Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas, Unless My Car Explodes ...

(still singing) ... please have no snow, or ice either because it'll make my car wreck ... and presents to drown my sorrow ...

I was driving to Ogden today, when I hit a patch of ice in between lanes on I-70 just outside Lawrence. My car spun from the middle lane all the way to the median wall - where the front left side made a hard, loud impact, smashing the entire front of my car as it continued to spin and slam into the back right.

It continued to spin, but I kept my hands on the wheel as all the alerts lit in my dashboard and my airbag failed to execute (thank God). By the time I managed to pull my car calmly to the shoulder of the road, without hitting anyone or seriously injuring myself, I think I had spun counter clock-wise 2 or 3 times; I barely scraped my knee and the impact knocked my glasses off. The catch-all wicker basket I keep in my car got smashed, and the presents went flying, but nothing inside the car, including myself, was seriously injured.

I was lucky. It's strange for me to be optimistic in times of crisis, but I managed to remain calm during the wreck - I know at first I yelled "Whoaaa!!!" not unlike while on a roller coaster, but a string of curse words cruised me for the rest of the thrill-ride until I finally stopped. I think, at one point during the spinning, I even smiled, just because the experience was so surreal, like when you're at a funeral - and so fast you can't catalog the appropriate expressions and sins to repent in time. I remember thinking, "Merry Christmas to me!" and betrayal because, "MY CAR WAS JUST BURGLED!"

Again, just like when I fell off that cliff, I was surprised that my life didn't flash before my eyes. How close to death must one be before all the flashing. I wanted flashing. I had to settle with flashers, well, flasher, as the only one of my lights that remains in any sort of tact is the back left side.

When I stopped, I tried to start my car again - my visceral reaction was, "Ugh, I'm going to be late for work." Kind of like when my car was burgled (what, like 3 weeks ago), when I wondered if I should just drive my car to breakfast without worrying about all the shattered glass.

I called 911 who transferred me to The Turnpike Authority, who dispatched a tow truck and a highway patrol officer (who had an I-hate-filling-out-car-accident-paperwork-where's-my-murder-case look about him). They took my information at the service station between Lawrence and Topeka. I had seen tow truck after tow truck and cop after cop speed by me as I shouted, "I'm right here!" I guess the other accidents were more serious; I hope everyone of them is OK.

Tow truck driver asked if I had a ride, but I didn't. He said he'd give me a ride, but I needed to figure out what I'd do when I got back to Lawrence. I called all the friends I knew that would still be in Lawrence over the holidays, and they were few. I was edging toward desperation when I called a few exes (one who called me later, concerned), but I ended up being able to easily rent a car (even though Enterprise employees have to get managerial permission for those under 25).

Tow truck driver drove me to Steve's Autoplaza in Lawrence (I recommend it to EVERYONE) while Highway Patrolman whistled on his very-un-merry-way. The woman at Steve's wore a shirt with a Santa Claus almost as big as mine and was most kind and caring as was the auto repairman.

They spoke with my insurance agent, listened to my babbling, gave their advice, and got me set up with a rental car from the Enterprise store across the street. I wanted something big and 4 wheel drive, and so they showed me the Jeep Commander, an almost Hum-Vee. I sat in the driver's seat and felt almost militant. Perfect. For a while, all my energy conservation crap broke off me like one of my headlights. I'm sure I'll feel guilty about it soon enough, but for now, just call me Private Whiplash.

Here are some photos:
The repairman said the back quarter (pictured here) of the vehicle would need to be replaced as well as the lift gate, the bumper, the tail light and something under with a name I can't remember.

Such carnage.
Both headlights will need to be replaced, as well as the entire coolant system, radiator, the front frame, the hood and most of the underbelly in the front.

Although the damage is primarily in the front and back, because of the kind of injuries my car sustained, it may be legally "totalled," which I guess means that the cost to repair the vehicle is 75 percent of its total worth.

I saw pieces of my car flying off in different directions, and when I exited my car, which I affectionately named Argo, I saw I-70ers run over the pieces, and tear them to shreds, while my bumper lay on the left shoulder by itself. I couldn't help but feel guilty for my car, like undead roadkill. I look at these photos and have the kind of sensation I'd get if one of my animals were injured.

This is Argo at the repair shop, and the white vehicle is my rental. Argo is still definitely better looking, well, maybe not NOW, but my Escape had a kind of timeless class that made me love it more than I probably should have. It was very dependable, always there should my friends need rescuing. It moved at least 3 people, carried my college career and fit snugly in my garage and in my life as the perfect car. I'm sorry I failed it.

Thanks for reading. <3

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peeking Into Ogden: My New Home

In the last blog, I reported about my new job overshadowed only by the news of my robbery. However, now that I have some distance ... and a new window, I'm excited to show you a a glimpse of my work place, and the people I call my colleagues.

Ogden Publications, in Topeka, Kan., is the home of several magazines, including The Herb Companion, Grit, Cappers, Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Gas Enginge, Farm Collector, Motorcycle Classics and Natural Home Magazine - and the home of my new graphic design/copy writing gig. My boss hasn't decided on my position title, so for now, call me Jack.

For my final editorial hurrah, I made our video holiday greeting card - made for each of the editorial magazines in my department: Grit, Cappers and The Herb Companion. I've embedded Cappers video, because it has all my co-workers (who were cooperative [and they were few]), followed by the more fun blooper reel.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just when I get a job ... I get robbed.

I was robbed. Around 3 on Saturday morning, someone took a landscaping stone and smashed it through my front driver's side window. I was on my way to breakfast to break some news to my friends, when I walked up to my car and saw the shattered glass and stood dumbfounded and unbelieving.
When I opened the passenger door, I saw green shards of glass glittering and littering the entire front part of my car.

Pieces of shattered glass standing sharp against the dashboard, steerwheel and console like knives. Scrapes, tears and dents marking the devastating path of the stone that ruined not only the interior of my car but my day, nay my whole week.
I couldn't help but think, the one day I was prepared to give the best news, is the day I was betrayed, scared and sad that someone would do this to me. My car was sitting in my driveway, not 20 feet from my front door, an easy target because of a visible credit card. But it could have been worse.

I wasn't really shaken up until that night when I tried to fall asleep and raced back and forth from the window checking every sound on the street - envisioning my poor car raped by the light of the Christmas decorations. I felt sad for my car, like an animal, like it had feelings.

For the rest of the weekend, I stayed home, car safe and secure in my garage - but Monday I had to drive to work in Topeka, and with a missing window on a record-cold day, I wasn't very happy.
At first I thought it might be a hate crime - or a neighbor on the street I disgruntled with my particular love and flair for the holidays. But when the police officer who filled out my report told me that about five other cars on the street had also been broken into - and that two cars at a company near where I work were set aflame, I felt strangely better.

The good news I was going to deliver that day is that, I GOT A NEW JOB! I'm a graphic artist for a publishing company in Topeka. I start today (even though it's national "Call In Gay Day".)

And now a weird story: About a week ago, when trying to pull down the fake Christmas tree (to give away) from the attic, I noticed that a bird had shredded our dryer tube and nested in the end! I noticed a dead bird in the attic in October when I went up for Halloween decorations, but didn't really think anything of it.