Saturday, April 30, 2016

Princess, Possibly The World's Most Accommodating Chicken

Here's G playing dress up with Princess the (aptly named) chicken, whom G has decreed to be her "royal pet." #thedailychicken

In Which Katie Lapses Into Radical Consumerism

So you guys.... guess what? I GOT A NEW CAR!!!!! An honest to goodness new car. I haven't had a new car for a very, very long time. Even though I've known the inevitable day was coming when the Solid Gold Minvan would explode somewhere,  leaving me and the kids trapped, I also absolutely dreaded the hassle of finding, pricing and buying a new car to replace it.

 Haggling is not something at which I excel (although I am making a habit to do better in asking what I am worth in my freelance work instead of the just taking the first offer made to me, but I digress) My fear of haggling for a car made me feel sort of physically ill, I dreaded it like swallowing crushed glass or firewalking while juggling angry weasels. But the problem was that the rapidly deteriorating condition of my 2001 Town & Country mom-mobile was forcing the issue. I had to get a new car sooner rather than later.

But like I said, I just KNEW I would get ripped off somehow.  Enter my little brother Robert, a lawyer and property developer who actually likes putting deals together. He offered to do all the haggling for me - and he did, by phone (because he lives about 3.5 hours away from me and the dealership.) All I had to do was show up at the dealership and sign the paperwork.  Robert did all the price checking for me and feels sure that I got a solid deal.

The` one  other thing I did have to do is turn the keys and title to the Solid Gold Minivan over to the dealer for the SGM's trade in value. I know it will be a sad day for so many of you to hear that the Solid Gold Minivan will likely be headed for the salvage yard. But I take comfort in knowing that it performed its duties admirably well in the 15 years since it was purchased new. However, it had finally reached the point of no return. It didn't help me that someone rear-ended me on the interstate on the same day I was planning to trade it in. The verdict? I got a whopping $500 trade in value.

So what kid of car did I get!! Is the excitement just killing you? Well here here it is. It's a Scion ia.

If you've never heard of Scion before, it's a line made and marketed by Toyota. They're apparently now folding the Scion models into the existing Toyota brand so no new Scions will be made after this year, but all maintenance.repairs/etc will continue to be handled Toyota. 

I picked the Scion for several reasons. One was that they had some great financing deals going. But I also need a car with much better gas miliage. I'll bet the SGM was getting 25 miles per gallon on it's very best days. Also, I needed to downsize. I am no longer hauling five children around in a minuvan. Jane is in college, Elliot starts college in the fall and they both have their own cars. So mostly when I drive somewhere it's just me, or me and the the two littles. It's  kind of like our decision to downsize into a much smaller house; we just had too much empty space in that large, gas guzzling SGM. Last, I wanted a car that gets really strong reviews, which the Scion definitely does.  

The only thing I don't totally dig about the car is the front end design, It looks sort of...well,,,I can't figure out what it looks like, but if I had my druthers, it would look more like a Honda or maybe a Prius  up front. Oh well, in the immortal words of Mick, "you can't always get what you want." 

In this case though, I definitely got pretty darn close to exactly what I wanted, After two days I can honestly say that I love the new car. Yes, it does have something to do with that undoubtedly unhealthy "new car smell" off-gassing from all the new plastic and fabric inside the car. I mean,. who doesn't love a new car smell? Some of the other cool features I love about the car are the very good mileage, the keyless entry system, and I also really like the screen that shows your backup view. I'm certain I will just love the bluetooth enabled phone access plus Stitcher and Pandora that come standard with the car.  So far my sister Betsy has attempted to explain how these features work, but i am still just as baffled as ever. I am sure I will love them when I figure them out. E will be here tonight.. Maybe he can help me. 

Oh! And another really cool feature of the car is a collission control sensor. If the car senses that you are rolling slowly toward something - like another car - it stops my car automatically. This will be HUGELY helpful to me,.

So yeah, I am excited. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I am generally not a "car person." I've never really cared what I drove as long as it got me there. But my zippy, new little Scion may turn ne into a much more enthusiastic driver. 

So what kind of car do you drive? Did you buy it new? Did you consider the haggling/buying process terribly stressful? And are you happy with the car you bought? Tell me in the comments below.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Writer's Block

There was a time, not so long ago, when writing literally poured out of me. Nary a day went by when I wasn't writing something, either here on my blog or for a magazine or newspaper.. But then someone pointed out to me the existence of a website that in large part was devoted to criticizing everything about me - from my looks to my husband and children to, yes, you guess it, my writing.

I thought I had a thick skin. I'd certainly taken my hits online for stuff I'd written. The worst ws the online comments on stories about the overdose and beating death of my son Henry. But this new vitriol was the worst I could imagine. These people on this website would flat out make stuff up about me. How do you respond to that? I mean, if you argue with them, you're feeding the trolls. If you ignore them, you allow them to publish flat out lies online with no recourse.

I decided on the latter,.I have done my best to never look at that site, but just knowing it's there, and that they will mock me and make fun of how I write and what I write about is hard. But one day recently when I wanted to write but somehow felt that I couldn't, I got mad. And a  flip switched in my heart and brain, I've been a  writer since preschool, when my mother says I used to make tiny books. I was editor of my high school newpaper and a columnist for my college paper. I've been freelancing for everyone from The News York Times to Huffington Post ever since. And of course, I am a blogger - something I've been doing for 11 years now and which gives me a lot of joy.

I am guessing that the people who rip me to shreds on that website don't care whether I feel joy or not. That's too bad because making people happy instead of sad is an awesome feeling.

In recent months,I find myself itching to blog again - nasty trolls be damned. I'm just promising myself that I will NOT look at that website. I just won't.

And I will write....and write....and write... Some of what I wrote will be heavy and other times what I write will be frivolous. But I WILL WRITE. I won't let a bunch of strangers take away from me one of the great joys of my life.

Thank you for reading. I love hearing from you in the comments. Thnk you to all of you who have supported me through the hellish last several years..

And now, I will write.