The Little Focus That Could

I’ve put a lot of miles on my little baby Buttercup this week. (Buttercup being, for the uninformed, my car. She is very, very yellow.)

I had kind of forgotten what my hair looked like in a shade of brown. Whoa.

Being the Northern Virginia-dwelling suburbanite that I am, it’s pretty safe to assume that I do a lot of driving. And while that may be true to a certain extent — I certainly find myself visiting all corners of this region more often in my current role with Yelp than I ever did previously — I actually don’t drive that much. Since I don’t have a regular commute anymore, I’m not putting a steady stream of miles on my car — it’s only when I have a meeting or drive out to an event or have a desperate, searing craving for Korean BBQ that I take my baby out. In fact, due to the endless supply of schnauzers at my house and the fact that you can buy gummy bears in 5 pound bags on Amazon, there are usually quite a few days a week when I don’t have to leave the house at all. (I prefer not to think of that as being sad and pathetic, by the way.)

My little Ford Focus, purchased new in August 2012, only has about 16,000 miles on it. I’m no expert on car mileage, but I hear that’s fairly low.

This week in particular, however, I have been racking up the miles. And the frustration. Because lately it seems that any time I have to drive anywhere, I have the joyous benefit of sitting in lots and lots and lots of traffic. Between last night’s taillight-laden trip to National Harbor to see Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna (such a fun show — you should absolutely go if you’re in the area!) and the weekend’s horrific trip to New Kent for my college roommate and super preggo bestie Bethany’s baby shower, I’ve definitely been making up for the aforementioned lack of mileage.

Speaking of Bethany’s baby shower, fun story. So, Sean and I are headed down to New Kent, VA for Bethany’s coed baby shower (with Sean giving me grief about how coed baby showers aren’t a thing the entire time, but I digress), and New Kent  is about 20-ish minutes or so outside of Richmond. So, figuring that it usually takes about 2 hours to get to Richmond, we leave at around 10 AM to get there.

We arrive at 2:30 PM.

Yep, it took us FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to go 120 miles. I-95 traffic is no joke, folks, especially on a weekend, especially in the summer. Although, it does make me wonder WHERE all these other people who are stuck in equally bad traffic are really going. I mean, even if they’re taking a day or two off from work, are they really taking 6 – 8 hours to get to the beach, only to have to turn around and come right back in one or two days? #notworthit

Anyway, by the time we finally got to Bethany’s sister’s house, the shower was pretty much over. Womp womp. Which really worked out for Sean, since he got to avoid all of the baby games, and admittedly it kind of worked out for me, too, because I basically just got to hang out with Bethany, her hubster, and her sisters for a couple hours on my own.

Perhaps that was really my plan all long! Bwahaha. No, I kid, I kid, I’m really bummed that I missed out on the whole shebang. At least I still got to decorate a onesie! I really should have taken a picture of it, it was a masterpiece. (Reality: it was not a masterpiece. It said, “Will Cry for Milk” and then “I love boobs.”)

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It did seem like a shame to have to turn around and head back on the highway after only a couple hours of visiting, but all was not lost. On our way back, which AMAZINGLY took less than three hours in total, we stopped in Fredericksburg and I got to experience a kickin’ restaurant there called Foode, AND we got Carl’s Ice Cream after that – STRAWBERRYYYYY! Carl’s is evidently a Fredericksburg institution. It reminded me of Kline’s in Harrisonburg, and it was delicious.

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So at least my car ride from hell ended on a sweet note. Unfortunately, the driving isn’t over yet, as today I’m headed out to Annapolis! Luckily, it’s for a great reason — lunch with the bestest best coworkers ever! And at least I’ve got my DC counterpart Kimberly ridin’ shotgun and keeping me company. We miiiiight be going to the beach afterwards. Just sayin’.

At least this time I’ve learned my lesson and am giving us ample time to get there. Since I’m sure that even at noon on a Thursday, there will undoubtedly be traffic. Wish us (and Buttercup) luck, and see you on the flip!

Catastrophe Week

I mentioned that yesterday was the crappiest of all crappy days but neglected to share any of the details, and I imagine some of you may have wondered why. Well, here we go. I was originally planning on naming this post “Catastrophe Monday”, but you will soon see why that is no longer applicable. This week may actually kill me. Yep, pretty sure.

God, where do I even begin? I guess… chronologically?

So. Monday morning. Yesterday. I wake up to find this situation in the upstairs landing outside my bedroom:

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Yep. The upstairs bathroom flooded because the tank on the back of the toilet broke into a zillion sharp, pointy pieces.

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Now, this was plenty bad enough to wake up to on a Monday morning, granted. I know from the experience that we had with our basement flooding that drying out carpet is no easy feat. But oh, it was already so much worse than I knew.

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Yep, the water had already leaked right through the floor and straight down into the kitchen.

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“Luckily” (I use the term loosely), the water had not seeped through any of the kitchen tile and into the basement (where all of my brother‘s expensive camera and recording equipment is). Still.

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Not really being sure what else to do, we “popped” the big bubble of water that was hanging down, and poked a few more holes in our now absolutely ruined kitchen ceiling to help the water drain out.

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Then, we set up as many fans as we could (uh, two) and I had to go to work since I was already way late (and lest we forget, I was already out of commission for two days last week due to being sick).

Then, what should happen while on my way to work at 10 AM?

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Yep. That’s right. My brand new car, not even ONE MONTH OLD yet, was hit.

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Because one catastrophe for the morning definitely wasn’t enough.

The chick who hit me was very apologetic, and admitted right away that it was all her fault (it was) and said that she would assume all liability for it. Still, knowing that it wasn’t my fault doesn’t actually help as much as you’d think when we’re talking about the car that you’ve owned for exactly 29 days. The damage extends from the back of the front wheel bed on the passenger side, down the front passenger door (which is now misaligned in addition to being scratched and dented), all the way through the rear passenger door. Needless to say, I was kind of a mess at this point (note to self: reinvest in waterproof mascara).

So then I got to spend the rest of my day on the phone with not one, but two different insurance companies, for two different insurance claims. (Actually, technically it was three, because I also opened up a preliminary claim with my own auto insurance company just in case anything went wrong with the other driver’s insurance company. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to need to move forward.)

So, going back to the house issue, the water damage in the house is covered (after our deductible, which is unfortunately quite high). Because the damage was so extensive, I decided to move forward with letting the insurance company send out a water mitigation team to come out and dry out the problem areas. So I had to leave work early to meet them at home, and then they proceeded to check everything out and then set things up to air out and dry. Meaning this happened:

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And this:

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And there are about 20 gazillion industrial fans and dehumidifiers making VERY LOUD NOISES in the upstairs landing and the kitchen now, too.

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We have to keep them running until Thursday, at which point the guys will come back to remove them, check that everything is dry and that there is no mold (my biggest concern is mold), and then the insurance people can come out after that point to assess the repair work needed. So, it’s still going to be a long process to get everything fixed, but at least things are moving now. Of course, the effect of all this OMG!CHANGE is not having a very good effect on the little ones either…

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Daxter is petrified to go through the kitchen or upstairs landing now, even to go outside or eat. The fans make a lot of noise and emit a lot of heat, so I have to carry him pretty much everywhere.

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Poor, anxiety-stricken puppy.

Now. With both house issues AND car issues on the table, I was REALLY looking forward to today. Today is not yesterday, after all. Today should be better, right? Well, let’s talk about today, shall we?

Back to the car issue. The other driver’s insurance company contacted me yesterday and said they were sending out an inspector to assess the damage to my car. He arrived this morning, and was very nice, but it was still quite jarring to hear about all of the things that were wrong with my car. He gave me his estimate for how much the repair work is going to cost, and now I just have to wait for the insurance adjuster to get in touch with me and confirm that they are going to accept liability and let me know when I can go get my car repaired. Because of the misaligned front passenger door, the rubber seal at the top is broken and the inspector is worried about moisture being able to get into my car. So he put a ‘rush’ on it and hopefully I’ll be hearing from the adjuster very soon.

Sounds like that should (eventually) wrap things up all nice and tidy, right?

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE.

Guess what happened to me on my way to work (already late again, because of the inspection) THIS morning. Guess. Just guess.

No seriously, you have to guess.

Give up?

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Yes. I got rear-ended on 395. My beautiful baby of a car got hit by a SECOND person, for the SECOND time in the SECOND DAY IN A ROW. It happened, I pulled over, and I literally screamed into the silence of my car: “ARE YOU F&$#[email protected]*% KIDDING ME?!!?!”

“Luckily”, because of the horrible, horrible traffic, we were going like 5 MPH, and the only visible damage that I can see (so far) is two nice little round dents from the screws on his license plate. UNluckily, my neck and shoulder are noticeably sore now, which really, really sucks. I’ve already put in a claim with his insurance company and gotten the ball rolling there, and I guess I need to go get my potential injuries examined by a doctor on my own.

Now, before I end this story of horrific proportions, let me just say this. I’m sure there are a lot of people who will want to sanctimoniously remind me that today is 9/11 and that my troubles are nothing in comparison to what happened 11 years ago. Of course that’s true. I would never presume to suggest otherwise. But that’s also kind of like comparing apples to an entire burning orchard of orange trees. Obviously one (or in this case, three) apples, no matter how mealy, wormy, or awful they may be, will never compare. We remember the loss and devastation of 9/11 with a freshness that makes it feel like it happened much more recently than over a decade ago, and that will probably never change.

But that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t blow to be the person who bites into that apple.

I think I’ll go hide under the covers of my bed until this week is over now. Kthxbai.

Hello Buttercup

Hi-dee-ho, friends. So, remember how on Friday I said that I was really feeling the color yellow lately? Well, I wasn’t kidding.

Say hello to my brand-spankin’-new, beautiful 2012 Ford Focus. She has been loooooooong overdue (in case you don’t remember, feel free to revisit my former car troubles here). Her name is Buttercup.

Somewhat ironically, I ended up purchasing a car that wasn’t even on my “list” of contenders to begin with. I actually was kind of all over the place when it came to test-driving cars, which is why it ended up being a rather lengthy process. When I first started thinking about getting a new car (when my car had it’s first breakdown on my birthday back in April, haha), I thought I’d be getting a tiny little subcompact like a Yaris or the Scion xD. I test drove the xD and, while I liked it for the most part, it really is a TINY little thing. And, as we all know, I am not so tiny.

Then later I was convinced that I would be driving home with a weird and quirky box car like the Kia Soul or the Nissan Cube. I test-drove both of these, and though I still do like the aesthetic (hey, I’m a bit of a weirdo, what can I say?), the engines just really weren’t powerful enough to make either of them particularly fun to drive. I need a little more torque coming out of a stop, and the Cube in particular struggled on hills (and Northern Virginia is actually surprisingly hilly).

My third round of wishful thinking involved what I believe are being referred to as “compact SUVs” (or crossovers). Since I was driving my mom’s Chevy Equinox for a while due to my own sad car troubles, I was getting really into the idea of driving a big car. So I also test drove both the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue. I really liked the Rogue (not so much the RAV4), but in the end, it really was just unnecessary space for me. Plus, the price point was much, much higher on those (obviously), and after all of the frustration involved with my own car I really wasn’t considering buying used anymore. (Don’t get me wrong, I know that used cars are of better value, and there are plenty of used cars that will work just as well and problem-free as a new one. It’s just that, with all of my recent experiences, I really didn’t want to have to deal with the hassle.)

So how did I end up with the Ford Focus? Well, near my house is a Nissan dealership right next to a Ford dealership (both owned by the same company), and my brother Ben thought I might like the Ford Fiesta (a subcompact in the same class as the xD). However, given my feelings about size, I decided to test out the Focus instead. I drove a manual one and I REALLY liked it. It reminded me a lot of the Mazda3, which my sister used to have and I had really enjoyed driving but was out of my price range. The 2012 body redesign looks really slick, too. Even though I ended up test-driving a ton of different cars that day (and several the day before), the Focus was definitely my favorite.

So when I found one in one of the colors I liked at the Ted Britt Ford in Fairfax (where an old friend of mine from middle school also happens to work — if you’re looking for a Ford, go there and ask for Alex!), I knew I had to go check it out! It also happened to be listed at an almost too-good-to-be-true price (which did, of course, end up being too good to be true, haha). In the end though, I feel confident that I got a really good deal considering how many bells and whistles are on this thing.

It is stocked with the MyFord Touch system that connects it to my phone, has voice activated everything, and is generally just really sweet. I did end up purchasing an automatic, but one of the things I like about it is that even the automatic still drives like a manual. (Some reviews point this out as a negative thing, but I think they’re just from people who are not familiar with how it feels to drive a manual.) There’s also a manual mode that you can put the car into, which helps amp up the whole torque/fast acceleration thing that I like.

This car has almost all the frilly technology stuff I like (only things it’s really missing are navigation and parking assist/rearview camera, but it’s not like I NEED those things, it just would have been cool), plus it’s fun to drive. Plus it has great fuel efficiency — I was getting 42 mpg on the highway at one point! Plus it’s an awesome color — it’s called “Yellow Blaze”, and it has that kind of shimmery, sparkly finish to it. The color reads as bright yellow to orange-ish yellow depending on what light it’s in.

Plus, even though it’s still a small car, it definitely feels spacious in the front. And there’s still plenty of room for schnauzers.

Car buying was definitely an experience, I will say. I did a lot of research on the buying and negotiating process but still wasn’t prepared for how long and exhausting the process would be. I was at the dealership for FOUR hours! I may or may not have cried at one point. Just saying.

I had intended to do a nice, full-scale car photoshoot with the good camera, but I guess I just got too carried away actually, you know, driving this thing.

Anyway, buying my first “real” car is a very exciting (and somewhat terrifying) step into adulthood, and I can’t wait to celebrate it (once I get over being terrified that someone is going to hit me, ding me, dent me, or otherwise ruin my life, that is). Happy Monday!