19 January 2014


When I lived in Universe City, it seemed like the sun was always shining when I went to Gone West and the clouds descended again as I returned to Universe City. 

I don't know if this is actually true - Universe City does get substantially more rain than Gone West - but it felt true, and it was true today. As I drove on the highway toward Universe City, the pleasant warmth of the sun disappeared into fog, and I had to turn the fan in the car from cold to medium and then warm. 

I was running a little late for my own goodbye party (let's face it: when am I not running a little bit late?) when I heard a loud noise that sounded like something hit the passenger side of my car. Weird. 

The car drove just fine, so I continued on a little ways, as the car began driving less and less fine. 

Back tire, passenger side. 


  1. 2010 - Front passenger side tire: faulty valve. Multiple flats.
  2. 2011 - Rear driver side tire: weird hernia thing; replaced.
  3. 2013 - Rear driver side tire: intentional puncture while parked in front of my house; all four tires replaced.
  4. 2014 - Rear passenger side tire: blow out on the highway.

I don't get it. I drive a little tiny car with little tiny tires. How do they keep failing me like this? Is it normal to have so many tire issues in barely three years of owning a car? It's not the alignment. This little car drives straight indefinitely when I take my hands off the wheel, unless there is a cross wind.

I parked well off the freeway and called roadside assistance. I got a card in the mail once that I was supposed to keep in my wallet (I did not) saying that I had roadside assistance, and I happened to see it yesterday as I was cleaning out my office (end cleaning time: 1 am).

Only it would take them up to an hour to get there, and I realized that the tire place that replaces their tires for free if something goes wrong might be closed on Sunday anyway (it was). I am not going to buy a new tire from some other place if I can get this one for free.

I could have gone forward to Universe City, but once the tire was replaced, either by me or by roadside assistance, it would take a very long time on back roads, driving under 50 mph. I would completely miss my party, and I worried about the donut tire making it so far. The distance back to Gone West was shorter.

I can change a tire, but it was freezing out there. I was dressed for warm, sunny Gone West, not foggy, blustery in-between land. 

I had to take everything out of my trunk in order to get at the spare.

My hands were freezing.

The only good news in this picture is that I keep a waterproof stadium blanket in my trunk. I put it on the damp ground next to the car and went to work.

I was in the process of tightening the bolts on the spare when someone stopped to help.

I don't mean to be critical of big-city majority culture (OR MAYBE I DO), but it's worth noting that the very nice guy who stopped to help me, after many, many cars just drove by, was Latino and spoke with an accent. Kindness is still alive somewhere in the world, just possibly not here.

The nearest exit was only a mile or so off, so I took that one and stopped at the bucks of star to try to warm up.

It took more than twice as long to drive back on a winding country road along the river, but it was far prettier. I've missed that road entirely, even though it runs all the way down to Universe City, because it is so much slower than the freeway.

I'm glad I got to drive it today.

Now I'm home, in the warmth, taking this extra time to pack. I probably need the extra time, too.

05 January 2014

so it goes

I was nice to myself this time: I scheduled my flights for two days before I had to go back to work. Plenty of time to get home, get some milk, relax, pack a little, and get some hours of work in on Sunday. 

Oh, the best-laid plans. 

We got to the airport ahead of the weather problems - we saw one rollover crash on the highway, but the vehicle occupants were walking away from it. 

By the time my flight to The Windy City was three hours delayed, I knew I wouldn't make it to Gone West. The last flight of the day out of TWC had already been cancelled, and I'd missed the earlier one.

"My advice is just to get to TWC," the agent said. "They'll prioritize the bigger flights out of a hub over the littler ones from places like this."

He didn't seem the most competent, though, and I wanted to fly out of the Mitten to avoid having my parents drive me so far, so I spent the entire drive home on hold with United. 

They never answered. 

Neither did they answer after I bought a train ticket to TWC, only to get an email that my flight was cancelled. 

Nor did they answer after I cancelled the train ticket and got an email rebooking me from TWC to Gone West... On Wednesday. At a time that was too early to take the train. 

No one here has six hours to drive me to TWC on Wednesday, and taking the train and then trying to figure out staying somewhere and then getting to the airport in the morning was not happening.

I finally hung up the phone at 3 am. At 9 am, I half-woke up, dialed again, and dozed next to my phone as it continued the horrible five note repeat that is United's hold music. 

I listened to 17 hours of that hold music between last night and tonight, and it's still ringing in my head. 

And I'm still flying out of Chicago on Wednesday. Later on Wednesday, yes, but still on Wednesday. 

Which cuts my finish work, pack, move time in State of Happiness to two weeks.

I'm just trying to ignore the rising feeling of panic and enjoy hours of catching up on Downton Abbey  with breaks to shovel the five inches of snow that accumulated between my dad shoveling the driveway in the morning and us ladies getting out there at 4 pm. 

01 January 2014

made it

So that might have been a tad melodramatic. I mean, I went to law school, ended up with debt that I could never expect to pay back on my own, ever, at the salaries I've been making doing my save-the-world law jobs, and took the bar exam right as the economy tanked, so clearly that trumps any mere location mistake I could ever make. (PSA: DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL.)

I shoveled the driveway last night, and that put a lot of things into perspective. 

Then I rang in the new year sitting on my parents' couch, because I was supposed to pick my sister up at the airport at 7 something and then 10 something and then her flight got cancelled and there was nothing to do but text a good friend in Universe City. (My sister began the new year not sleeping on a cot in O'Hare airport. It makes me crazy when people say, "It could be worse!" as if that is any consolation when a person is feeling genuine human emotion like loneliness or heartbreak, and mostly I want to do violence upon the person of anyone who flippantly says such things, but there is a time and a place for it, and that is when you are in a warm house getting ready to go to bed in a bed that now contains the right kind of pillow, thanks to a trip to ike@, and the other person is trying to sleep on a cot in an airport. It could be worse.)

A. finally made it to Greater River City this morning, and my dad picked her up in time for the family Christmas party, so we ate and celebrated all afternoon. I got everything I wanted: a green and blue plaid shirt and a cozy cowl and some awesome mittens being the major high points. And I was delighted to have picked the hit of the day for four and five year olds: Magformers.

We went for a walk, all of us underdressed for 12 degree F weather, and when we finally, miserably, got back the kids had bright red cheeks and upon inspection, all potentially frost-bitten parts were red, not white. We made it.