure, and I cry at inappropriate times. If anyone wants to do something fun, it would be best not to call.

Catherine: Poor, poor Jana. Jana, who hates the beach, but who cannot deny that she actually has fun while she is there as long as she is huddled beneath an umbrella with a beer and a book, and an equally pale me by her side.

SEE HOW HAPPY YOU WERE??!

SEE HOW HAPPY YOU WERE??!

Summer has been hard for you for awhile, it seems? Tragic. I can see that this particular camp played perfectly to your weaknesses and probably caused damage that we continue to see the effects of. I wish I could go back in time to your scared Janaself and tell you to CHILL OUT, but I imagine your Janaself  would just blink in confusion and try to give me a bobby pin.

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