In which I get engaged

Ok, proposal story. I love hearing other people’s, so maybe you’ll love hearing mine.

I had a bad day at work. Shitty day. People were idiots and not tipping (and I was grumpy from staying up too late the night before. I called Aaron as I left work, letting him know I was on my way home but I had to stop at the bank and the liquor store (see: crappy day). He said that he and Luna were hanging out in the backyard, making a campfire, shooting some arrows. “WTF are you doing outside?!” I said. “It’s frickin freezing!” But I told him I would change out of my work clothes and join him.

When I got home, I decided to go say hi first, then change. I headed down the hill, to be greeted by an excited Luna dog. And an even more excited Aaron, waiting for me with open arms (literally). We hung out for a few minutes, but I complained of being cold because it was 20 degrees and windy. He pulled me closer to the campfire and asked if I was warm now, could I stay for a minute? I agreed. which sent Aaron into a soliloquy about how he loves that I am the kind of girl that will hang out in the backyard with a fire even though I’m cold and cranky from work, and he loves me so much “and that’s why I’m asking you to be my wife.”

Me: “what?” ūüėģ

him: “will you marry me?” (produces ring)

Me: “Are you kidding me!?”

*much crying on both parts* At some point I managed to say something in the affirmative. I only remember saying ok, but he says I said a whole myriad of yesses.

We did more crying and kissing and hugging, things that newly engaged couples do. We made some calls, sent some texts, and told the Facebooks. Then we went out to dinner at Village Wayside Grill, which is now very close to our house, but more importantly, it’s where we had our first date (14 months ago). There, a drunk couple at the bar started chatting us up, and asked us if we were having a good Valentine’s Day. (Which is tomorrow, and has nothing to do with the timing of the story, but moving on) and I got to tell random strangers that we just got engaged. Yeah, I’m going to be that girl tonight, so what. Then another couple overheard us, and they wanted to know all the details, see the ring, etc. I admit, it was fun to show off.

THE ONE RING: Aaron (with permission) went through his mother’s jewelry box to find a special ring. He selected a delicate white gold band / sapphire and diamond stone that his father (since passed away) had given to his mom. With my line of work (hairdressing), he wanted a mount for the stone that would not catch hair or get dinged easily. Also, the stone that was in there was pretty and dark blue, but not sparkly. Aaron found a local jeweler (Van Dyke Jewelry) to cut off the old mount & stone and replace it with those of his choosing. The original mount was melted down and added to the band of the ring. (It does need to be resized, but that happens.) The stone he chose was an oval sapphire in very light blue. It’s very sparkly, and appears to change color in certain lights. Also he pointed out that sapphire is almost as hard as diamond, so me working with my hands should have no affect.

Anyhoo…. he liked it so he put a ring on it.

 

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In which I get a new medicine

Like many women, I take some sort of medicine for birth control. And no, before you run away, this post will not be focusing on that. Not that it’s any of your business, but I take this particular type of medicine so that I don’t get deathly ill for several days each month. The “no babies” thing is just a nice bonus.
Anyhoo, for years I was on the depo-provera shot. This only requires visiting a nurse practitioner once every 3 months and getting an injection in the top of your glut muscle. This is preferable to the pill, which you have to remember to take at the same time every day. I tried that in the past, but with my irregular work schedule, it was a challenge (even if I set an alarm on my phone). The only problem with the shot was that I gained weight that I just could not lose. I eat pretty healthily, I go to the gym usually 4 times a week, and I hike in the woods and walk around town often. But even after months of this routine, I still had a muffin top that I just couldn’t get rid of. So I looked into the Nexplanon implant.

I’m writing this blog today because though I had heard of the implant, I didn’t know anyone who had been on it, and neither did any of the people I talked to. So I think it’s not a very common form of birth control.

This is a tiny plastic rod that is surgically implanted in the inside of your upper arm, and gives you 3 years’ worth of medicine. THREE YEARS. Not only can I completely forget about it, but I don’t have to pay for it ever again. I did a lot of research, and a consultation with the doctor at Planned Parenthood (because they are awesome and I love them) and decided this was the right way to go. I asked of course if you could see the implant, and they said no. I asked if I could get tattooed in that spot, and I was the first person to ever ask that, so they would have to get back to me. I waited the set amount of time after the consultation, and was still ready to go for it. They told me to take the day off from work, especially since in my work I use my arms more than anything else.

When I got there, they asked if I had any questions. I asked again about the tattoo, and was told that it should be fine, but I should use my own judgement according to how light- or heavy- handed my artist is. I have many blank spots on my skin, so even if I have to wait 3 years to get a tattoo in that one particular spot, it’s not a deal breaker.

I knew that it was a minor surgical procedure I was about to get done, but I didn’t realize how involved it was still going to be. I had to sign all sorts of forms, and the doctor was very strict on the sterilization of everything. They actually had to start the prep again at one point because the assistant handed something to the doctor that she wasn’t supposed to touch. Everyone was wearing gloves and the surfaces were covered in sterile towels, but the doctor was adamant. I don’t mind that, because the less chance of grisly infection, the better. In fact, most of the side effects that I had to acknowledge as possibilities were from the procedure (infection) and not from the actual medicine.

I did not watch them once they actually began the procedure, because I do not do well with things like that. But I could feel it. They first gave me a shot of local anesthetic, which in itself hurt and burned a little bit. Then they literally sliced my arm open and inserted a matchstick -sized piece of plastic. A coupla stitches were made, and various sterile bandages were applied. I was given instructions that the outer bandage (a stretchy plasticy cloth type thing that wrapped around my entire arm) was to stay on for 24 hours, and the butterfly shaped steri-strips were to stay in place for three days. Regular bandaids could be used to cover it for as long as I felt necessary. I was also told to take it easy for a few days, as my arm was definitely going to hurt. Showering was fine, but no swimming or submerging my open wound in water. More instructions on what to watch for, and when to call them back if one of those side effects did happen, and then they sent me on my merry way.

My arm did hurt that day and the next, very much. More than a fresh tattoo. There was a constant ache, and I could not wait to get the outer bandage off, because it was VERY tight. Once the outer bandage was off, however, I wished it was back on. Like a fresh tattoo, you never notice how often you hit your body on other things. You wouldn’t think the inside of your upper arm would make a lot of contact with the outside world, but wait until it swells up and is extremely tender. Even brushing the sore spot against my own boob caused me to yelp out in pain. But you know what, it healed normally and the pain stopped completely within a week. I was still nervous about going to the gym, but I think part of that was psychological, since I was aware of the implant near my muscle and was so sure I could feel it straining.

As of this writing, it’s been exactly a month since I got that procedure done. There is no pain at all anymore. There is a small round scar from the implant site, but it’s not actually noticeable to most people. I can feel the implant itself if I touch my arm, which I have mixed emotions about. As for tattooing, I think I’ll go ahead and wait until it’s out to get any ink in that spot. If I change my mind, however, the implant can be removed at any time. I just have to go through a similar (minor) procedure.

Here are the pictures. I didn’t take any until now because frankly, it was gross. I didn’t want to look at it, nor subject any of you to it. Also, it’s really hard to take a picture of yourself in this manner. Go on, try it.

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The first picture shows the placement of the site on my arm. If you look closely, you can see the spot just above my finger. The actual rod that you can feel extends towards my armpit from there a few centimeters, maybe an inch. The second picture is a close up of the scar, and also goosebumps because I was cold. I think it looks redder in the picture than it does in real life. Nobody has ever asked me about it – one because it’s in an odd spot that most people don’t usually look at or see, and two because that’s a weird thing to ask someone.

As for the cost. I am glad I have insurance. (Thanks Obama!) According to my insurance’s website, they were billed $1309. Because this is something that insurance covers (probably partly due to the fact that I’ve tried other medicines), I was told I owe $8.09. That’s right, EIGHT DOLLARS. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s a pretty damn good deal on my end. I can easily spend more than that on lunch, and I don’t have to pay anything more for three years. That’s totally worth it, besides the fact that if I didn’t have it I would be missing out on several days’ income each month, and/or all the costs that are associated with pregnancy and raising a tiny human. So yeah, I’ll pay the $8. If I didn’t have insurance, that would be another story. I certainly couldn’t afford $1300 up front, but maybe if they let me do payments…. Anyway, I’m glad I don’t have to even think about the what ifs.

How do I feel? Well, I mentioned that after the first few days, there is no pain. I haven’t noticed any hormonal side effects either. I am positive that it is because I have already been on this medicine for years, just at a different dose. If I went to the implant straight from the pill (or nothing), there would probably be more for me to write here. But thank goodness on that. I still notice the scar, but if I wear long enough sleeves, even that is not an issue.

I hope this has been helpful and informative. I am not a doctor of course, so if you are considering getting this medicine, definitely talk to someone who is. I can answer any questions you have, based on only my experience. But I think that since my experience has been a good one, this blog is a good blanket to start with in your research.

In which I deal with the insurance

Since I last updated, a lot has happened. I’ve gotten more work on my tattoo (more on that in a different post), and I’ve gotten results on the car accident I was in. Turns out the mini was totaled – 83% damage costing over $10,000. ¬†Initially, they offered me a fair reimbursement. Enough to pay off the remaining lien and have a little something extra for a down payment on something else. I felt bad that my poor little mini was going to be scrapped, so I asked the owner at the auto shop if he could fix the car and resell it. He could, and he offered me $1500 for it. I just had to tell the insurance company I was “keeping” the car . When I told my adjuster that, she looked at the numbers and said that I would be getting even more money if I did it that way. A great deal more. Even she was surprised (which, looking back, should have been a red flag). I said do it, and my heart was elated.

After the money from the insurance, and then selling it to the shop, I was supposed to have about $7000 in my pocket. Sure, I could buy a decent used car and not have to worry about payments for a while, or, I could buy something shiny and new that I wouldn’t have to worry about at all. I’m the type to keep my cars for a very long time, so I opted for the new and went car shopping. I had done a lot of research in preparation for this scenario, and decided on a Mazda3. I “built” my own on the Mazda website (it was pretty basic – I don’t need a lot of that fancy <read: expensive> crap) and searched local inventory. There is one Mazda dealership in the area, and they had my car in stock! I sent an inquiry, and it turns out that not only was it in the color I liked, but it was the only manual transmission on the lot. (Manual transmission is my #1 requirement. Color is nice, but not a dealbreaker.) Apparently people today don’t really like to¬†drive their cars, so stick shifts are not very popular. I had a day off, so I headed down to the lot.

I wandered the very large car lot for a while, knowing what I was looking for. As soon as I saw it – I knew. It was such a pretty car, and just the right size. I already knew all the specs, and I had driven one years ago, but I needed to seal the deal. No salespeople were in sight, so I took some pictures.
color lot

The first is a close up of the paint. It’s among the sparkliest things I’ve ever seen, so¬†of course had to have it. The second is obviously a wider view, though somewhat obstructed by the other cars for sale.

I started walking towards the office, but they must have seen me taking pictures because there was a salesman on the way. I explained my situation – I wanted that car but was waiting on the insurance check for my down payment – and asked if there was something we could do. He agreed, and he got the keys for a test drive. As I mentioned, this is a manual transmission. The car I’ve been borrowing in the interim is automatic, so it took me a minute to remember to use both feet while driving. Once I remembered how to do something I’ve been doing for 16 years, we were on our way. The car was a dream to drive – just enough pickup that passing cars on the freeway was no problem. I drove it like I drove the mini, which is to say, like a race car. The salesman even commented on what a good driver I was, especially using the clutch.

We got back to the lot and headed out of the 90-degree sun into the air conditioned office. We ran all the paperwork, and surprisingly, I didn’t need to provide any proof of income or residency. The logic was that since I had an existing car loan only a year and a half old (through a bank that is apparently hard to get approval through), I was still good. In fact, I was in better shape since it was an extra 18 months or so at the same job and same residence. But again, I didn’t have to prove anything. I could have, of course, but I didn’t have any paperwork with me.

Eventually I got to talk to the finance lady, and that’s where we added all the extras. I went with the full extended warranty, as well as oil changes, tire rotation, and dent/ding repair. I was very clear about what was and was not covered under the warranties, and decided it was worth the money, especially since I was the first owner of this car. And because I had such a nice down payment (40% of the total) – or so I thought – the payments were only minimally above what I had been paying on the mini. I literally signed all the paperwork and was now just waiting for the insurance money so I could immediately hand it off to the dealership and get my keys.

A week passed, and I had heard nothing from the insurance. I had called and emailed several times, but with no response. At one point, the dealership even called me to “remind me” that I had a shiny new car waiting for me. Did I forget about them? I told them I would keep trying the insurance. Finally I did get an email response – she claimed she had sent me the paperwork and was just waiting on me. I double checked my emails, but I had not received anything. Later that day, I received the exact same email saying she was waiting on me. I know it was the exact same email because she had copied and pasted something with a typo in it, and it was still there. I again told her I had not received anything at all.

Suddenly she realized why I had not received anything – she never sent it. Why didn’t she send it? Because, in her exact words, “Im not sure what amount I mentioned as far as you keeping the car. I need to clarify a few things. ” Turns out that the numbers she gave me for keeping the car (what I had based my down payment on) were waaaaaaay off. In fact, if I kept the car, I would actually owe¬†them money. Ha ha ha ha…yeah, no. The original numbers she had given me for if the company hauled the car away were still the same, and still acceptable, so I told her to go with those. I made it very clear that I no longer wished to keep the car and I even quoted the numbers back to her so that there was no confusion.

Or so I thought.

I asked multiple questions and kept her updated on what I was doing. If I got a response at all, it was in 14-year old girl textspeak. I would receive emails that said nothing but “ok ty” or “no ūüôā ” This was annoying, because not only was I getting no information, but I did not feel like a professional was handling my case, and my money. After several more useless emails, she finally sent me the form. I had to sign it, get it notarized, and mail it off to release the title of the car. I did this immediately. When I let her know that it had been mailed, she said something to the effect of “Oh wait, I sent you the wrong form. This one is state-specific. Send me this one instead.” But when I looked at it, it was completely the wrong form. Yes it was for my state, but it was not applicable at all to my case. I let her know that it was the wrong form, and pointed out¬†why it was the wrong form (I’ve learned to be very clear and communicate the equivalent of talking very slowly to her). Her response?

“You may be correct‚Ķ. Let me . In fact disregard.

The person who sent that to me for you misunderstood what I was asking for. Ugh- Im sorry.

The first one you sent is fine. ¬†”

This email infuriated me. Not only was she delaying my case further, but it continued on in the unprofessional manner that I had sadly gotten used to. I went home and sent an email directly to my insurance company to complain. I explained that regardless of the outcome of my claim, the company is great, everyone else I’ve spoken to has been great, but she was unprofessional. I didn’t necessarily want her to get in trouble, but I don’t appreciate being communicated with this way. I included examples.

I received a telephone call this morning saying they would talk to her and they completely understand, and that no, she wouldn’t be in trouble. A few minutes after the call, I received the following email from my adjuster:

“I would like to apologize to you for the abbreviations via email correspondence.

I agree with you, it is unprofessional. I get caught up in abbreviating with my notes in each claim and I think I probably did the same thing in the email so I would like to apologize.”

It was CC’d to 2 other people, presumably her bosses. It may have been a forced apology, but I know that my complaint was addressed, and that makes me feel good. As a side note, it helped strengthen my faith in the company, and I will definitely be staying with them. I just don’t want to have to deal with this adjuster again. (The insurance company is Esurance, btw. I highly recommend them.) Also, when the guy called, he got my bank info so they can just wire me the money instead of mailing it to me. This should help speed up the process.

Since it turned out I was getting significantly less money than originally planned, I had to re-evaluate this whole “new car” thing. I spoke with the dealership and got some preliminary numbers for my smaller down payment, then evaluated my finances. I decided to stick with the shiny new car. It turned out to be only about $100 more per month than the mini, and as I mentioned, I won’t have to pay for any maintenance for as long as I’m paying off the car. Still worth it. I let the dealership know that I still definitely want the car, and apologized for being a pain in the butt. The lady there is also very nice, and she understands the situation. She said they don’t mind holding the car for a little bit longer, and I assured them that as soon as I have the insurance money in my hand, they will have their down payment. Then all will be well in the world.

In which I wreck my car

I have a perfect driving record. I’ve never been in an accident while I was driving, though I have been as a passenger. I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket. The worst I’ve gotten is numerous parking tickets (thank you, NYC), and once, a fix-it ticket for a busted taillight.

Until the other day.

I was on my way to work, at 8:30am. I was on the same freeway I travel every single day, less than a mile from the exit I take. I was annoyed because I was behind someone that was going 50mph in a 60mph zone. I probably could have passed them, but I was so close to the exit that I figured I would bear it for a few more seconds.

And then I saw a sea of debris on the road. Shredded truck tires along with numerous other unidentifiables sprinkled across the freeway. I swerved to miss one thing, but ended up hitting another. I didn’t have a choice, but I instantly realized my mistake. The most horrifying noises were heard as whatever I’d hit ping-ponged around the undercarriage of my car until I watched it jump several feet in the air via my rear view mirror. As I pulled over (luckily I was already in the right lane), I noticed that the left side of my car was smoking. I got a good bit onto the shoulder, even mostly on the grass, threw my hazard lights on and waited for a safe time to open the door to get out and investigate.

I went around back first, since I had seen it fly out there. No damage that I could see. Even though I was in my work clothes – which that day included a form-fitting pencil skirt – I got down on my hands and knees to peek under. There was definitely something amiss towards the front. So I walked around the other side of the car (still no visible damage) and checked out the front. This is what I saw:

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(I know it’s not the best picture, but remember that I was on the side of a busy freeway. I didn’t want to trade picture quality for the possibility of being smashed by an 18-wheeler.)
That dark shape in the middle of my car is the oil pump. This was verified when I stuck my hand under the heavy stream of liquid pouring out of it. I briefly entertained the thought of toughing it out the last mile or so to get to work, so at least I’d be in a safer place, but the heavy outpouring of oil quickly dispelled that idea. So I called AAA for a tow.

Interesting note: the first question AAA asks is “are you safe?” I said that no, I was not safe, I was on the side of a busy freeway. Keep that in mind for later.

I explained that I needed a flatbed tow truck, and then argued that there should be no additional fee as my car¬†requires a flatbed – mini coopers’ frames are too light to be towed the traditional way without ripping the car in half. I still had no idea of what actual damage my car suffered, so I did not want to add to that by getting it towed incorrectly. The lady told me it would be 45 minutes. Since I was on my way to open the shop, I called my boss and explained that this would not be happening.

Since I had some time to kill and watching the steadily growing puddle of oil was not as fun as it sounds, I wandered off to find out what I had hit. Since I had pulled over immediately and had seen the piece briefly, I didn’t have to go far before I found this:
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I was informed by many people later that this is a hose coupling from a pump truck. You know, the big cylindrical trucks that you often see at gas stations? Well someone hadn’t secured the pieces on before driving off on his merry way. What I think happened is that either the truck lost its own tire or swerved to miss one of the existing tire bits on the road, and it jostled this piece loose (probably with a few others). It then sat in the road until my poor little low-clearance mini cooper found it. There is no scale for size in the photo, but the diameter was probably 8-10 inches, with a few more added on the random handle looking thing. I included the part number because it was the only identifying property, and if it can somehow be traced to the truck that lost it, that guy will be buying me a new car. Also, I know this is what I hit, because when I found it, it was already covered in my fresh, warm, oil.

After this, I headed away from the road to sit in the grass and wait for my tow truck. I updated facebook and took in this view.

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I’m glad the weather was nice so I could sit outside and contemplate life, though eventually I did grab the umbrella that’s always in my glove box so I would have some shade. Notice how my car looks fine. It was so sad just sitting there pretending there was no damage. (You can see the evil hose coupling next to it.) Also, since it was still before 9am, I-26 East was still not that busy. That was a nice reprise from what could have been a very noisy (and more dangerous) adventure.

One good Samaritan did stop and ask if everything was ok, but it was right after I’d received the call that the tow truck was 3 miles away, so I sent him on his way. I found out later that if I had really needed help, I should have popped the hood on the car. Also, I think that if I’d¬†really¬†been in distress, I could have attracted some attention because I was still wearing my pencil skirt. I hate to use my femininity as a tool like that, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done. I did actually have a change of clothes in the car, oddly enough, because I was scheduled to get more work done on my tattoo after work that day. However, I did not want to strip down¬†on the side of the freeway, and I still did not feel safe inside my car so close to traffic.
Remember how AAA asked if I was in a safe place? Apparently it didn’t matter that I said no, because I sat on that damn grass for¬†an hour and a half before the tow truck finally showed up. And it wasn’t the tow driver’s fault – he showed me his phone record and he had only received the call from AAA at 9:25. I had made my call at 8:32. In fact, he had even seen me sitting there with my umbrella while he was on another call.
The driver, Jason, was very nice and was glad I had pulled over immediately. He pointed out where I got hit and where the oil trailed to the current spot, so he knew I was in charge. I had done everything right, and I realized that so many people lack common sense and end up making a situation like this so much worse.We talked a bit about the hose coupling I had hit, and as he was hoisting my car up onto the flatbed, he made a face and said “ooh…” This alarmed me – no, no, Driver Jason, don’t make that face when you see the undercarriage of my car. That’s a bad reaction. He asked me if I had seen the engine. Since it was on the side closest to traffic, I had not. (That whole “risking my life for a clear picture” thing.) He said “I’m no mini mechanic, but the entire left side of your engine has been sliced off.” That set my face to maximum frownage. Mini coopers are already expensive to fix. Engines are already expensive to fix. Hearing that a large piece of yours has been sliced off – well, that’s never been good news for anybody. Then Driver Jason asked if I knew my tire was bent. No, I didn’t. But apparently¬†somewhere in all that metal-on-metal banging I heard, my axle got bent, shoving my tire into my car frame. Also, he¬†had “never seen an oil pump dangling like that.” I told him that he was not rising¬†my hopes¬†any higher. He got the car on the flatbed, and we departed.
AAA covers a few miles’ worth of towing, so initially I said to take the mini to the nearest shop. I was still hoping that maybe my oil pan had just been knocked loose or something. But after hearing his account, I knew it would not be such an easy fix so I said go ahead and take it to the mini mechanic in the next town over. Might as well pay for the tow now rather than later. This gave us quite a bit of time to sit and chat. He assured me that insurance would cover this, as it was not my fault. That made me feel a lot better, because I have never filed a claim with car insurance before and it didn’t even occur to me that a random piece of metal junk in the road would not be my fault.
When we arrived at the mechanic shop (I had called ahead) they situated the car and I gave out my info. Driver Jason knocked the towing fee down a bit for me and continued to be very nice and helpful. He left, and I proceeded to call my insurance. In describing what happened, the lady said “Oh my gosh! How did you not crash and die?!” I didn’t know how to answer that, so I said “I just didn’t, ok?” I answered all the standard questions (no, nobody else was involved, yes this is my preferred repair shop) and then proceeded to wait. I let work know that I was still delayed but I would try to come in later. The insurance said an appraiser would be contacting the shop within 24 hours, So there was nothing left to do, I called my boyfriend and politely asked for a ride home, 30 miles away. While I waited, I got to stare at my poor mini, still appearing to have no damage. The oil by now had all leaked out, so there wasn’t even a puddle to hint that something could be wrong.
I ended up calling out of work that day, my first time in 2 years at this job. And that’s when I finally broke down in tears. I had been in a daze all day, getting things done and facts straight. But then when I was finally safe in my boyfriend’s car, having eaten and on the way home, I lost it. The stress and worry had been built up and finally released. It was the first time my boyfriend had seen me cry (not even when I hurt my ankle) but he said it was a perfectly good reason, and that he was surprised I had lasted that long. (My coworkers said the same thing – I sounded very calm on the phone while they would have been hysterical messes.)
Of course, I did not receive any car-related calls the next day, even though the insurance said within 24 hours. I checked my phone constantly while I was at work, but no word either way. And now, it’s Labor Day weekend, so I won’t hear anything until at least Tuesday. (The accident happened on Thursday.) I’m still holding out hope that my poor little mini is fixable, but that hope declines a little with each person I describe the accident to and they make the same face that Driver Jason did. So, what’s probably going to happen is that the insurance will end up declaring the car totaled and cutting me a check for what it is “worth*”. I will keep you all updated if/when I hear anything.*I am not looking forward to that, because I know that my 11-year old car isn’t worth what I would need to get a new car.

I know the situation could have been much worse. I was not hurt in any way, nor was anyone else. If, for example, a car or motorcycle had been behind me when the hose coupling jumped in the air, they definitely would have had a worse day than I did. But still, I’m sad about my car. Yes, it’s a material possession that can be replaced, but it was¬†my¬†car, not just transport.
**UPDATE**
It took a little bit more than a week, but I finally heard back. The mini was at 83% damage, so the insurance declared it totaled. They offered me enough to pay off the remaining balance on the loan and still have enough for a good down payment on something else. Almost at the same time, the mechanic / shop owner offered to buy it from me. He explained how that would work with the insurance, so I asked the insurance what they would give me if I wanted to keep the car. It turned out to be a lot more than they were already prepared to pay me, so I took it. Plus I’ll be getting even more money when I sign the total over to the shop owner. This means I will have a very nice down payment – almost 50% of the new car I want. This also means I¬†can get the car I want – I don’t have to settle for anything less.

So, in conclusion, everything worked out in the best possible way. If I had to wreck my car, I mean.

In which I get injured

First, some background.
Back in 2001, I studied a semester abroad in Argentina. One of the excursions we took was to the Andes Mountains, specifically Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres. I didn’t¬†climb the mountain or anything, but I was hiking in its general vicinity. It was during this hike that I crossed a very small river that was rushing too fast. My support rock shifted, and I fell. It was later revealed that I had broken my ankle, but not in the normal way. You know that little bone that forms a bump on the outside of your ankle? I broke the tip of mine off. It never healed right, and even though it makes for a cool story, I still have problems with it to this day.

Which brings us to the present…

Last week, I went camping for my birthday. I went to see the synchronized fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I wore my hiking boots, but forgot my ankle brace (which I keep inside my boots so I wear it whenever I go hiking), and like a dummy, I figured it be ok just this once. *Insert foreshadowing here*
Well, we watched the firefly display (which was so amazing that it deserves its own post) and began to head back to camp. It was very dark by now, and it started to pour down rain. It rained so much that everyone was immediately soaked, even if they stood under the trees for shelter. I was so wet that I honestly thought I’d never be dry again. And then I found that one uneven bit of path that only I was destined to find and took a major tumble. Normally if I twist my ankle it stops me for a second and I can keep going. But not this time. This time I was on the ground, in the dark, in the rain. I didn’t cry or scream or cuss, but I did leave reality.
While sitting in the mud holding my ankle, I noticed that the rain stopped. “At least I’ve got that going for me” I remember thinking. But then Logical Robot Brain stepped in and reminded me that I was just too distracted by the pain to notice insignificant things like rain. (Logical Robot Brain sometimes likes to make things rhyme to keep me interested.) So I shook it off and tried to concentrate on my breathing and pain control. Boyfriend was with me, guarding me from the people still coming down the gravel path from the fireflies. (Remember, it was dark and pouring rain.) He’d shine the flashlight all around to make sure nobody tripped on me and caused further injuries. He was doing that for a while until someone actually stepped up to offer assistance. I didn’t get a good look at her, but I’m fairly positive she was wearing a makeshift rain hat out of a bucket, which signaled my brain to cue rainfall again. I thanked her and waved her away, because honestly there was nothing she could do. I just needed a moment to focus enough of the pain out of my body so that I could finish the walk back to the campsite and get out of the now neverending rain. Eventually I was able to, and once back in the tent, I toweled off, changed my clothes, and had some makeshift medicine in the form of whiskey.

Here’s the part where I knew something was really wrong. My boyfriend and I were recapping the situation, and he said it was really nice of that lady to stop and offer help. I agreed, but I added that it took her long enough. Bf looked at me quizzically. “…She was right there as soon as you fell…” No way. I had definitely been sitting there for at least ten minutes, hating the rain and hating all the people passively passing by. But then I remembered how I had thought the rain stopped, and decided that bf’s memory was probably more trustworthy than my own pain-addled one. So that was a first. In all my many injuries (broken bones, concussions, etc), I’ve never had one that hurt so badly that it stopped time before. I don’t recommend it, btw.

The next morning, we were packing up the campsite to go home. I was hobbling, but at least a little mobile. Definitely no 6-mile hikes that day (or for a while) but I could get around. On the way out of the park, we stopped at the visitor’s center, which as you can imagine, was full of people. My superpower of always being able to find the worst spot to step kicked in again, and because I was still brace-less on a weakened ankle, down I went one more time. This time I did yell a very loud “MOTHERF–” before cutting myself off and keeping it PG for all the kids around. While time didn’t quite stop for me this time, I did have to take a while to recover before I could put any weight on my foot so I could hobble to a bench and sit there for another long while. Then I had to drive us an hour and a half home, using my ankle way more than I would like since I drive a manual transmission car. Bf vowed to learn to drive stick after this, but since there was nothing else he could do for me,¬†he researched the easiest and quickest way home.

Thankfully, I had a few more days off from work (huzzah for birthday week!) but soon I had to return to normal life, which includes standing for 8 hours a day. I am currently still wearing the brace every day to work, but after a long day of cutting hair all the ibuprofen in the world doesn’t let me forget that I’ve still got an injury so bad that receiving it tore the fabric of time.

In which I choose physical pain

Why do we get tattoos? Sure, they look pretty, but so do things that don’t hurt and/or cost so much. I’ve just returned from a 5 hour tattoo appointment. I have many tattoos, but until today, I only had one that took multiple sessions. I don’t like pain, so I can’t sit for very long. But I willingly went down to see my tattoo artist, requested that he repeatedly stab¬†my entire lower leg with an electric paintbrush for hours on end, and then¬†paid him for it. Why? There are so many other things that my hard-earned cash could buy that don’t involve masochism. Actually, I should specify. I’m not masochistic, since I do not enjoy being in pain¬†atall.¬†AT ALL. If you’ve never had a tattoo, allow me to explain. Imagine a cat scratching you. Mildly annoying, but you can deal with it, right? (Unless you’re a hemophiliac, in which case DO NOT GET A TATTOO.) Now imagine that same cat scratching you over and over and over again in the same place. For hours. Sometimes in ridiculous places. Of course different people have different tolerances for pain, and there are parts of the body that are more painful to get scratched or tattooed than others (this varies person to person too), but it’s the best description I have thought of in the 15 or so years that I have been putting myself through this. Luckily, the pain is temporary while the resulting artwork lasts a lifetime. So, the longer you sit for a tattoo, the more it hurts. This is exactly why the majority of my ink (13/15, unless I’m miscounting – which is entirely possible) has been completed in 2.5 hours or less. I know what my pain tolerance is, and I find designs that can be accomplished in this time. Until recently. I had some hairbrained idea to devote a large portion of my body to visually represent my love of the outdoors in an homage to both my hometown and my current home. I wanted a new work of art though – actual, award winning, beautiful art that both my artist and I would proudly show off, and that would make random passersby’s jaws drop. Brian was excited when I told him my plan. I was excited that he was excited. Until today. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was there for 5 hours, yet astute readers will remember me saying I can only sit for 2.5 for a tattoo. What were we doing for the rest of that time? Planning out this opus, with markers. I loved that part, by the way. Someone could draw on me with markers all day long and I would be as happy as a rainbowed clam. I even traced my progress via instagram: Step 1: draw the parameters.

Step 1, draw the parameters. #newtattoo #tattoo #leg

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Step 2: Draw the trees.

Step 2: draw the #trees. #newtattoo #tattoo #leg

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Step 2.5: Draw the mountains, and figure out where the faerie (des’ first tattoo!) will fit in. Step 3: Make it even cooler with colors and depth!

Step 3: all the #colors! (in marker) #newtattoo #tattoo #leg #trees

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Step 4: Apply permanent ink! (Thank you Brian, for this cameo!)

Step 4 : ink #newtattoo #tattoo #leg

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Step 5: Complete Phase 1. Repeat once per month, as required, until finished.

Step 5: complete phase 1. Repeat once a month until completed. #newtattoo #tattoo #leg

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About 2 hours in, I stopped trying to actually look at my leg to see the progress, and flat out asked how much more there would be. Brian and I both knew going in that we wouldn’t finish it tonight, so there was an unspoken stopping point. In fact, he wanted to go over a few more spots again, but I pleaded with him to wait until next time. Yes, I know that will make it take more sessions. I don’t care. I can’t handle this pain anymore! I apologized for being such a wuss, to which he replied with a laugh and the admission that he’s the same way. I asked if he had any tricks, since all the ones I know of (namely alcohol and/or painkillers) hinder the process by thinning your blood. His trick? One or two of the airplane-sized bottles of whiskey. Won’t that thin the blood, I asked? Not that little amount – it’s enough to take the edge off, but not fully complicate things. Just don’t binge drink the night before, which is not a problem for me anyway.

So I’m going to try a nip of the clear liquid next time. In exactly a month from today. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In which I battle a corporation for money

You may remember when I got my mini cooper a while back. Not long after acquiring said car, I needed to replace the power steering pump. It was a known defect in certain cars, and though it worked most of the time, it was not fun to be driving when suddenly my power steering went out. Luckily, it was tax time, so Uncle Sam gave me back some of my money and I was able to get this fixed.

Not long after that, like less than a month, mini sent out a recall notice. They stated specifically that if we had already replaced the part, they would issue a reimbursement. I got all my paperwork together and sent it in on June 5, 2013. I was told to wait 6-8 weeks.

So I waited. And heard nothing. I gave them a call, just to make sure they received everything. They had, and Good News! They were reimbursing me the full amount, with parts and labor came to almost $1000. So that was excellent. Also, by this time I had a new address, so I gave them that so there would be no confusion. Then I continued to wait, already making plans on what to do with the money once I got it back.

And I continued to wait.

Every 3-4 weeks or so, I would call mini again to find out the status. Every time I called, I had to verify all my personal info, including the address (which I had changed, remember). This is an important detail to stow away for later.
Every time I called, they promised me a different release date for the check. First it was the original 6-8 weeks. Then it was “by the end of the month.” Then, the end of the year. Then, they just stopped giving me estimates.
A few times, they couldn’t find my records at all, which was hilarious and maddening all at the same time. Lucky for everyone involved, I myself had kept detailed records. When I gave them this information, my “case” was finally found again. I even asked to speak with supervisors and managers. Once I was transferred to the “I want to be financed for a brand new BMW*, please” representative. That was just all kinds of wrong. They are supposed to pay¬†me!¬†

Eventually I got the news that an actual physical check had been cut in my name. So I checked the mail every day, and continued to wait. After another month or so, I called them again. Much back and forth led to the discovery that my mystery check had been sent to my old address. You know, the one I changed about a month into this whole ordeal, and had to verify with every biweekly phone call? So I re-gave them my new address, though at this point I’ve lived here for about 9 months.

And I continued to wait.

(I did receive an email asking me to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. I decided they didn’t want me to fill that out until I actually got the thing I’d been fighting almost a year for, so I saved it til later. I’ll still fill it out, but at least now there’s closure to my case.)

Until today, Lo! A Fedex envelope that required a signature. The return address said BMW. I was almost in tears as I opened it. Did I really get my check, after literally 50 weeks? I had almost started to believe it was a myth. My elation was cut short, however, as I noticed several pages attached to my check. Did.. did they send me extra money? No. They sent me 5 other people’s checks paperclipped to my own. Some goon at the BMW head office was handed a stack of checks, instructed to mail them, and didn’t bother to see if they were all going to the same place. Mine happened to be on top, so they all came to me.

Interesting side note, they spelled my city incorrectly. Apparently I put in¬†additional syllables and letters when I say my address. Or someone doesn’t bother to double check anything. Just one more thing that may have been able to speed the process up.

My own check went immediately into the bank, before there was any case of BMW calling backsies. I was tempted to call ¬†(or at least reply to the email) to let them know of their error, but then I figured that if I had fought this long and hard for my check, these people probably have too. If I tell BMW they effed up, they’ll cancel the checks and those poor bastards will have to start the process over. So, I’m going to write each person a little note explaining what happened, and send the checks out myself. Maybe there will be some karma, or maybe these people will flip out and call BMW themselves. Either way, my battle is finally over.

The end.

?

UPDATE, JUNE 5:
in the three weeks since writing this post, I’ve heard from 4 out of the 5 people I sent checks to. I received 2 emails, one handwritten card, and one person even found me on facebook. They all had the same story: they’ve been battling for at least a year for this money with no end in sight, and they were all very grateful. Not grateful enough to send me a portion of their newly acquired money, but that’s ok. ūüėČ

 

 

*BMW is the parent company of mini.