Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sayonaru Scoobaru

Last week I had a bittersweet day. I replaced my car. It seems peculiar to be sentimental about a vehicle, but Scooby, the 2002 Subaru Outback wagon, has been such an integral part of our lives that its hard to imagine life without him. We bought the car, shiny and brand new, before we were married, before we had the dog or the kids. Before I even had a proper job.

The 202,000 miles on his clock delineate the great waves of life we have lived since then. A measure of the life of a family in miles.

I watched my brand new sparkling diamond engagement ring cast rainbows on his dashboard as I drove to my first proper job.

We sat in his warm leather cocoon as we debated whether to buy our Tahoe cabin.

We filled his trunk with cases of wine as we scoured the wine country planning our wedding.

We collected Geekydog from the animal shelter, her happy dog laugh misting up the windows as we transported her to a new life of dog luxury.

I screamed through the last part of labor with Geekygirl as we hit every red light crossing town, fearing that she would be born right there on the back seat.

I nursed both kids (pulled over and stationary of course), in his passenger seat on many a trip to the mountains.

I locked two year old Geekygirl inside, prompting the most critical test of my negotiating skills to date.

We transported cribs and changing tables, then toddler beds and sectional furniture back from Ikea in his spacious interior.

We transported a dazed and pathetic Geekydog to and from not one but two knee ligament surgeries.

We negotiatied rain, hail and snow storms with sleeping kids and pets all held safe in his steel embrace.

The miles represent hundreds of ordinary journeys to work, to get groceries, to get up and down from Tahoe. Some of those miles were the extraordinary moments; first days at school, interviews for new jobs, unexpected trips to the ER, and bringing new babies home.

I drove the car for the last time last week, down to the dealership, where we left it to its fate. It was a sunny day, and the wood and leather of the steering wheel felt warm, worn, and oh so familiar under my hands. 202,000 miles of hands sitting at ten to two. I felt disloyal, as if I was taking a beloved old dog to the pound. I started to understand why some people keep old cars on blocks in their driveways forever.

We traded it in for a brand new Subaru Tribeca SUV. It is fantastic.  A sleek dark indigo blue, with a pristine rich smelling cream leather interior (Though cream may not have been the best choice for a family car, I am already realizing). It is eerily quiet and rattle free, the engine smooth and powerful and the stereo as clear as a bell. I think we are going to have a beautiful relationship. But I'm still not quite over the other guy.

This isn't really a Thansgiving post, its just that the holiday has given me time to write. There's nothing like mulling over ten great years though to feel almost overwhelmed with things to be thankful for. The least of these being really good cars.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the holidays begin wth halloween

Halloween heralds the arrival of the whole holiday season here in the USA. Fall and winter and their collection of holidays just run right along into each other without stopping for breath. The orange of fall slowly deepens to the red of Christmas as the pumpkiny-ghostly themed tableware and knickknacks morph into the pumpkiny-pilgrimy items only to be supplanted in the aisles by poinsettas and snowflakes. When I'm feeling happy and energized I love the costume hunting, the various parades, parties and community events. I enjoy the holiday card making and the anticicpation of special food and presents. When I'm tired, all of this seasonally prescribed fun seems to expand into into a relentless list of 'to do items' to be stuffed into the giant gant chart in my head. Perhaps I should start making actual gant charts for the holidays, that way I might avoid paying rush shipping for last minute presents and everyone who should get a present or card from us might actually receive one before January. Anyone know of a good "microsoft project for mothers" iphone app?

This halloween, however, I exceeded even my own expectations by getting the kids costumes well in advance and getting everyone to their various events and parades with all costume bits intact. Nobody got sick, and Geekygirl obliged me this year by choosing her halloween alter ego (Tinkerbell) many weeks in advance of the day, and for possibly the first time in history not changing her mind at the last minute. Geekyboy got it into his head that he wanted to be "max's red robot toy from max and ruby". Of course the creative mum who prioritizes her children's wishes over her demanding schedule (my alter ego) would have jumped to this challenge. The mum who prefers to order costumes online while sitting in her office (the actual me) suggested to Geekyboy that he be Plex the Robot from "Yo Gabba Gabba" instead, since this costume could be conveniently purchased with a single click.

I'm always rather jealous of families who manage to persuade their kids to take part in a themed extravaganza. One of my friends boys was an incredible miniature Elton John,and she, in an amazng feat of creativity, was his piano. My kids were delighted with their off the shelf costumes though, so I should quell the "I'm not superhalloweenmom" guilt. In fact Geekyboy so embraced his robot persona that he would answer only to "Plex" while in costume, and insisted on walking in a special and rather adorable robotty way for the entire parade. I suspect the boy may end up on the stage.

Selfishly, I ended up reviving my long dormant creative talents for my own costume. We have a party at work every year with prizes for creativity. We have a fun crowd, but recent changes have left people rather despondent. Our group decided to try and bring back a bit of the fun. Inspired by this brilliant video (warning, it may only really resonate with you if you spent six years of your life as an impoverished graduate student or postdoctoral research fellow), we did our own "lady gaga wears lab wear" team extravaganza, complete with dance routine. We won. I was really quite pleased with the way my latex lab glove dress came out. It made me a little nostalgic for times when my actual hairstyle was not dissimilar to this wig, and when I went to clubs wearing outfits that were not all that different either. I was also very grateful, as I wandered the neighbourhood trick or treating event that evening, still in costume, to live in warm, accepting San Francisco.

Happy belated Halloween!