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Monday, February 27, 2012

Internal Buttress

photo: thereifixedit.com
       I love that I have a sense of humor most of the time. My friends are some of the most awesomely-witty folks that I know too:-) I like to think of humor as a flexible, internal buttress. It can simultaneously shore us up and stretch to accommodate direct hits and curve-balls, effectively lessening the blow. I love that life is so full of opportunities to practice and hone our mad humor-skills. Most of the time.

   So I'm going to try to look at my current situation from an objective and humorous place. It's like cheating if I only laugh when things are easy right? It's in the ability to find humor in potentially personally tragic situations where we really cut our teeth and develop. For starters, I would like to point out that what I consider 'personally tragic' may be construed  as nothing more than 'white girl problems' by some. For that, I should be grateful. Even so, I am seriously freaking out.

   I drive an eighteen year old car. That alone is pretty funny. It's like a game I play with myself: How many miles can this car go? (so far it's about 234,000. Not bad, eh?) I've had it most of it's eighteen years, and have come to take it somewhat for granted. It's a Toyota Corolla wagon. My daughter thinks it's the dorkiest car on the road, what with it not just being old and a wagon, but also beige. I say it's 'champagne', but whatever. The car's name is "Goldie" (all good cars should have a name) and she has been reliable to an almost unheard of degree. The last couple of years or so though, I've been getting this pinched feeling in my gut right around inspection time. It is like some cruel twist of fate:  Vermont is not just really tough on cars, but also requires them to pass a yearly inspection. NOT nice. Failure to sport the appropriate sticker number and color in your windshield means hefty fines. Here is where I get the most tangled up in the process: I lack resources, so my car needs repairs that I can't afford. Ergo, it doesn't pass inspection, then I get a fine rendering me even LESS able to fix the car, etc. Round and round she goes. Oh, and I do need a car. In this whole equation, it is probably the only certainty.

   Last year the process finally came to a good (and legal!) end after a circus-like series of events involving friends, quite a bit more money than I could afford to spend, a few random and oddly-specific auto parts, and a can of spray-foam insulation. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say it was touch-and-go-there for awhile, and it wasn't pretty. I mean literally, not pretty. But LEGAL. If I could put all kinds of smileys, moons, rainbows and stars around that elusive and ephemeral word, I would do it. For an old car in Vermont, LEGAL is where it's at; the Holy Grail, if you will. 'LEGAL' means at least another year of service.

   This year I sent Goldie off for inspection, confident that all of the craziness of last year would carry her through at least a year or two. I even wrote it on my calendar like it was no big deal; nothing more than another easy appointment: INSPECT CAR. Two solid, imperative words implying that it would be a straight-forward exercise in doing my civic duty as a car-owning person in Vermont. *Sigh*.

   Why do I always think 'easy' is possible? Is it some strange need to cling to a Universal idea of fairness? Or (if I want to get even more melodramatic) is it an unwavering faith in the notion that we wont be faced with problems beyond our coping abilities? I've notice, being a person of limited resources, how frequently problems seem to hit me in the wallet. There are worse places to be hit (and I know this because I've been hit there a few times too), but can't the Universe see clearly from it's omniscient perch that there is just a smoking scorch-mark where my wallet used to be? You can't get blood from stone, and you can't get money from a smoking scorch mark. It's like some immutable law, or something.

   Anyway, Goldie is very close to looking like the car pictured above, I think. I don't know the details, I just know that the description of her tragic state involved words like 'unibody frame' and 'strut assembly', and something about it being really dangerous if I hit a pot hole. Unfortunately, pot holes are another 'thing' that's popular in Vermont. Yeah, baby; I hit the trifecta! Needless to say, unless I come up with some cash, I'm in deep doodoo. And I have like, two days.

I guess sometimes life's just funny like that:-)

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