Tuesday, May 31, 2011

can i be a renter again, please?

New research shows over 60% of the financial collapse's toxic assets were created by power drills.

Sometimes I think owning things, like a house or a car is great - you can drill holes, plant a garden, paint, whatever.  Sometimes, though, it totally sucks. 
I had a really great Memorial Day weekend.  It was our first Fire Island weekend of the season, as well as Kathy's college reunion.  I got my first really weird sunburn from inadequate sunscreen application (one-inch square in the middle of my chest and a sunburned armpit), which sounds terrible but is actually a fun reminder of lying on the beach, and happens every year anyway. 
In preparation for the college reunion/Fire Island driving, we had to get our '99 Jetta fixed.  It was running okay, but didn't sound all that great, so we thought we would take it in.  $656 later, the car ran exactly the same.  For real, no discernible difference.  We drove it out to Fire Island on Saturday afternoon, and, sitting at a stoplight, it stalled.  "Weird," Kathy said.  "I haven't stalled a car in years."  (dun dun dun, ominous foreshadowing). 
Sunday, Kathy's mom drove down to Sayville with the kids to make the crossing to Fire Island.  After missing our ferry back to Sayville on Monday afternoon (we do this every time, much to our next-door neighbors' amusement), we were already an hour late coming back.  I got in the Jetta and turned the key.  Absolutely nothing happened.  Well, actually, some lights blinked on and off, which I guess is something, but the car did not start.  We thought maybe it was the battery, so we decided to try to jump it with the other car and hope that would do it (how convenient that we had both cars!). 
I pulled the hood release to pop it, and it didn't pop.  I pulled it again, and again -- nothing.  "What the hell?" I muttered.  I tried again and heard a faint click.  By this time, I figured out that the garage we took our car to had somehow apparently disconnected our hood release.  WHY you would do that I have no idea.  But we couldn't pop the hood.  Don't worry, Kathy tried it at least 100 times as well.  Isn't that a weird thing that people do?  It's like they don't believe you can do a simple task properly, or that somehow if they try it, it will magically start working.  I definitely do it too. 
Anyhow, fast forward to me pushing the car through the parking lot with Kathy's 67-year-old mother in 80 degree heat, while Kathy tries to pop the clutch and get the car started.  Needless to say, that did not work.  After about 6 or 7 attempts, we gave up and got in the other car to go home -- about 2.5 hours behind schedule, with an eight-year-old so hungry she was actually crying for part of the drive.  Pleasant.
When we walked in, I noticed that the refrigerator was dripping water.  This happened last year, and it was over $800 to get it fixed (no, we could not get a whole new fridge that fit the space in our kitchen for that price -- I asked).  Then, we tried to turn on the air conditioning upstairs so the kids could sleep, and it blew hot air.  I went into the dark living room, sat on the couch, and cried.  I went back into the kitchen and cried again.
Then, I pulled it together.  I remembered that we have a weird lightswitch-looking thing on our ductwork in the basement that says "HEAT" and "COOL" and switched it to cool, then went in the attic and found another one and did the same thing.  The house dropped in temperature and humidity, and the water stopped dripping off of the refrigerator.  Kathy and I developed a car-fixing plan that involves me making only one trip alone to Sayville to try to fix the car well enough to bring it back to the garage that, in my opinion, F-ed it up in the first place.
All's well that ends well, I suppose, but sometimes I think home/car ownership is not all it's cracked up to be.  At times like these, I wish I could call my landlord and make them just fix everything that is broken, for free, rather than us having to be responsible for it all ourselves.  But then, I can go drill holes in whatever I want, so that's nice too.

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