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Archive for the ‘CKP’ Category

Remember that time I thought my foot was broken, and then it wasn’t broken, and I had unexplained ankle pain for about a year before anyone could tell me what was wrong, and then one of the doctors decided he knew what was wrong, and they took out the extra bone in my foot and got mostly better and I did fun things???  Well, as of January 2015, I was pretty much back where I was in January 2013, just with a more complicated treatment history.

I had ankle surgery in October 2013, and in Spring 2014, once I started running and working out again, I played two tennis matches because my tennis team needed someone to play.  I did okay for not having played in a year and a half, but I didn’t feel great about it, and I figured I would sit out the summer and be all well and rested for fall tennis. I ran about ten miles a week in June and July, and did yoga a couple of times a week.  I had some tweaks of pain on occasion, but I was thrilled by this level of activity, as a year previously I had basically resigned myself to the fact that I might never run more than a mile again.

In August 2014, I decided I was ready to start playing tennis again.  I even took a couple clinics.  Being out on the courts felt good, even though I was still a little leery of my foot.  The last week of September, I ran three miles on Monday, took a tennis clinic on Wednesday, and played my first tennis match of the season on Thursday.  My tennis opponent made swift work of me, and ours was the only match that was finished by the time it started raining.  I was relieved that it was over, because I didn’t feel good about my ankle, but I didn’t feel any worse than I did during the spring matches, and I figured it was all in my head.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday are normal days.  Sunday night, I get a hankering for Jestine’s.  Jestine’s is just over a half mile from my house, and if I don’t want it bad enough to walk a mile for it, I probably don’t deserve it.   Plus, it always tastes so much better, and Briscoe likes to walk.  Briscoe and I happily and successfully make it to Jestine’s and almost back to the house with no trouble.  Half a block from my house, mid step, my ankle locked up and each step resulted in blinding pain.  If I had been more than half a block from my house, I would have required rescuing.  As it was, I hobbled home in near tears, and stumbled up my stairs, collapsing on the couch in the worst pain in recent memory.  I dug through my medicine cabinet and found some pain killers from my surgery, but when I woke up the next day I was still in pretty serious pain.  I dug out the ole trusty walking CAM boot, and tried not to scream in frustration.

I made an appointment with my Augusta surgeon, and with the ankle guy at MUSC.  Augusta Surgeon could see me Friday, MUSC said I was in luck, that their Ankle guy could see me December 15th. Augusta Surgeon was completely nonplussed by my regression.  He said that it’s not uncommon for scar tissue to break up about a year after surgery, and that I should wear the boot until I didn’t need to anymore, and call him back in six weeks if it was still painful.  I went back five weeks later and he fitted me with a lace up brace, and ordered an MRI.  I had an MRI thanksgiving week. The MRI showed some swelling and inflammation of my FHL and PTT tendon, but nothing was torn or broken.  I went back to Augusta Surgeon the week after the MRI, and he told me I should just be patient, that inflammation like this can take 3-4 months to heal, and that I should try to take it easy until January.  He said he felt sure it would be better by January.  I asked him what would happen if it wasn’t better by January.  He said that if it wasn’t better by January, it meant there was something else wrong with the ankle that the MRI didn’t show.  Great.

I was able to transition from the CAM boot to a lace up brace.  Before I knew it, it was December 15, and I was able to see the MUSC ankle guy.  I was told that most people wait six months to see the MUSC ankle guy, and I was lucky I only had to wait 2.5 months.  Dr. MUSC said that he wanted to review my MRI with his radiologist and that he would contact me after he came up with a treatment plan.  Dr. MUSC’s PA called me on December 31, and asked if I could come in that morning for an ankle injection.  Dr. MUSC said that he believed that there was something wrong with my FHL tendon, but that his radiologist disagreed.  Dr. MUSC injected my posterior tibial tendon sheath with ropivocaine.  This was an interesting experience, as the doctor took x-rays with this x-ray arm thing while he was injecting my foot.  I was instructed to go out and do whatever I would normally do that day.

“Normally” is such an interesting thing.  What is normal?  Seeing as it was New Year’s Eve, I wore heels.  I had not worn heels in months.  The injection made my foot feel infinitely better, and I was able to wear heels all night NYE, and I was able to go to two yoga classes the next week – on Monday and on Friday. I was at about 70% for the yoga classes, but I was so happy to be active, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working out and how much I had missed it.  I returned to MUSC on Monday, January 12, 2015, and Dr. MUSC injected my ankle joint with ropivocaine, to see if injecting the ankle joint would also result in improvement.  The actual injection did not hurt, but a few hours after the injection, the pain increased drastically.  By Tuesday morning, I was unable to walk.  Dr. MUSC said he performed hundreds of injections a year, and that he could not remember the last time an injection had increased a patient’s pain.

It is my belief that I further injured my ankle wearing heels and going to the two yoga classes, and that the ankle injection just happened to be at the same time. I was prescribed mobic and ultram, but I only took the ultram at night because it made me feel weird. The pain was severe enough the second and third week of January that Dr. MUSC put me in a hard walking cast for three weeks.

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Dr. MUSC took my cast off on February 22, 2015, and told me that he was not confident enough about my diagnosis to operate, and he referred me to OrthoCarolina for another opinion.  I had to wait until March 22 for an appointment, and the pain forced me to continue wearing the boot.

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2015 – So Far, So Fail – Part I

Twenty-Fourteen was a great year overall.  Twenty-Fifteen needs an attitude adjustment.  I know I promised to write all the blogs I missed in 2014, and I actually have a great one that I am almost finished with, but 2015 is so loud right now that I’m unable to focus on the past.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015, the day after MLK holiday.  Sunny dry conditions.

Downtown Charleston.

My work desk at home overlooks a residential street that borders a more commercial area.  I live where the slate sidewalks end, and I spend my days watching College of Charleston kids ride by on skateboards and bikes.  I observe my neighbors on their routine to and fro, with or without their children and dogs.  There is the greyhound who wears a jacket when it is cold, and he seems to skip with delight when wearing the jacket, either from the cold or from the sheer pleasure of being stylish.  I like to people watch, and I’ve never been able to resist attaching make believe characteristics to people I see every day but know nothing about.

4 pm, I’m sitting at my desk at home, furiously trying to finish a project before a 5 pm meeting.  I hear tires squeal and a crash.  I momentarily consider walking down stairs and investigating, but with my walking air cast boot (See Part II) and my impending deadline, I decide to fight the ADHD and stay at my desk.  I finish my project and take Briscoe outside around 4:45, at which point I discover that not only was there a car wreck, the car wreck involved my parked car.  I peer pressured Briscoe into hastily finishing her business, and I whisked her back upstairs.  Briscoe did not appreciate her afternoon stroll being cut short, and headbutted my knee and pretended like she might bite me once we got back inside.  I called Philippa to tell her I was unable to drive to our Florence Crittenton meeting, and she was nice enough to come pick me up.

Back out on the street, I see that the gold jeep liberty that hit my car is entirely stuffed with, including a piece of luggage spilling into the cab from the backseat, along with a tall boy aluminum can wrapped in a paper bag in the console.  The airbag is visible on first glance, but the responding office told me that it was a pillow, as he pulled numerous curious objects from the front seats of the car.  These objects included a panhandling sign that said – HOMELESS – OUT OF WORK – ANYTHING HELPS, numerous empty 24 ounce cans of Four Lokos and Icehouse, empty liquor bottles of what appeared to be gin or vodka, along with numerous needles and a black dish that was about the size of an ashtray.  I took a few pictures because I have no self control and I’m an interested party.

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The driver was still in the car when the police rolled up, and he was in the back of the cruiser by the time I got there.   I literally could not, because I had somewhere to be, so I gave my driver’s license and insurance card to the responding officer, who promised to put the accident report and my driver’s license in my mail box, and I hopped in the car with Philippa.

After two hours of meetings, and then a decompression dinner with wine, I arrived home around 9 pm to find that there was no accident report or license in the mailbox.  A few phone calls later, the responding officer tells me that he is at the hospital with the driver, that things are crazy, but that he will bring me my license and the accident report within the hour.  10 pm rolls around, and I start to get a little concerned.  I texted my new police friend at 10:15, and he tells me he is on the way.  10:30 pm finds me on my front porch, in my pajamas, talking to a police officer about how the man who slammed into my car tried to hide his drugs where the sun doesn’t shine, and how they had to take him to the hospital for x-rays and extraction.  The good news was that the driver hit the stop sign, and possibly a few other things, before he hit my car, and that this was his fourth DUI, so he would be in jail indefinitely.  The other good news was that it was his girlfriend’s car, and that they thought she had insurance.  The bad news that they had no current location on the girlfriend.

This was all a lot to process, and these sorts of things are always better left to worry about tomorrow.  The following day I had my car looked at by various body shops, and I discovered that the name of the car owner was incorrect on the accident report.  After an inordinate amount of back and fourth with Allstate, and a conversation with my new police friend, I learned the owner girlfriend’s actual name, and I discovered that yes, she did have insurance at some point in time, but that her policy was cancelled in October 2014 for non-payment.

My insurance claims man acted like the fact that the policy had been cancelled in October was the greatest news ever, because he was convinced that if the girlfriend DID have insurance, that allstate would deny the claim because the accident was in the commission of a crime.  And if there was NO insurance, I could use my uninsured motorist coverage, with a $200 deductible, but if it was denied because it was in the commission of a crime, that I would be forced to use my collision insurance, which has a $1000 deductible.  Just to be clear, my undergraduate degree is in Risk Management and Insurance, and I went to Law School, I am a member of two bar associates, including the state where this accident happened.  All of this was news to me, along with sounding unreasonable, totally insane, and confusing.  I pretty much just nodded and smiled and acted like I understood.  South Carolina, if it is in fact true that my uninsured motorist coverage is not triggered in the scenario of my car being damaged by an insured crime committing moron whose coverage is invalidated by his crime, then I don’t understand the policy reasons for uninsured motorist coverage.  Isn’t every uninsured motorist committing a crime?  Isn’t having valid liability insurance required by law?  If this is true, I call bullshit.  If I had the time or the effort available I would do some case law research to discover the validity of my insurance company’s claim.  However, since this loophole did not actually apply to me, and because I have a lot of ridiculousness to worry about right this second, I’m going to leave this question to the professionals.

Since this time, my car has been delivered to the repair shop, and I discovered that the driver’s girlfriend got a DUI in early January 2015, but since it was her first offense, she got out fairly quickly.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about these people. One insurance person that I spoke to said that she would be FURIOUS if this happened to her.  I thought this was interesting.  Because I’m not furious.  I’m really not even mad.  I would be mad if I had to pay $1000 deductible, but I don’t.  I’m disappointed that my fairly new car has lost value, but it’s a car, and that’s what insurance is for, right?  More than anything, it just makes me sad.  It makes me sad that this idiot would stand on a street corner, playing on the heart strings of the privileged but feel guilty about it, only to turn around and use the money to buy drugs and four loko and get behind the wheel and endanger the rest of us.  At 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.  But I’m even more sad for whoever is on the receiving end of the phone call they make from jail.

I remember one time in Athens, Christy and I were sitting outside of the Globe, eating hamburgers and enjoying our drink of choice (Christy was probably drinking rum and diet coke with no ice and I was probably drinking a tall paulaner), and she gave a panhandler $5, and I said, “Christy!  You know he’s just going to go buy booze!” and she said, “Yeah, but that was what I was going to do with it, so whatever.”  Christy had a really excellent point, and since that time I don’t begrudge a panhandler spending some of his money on booze.  But I’m deeply troubled that incredibly intoxicated individuals are driving cars through my neighborhood at 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.   4 am on a Friday is one thing, 4 pm on a Tuesday is a whole different beast.

Next thing you know I’m going to be standing on my front porch with a shotgun yelling at kids to get the hell off my lawn.

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2014

In the past, I have tried to write a recap post around the new year, but this year I have been so super slack about posting in general that I’m going to go back and write a series of blog posts that I should have written throughout the year. This is my new year’s resolution. I want to commit to 12 posts – one for each month, but I think that might set me up for failure, so I’m true commitment problem/inability to handle structure fashion I will refrain from being specific about this goal. I’m going to think real hard and try to focus on some fun things that happened that I didn’t get around to posting about, and throw in some books and movies and tv shows I enjoyed. TBD. Overall, 2014 was an excellent year. Happy New Year, I hope 2015 is joyous for us all!

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Happy Birthday Briscoe-dog!

This is a couple of days late, but since Briscoe doesn’t have a cell phone* or know how to use the internet**, I’m hoping she doesn’t notice.  Also, this can be a throw back Thursday, or Briscoe’s Greatest Hits.

HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY TO THE FLUFFIEST, HAPPIEST, GREATEST, MOST BIG-HEADED DOG IN THE WORLD!  Thanks for being my best friend and favorite creature.

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*She doesn’t have a cell phone because she is broke because she doesn’t have a job.

**She doesn’t know how to use the internet because she doesn’t have thumbs and she sucks at typing.

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I wrote a lot of this post in August, but then I got nitpicky and didn’t publish it.  I’ve kept the date I originally wrote it to keep the blog in sequential order, but it wasn’t finally published until January 9, 2015. 

(Napa Valley generally, assume St. Helena specifically unless otherwise noted)

My dear friend Philippa invited myself and two other great friends, Carla and Valerie, to accompany her home to St. Helena California for a long weekend this summer. Philippa had a wedding, and this was going to be one of numerous trips home in 2014, and she thought it could be fun to combine the wedding weekend with a girl’s trip to the wine country.

Truthfully, my responsible self felt that I had already exhausted my reasonable allotment of vacation time and money for 2014. However, my justification self remembered that several plans had been cancelled in 2013 due to ankle problems, and that I had sworn that I would do all the fun things in 2014, after five months being in a boot in 2013. Additionally, as a life rule, such exceptional invitations should always be accepted with glee.

California is a spot I have been meaning to visit for most of my life. To date, I have had a dearth of travel experiences west of Utah. I went to Hawaii in college, but I’m not sure that really counts. Somehow I always get caught in the mountains of Colorado.

We flew out of Charleston early Thursday morning, August 8th. Everyone else arrived at SFO around noon PST. I got stuck in the Dulles airport with mechanical issues, arriving in SFO around 8 pm PST, and ubered to the restaurant on Yountville, just when everyone else was finishing dinner. It was a wonderful weekend full of friends, wine, laughter, and sunshine. Without further ado –

Things I learned in Napa

1. Everyone who lives in St. Helena is involved in wine making. Small vintners, medium vintners, real estate agents, grape growers, landowners, wine sellers – the list of participants is vast.

2. Everyone involved in winemaking has a strong science and agricultural background. They have undergraduate degrees in biology for UC-fill in the blank, with a masters in Agra-genetic engineering from UC-pick a different one. It’s amazing, and impressive, and makes for excellent wine fueled Agra-science lessons about fault lines and soil density, runoff, and the importance of sunlight differentiation depending on the slope. I FEEL smarter. I LOVE agra-business.

3. I actually made up the degree of Agra-genetic engineering, but I did learn that grapes come in different hybrids, many of which were brought over from France, with cool names like Dijon 809. That’s not a mustard folks! It’s a grape! (actually, I think Dijon is a region of France, but Dijon 809 is a grape)  I had no idea. Previously, the entirety of my grape knowledge consisted of the fact that white wine could be made with red grape, sans skin.

4. People in Napa have strong ties to the wine regions of France. There are a lot of French people who moved to Napa to work in the wine industry, and all the Napa people have spent time in the French wine areas.

5. Everyone who has a dog and works at a vineyard brings their dog to work with them. There were dogs everywhere. It was awesome. Briscoe sniffed everything in my bag when I returned home with great disdain.

6. It is possible to cook quinoa in a manner that is both delicious and satisfying. I thought this to be a lie, perpetuated by veggie loving communists, and I only ate the quinoa because it seemed to be the culturally expected thing to do in California, expecting to take a few polite bites and move on, but I ended up having seconds. I need to get that recipe and figure out this magical trick.

7. When wine is aging in barrels, a noticeable amount evaporates, so the barrels have to topped off occasionally. The evaporated portion is called the “angel’s share”.

8. The state of California does not allow shark tagging because there are a bunch of activists who are against this project.  This is sad, because Mary Lee, Katharine, and Ocearch have taught me a lot about sharks.

9. The Napa Valley Vintner’s association is something like the tourist bureau and better business bureau all wrapped up in a beautiful barn like office made of reclaimed timber. Bernadette would be proud. Part of being a member of NVV involves donating a barrel to one of the annual auctions, Auction Napa Valley and Premier Napa Valley. A barrel is 25 cases of wine, or 300 bottles. The proceeds from Auction Napa Valley provide funding for healthcare and education for the entire region, especially for migrant workers and their families.  I think this is totally amazing.

10.  In Napa, you need a different set of clothing depending on whether you are standing in the sun or in the shade.  (From the brief time I spent in San Francisco, you need a coat all the time, especially in the summer.)

11. Wine out of the barrel is delicious, as are grapes off the vine.  I expected grapes off the vine to be bitter, but I found them to be extremely pleasant.

12.  I am too old to do backhand springs, even on a trampoline.  I should never do another backhand spring, ever again, under any circumstances, regardless of how springy the ground beneath me happens to be.

13.  According to Pavi’s daughters, Eliana and Alessia, my southern accent is significantly more pronounced in the morning, when I have just woken up.  I can only assume this is because I have yet to hear myself in comparison to the other people around me, and I am not yet awake enough to possess the mental capacity to enunciate properly.  I thought this was an interesting observation.  I’m aware I modify my speech when I am in places where I can hear myself, I guess I just never thought about at what part of the day I made the modification.

14.  If you are out to dinner with a person you do not know very well, and everyone has been drinking wine for the greater part of the day, and the person you do not know asks you a question about an important decision they are about to make, or not make, you should not give emphatic advice on the subject.  Regardless of how convicted you are on there being no question as to the proper choice, just stop talking.  STOP. TALKING.

15.  Chickens can easily mistake a wine glass for a food container.  Freshly gathered eggs do not require refrigeration, but that does not mean you should take the eggs out to dinner with you.  Eggs make poor dinner companions.

16.  Any time after 10 pm is late in Napa.  The days are too glorious to not get up early.

17.   I’m determined to work harvest next year.

 

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Adventures in Car Buying

I returned home from a summer study abroad in Rome, Italy, to discover my father had sold my first car in my absence. The year was 2000, and I was 19 years old. The car in question was named “Lucky”, and it was a silver 1989 mercedes station wagon, with blue interior, and hundreds of thousands of miles. It was also affectionately referred to as the “grocery getter” and the “shaggin’ wagon” and it had lived a rough life.  The previous year, I was without a car for more than two months because the air conditioner exploded and somehow damaged the engine. Did you know this was possible?  I did not.  The poor thing was on it’s last leg, but it was my first car, and I loved it, and my dad sold it back to his friend that we bought it from, because as much as I loved that car, the previous owner loved it more, and I needed something more reliable. A new car sounded like fun, and I did a lot of research about what sort of car I wanted, and I talked to my dad about the different options available. This was the year 2000, the stock market was booming, my brother had a full football scholarship, and I had a few pretty great academic scholarships that paid my full tuition and a large chunk of my room and board, and we both lived in Athens, one of the cheapest places in America. My dad wrote me a cashiers check for what still seems like a ton of money, and he told me to go buy a car.   At first, this seemed reasonable, and I was pleased by this empowering moment of trust and responsibility. Although my dad refused to go car shopping with me, my mom was allowed to go.  Kate and I quickly decided that buying a car was not actually that much fun.  Then I found a car that I was madly in love with, that was the same amount as the hot little cashiers check burning a hole in my pocket.  I was suddenly having a lot more fun.  Then they told me that I had to pay for the license and registration fee, I think it was something like $200.  This seemed like a pittance compared to the cashier’s check, and I should add that at the age of 19 I had yet to learn the value of a dollar. I called my dad from the dealership, and told him that I had found a car, but that I needed $200 for the license and registration.  He laughed at me, and told me that I did not have $200, that all I had was the amount of the cashiers check.  My mom already had her checkbook out, and it was like my dad could hear this through the phone, and after a pause he added, tell your mom she doesn’t have $200 either.  This made me very unhappy, and I’m sure I started whining, because it seemed so stupid to not get this car that I’d already fallen madly in love with because of a measly $200. And from the other end of the phone, my dad said, “Listen, you have a check in hand for the amount of money they want for that car, and if they aren’t willing to cover the license and registration fee, then they must not be very interested in selling the car.  Tell them that you don’t have $200 dollars, that the check is all the money you have, and walk out of the door. There are other cars in the world.” Horrified, I hung up the phone, and looked the sales person in the eye, and I told her that I, sadly, did not have $200 to cover the license and registration, and that I was sorry I couldn’t buy the car.  I know that none of you will be shocked to learn that the dealership did not allow me and my cashiers check to leave that day, and that the dealership covered the $200 license and registration.  I learned a valuable lesson about buying cars, and negotiating, and about my general ability deficit for both. I drove away from the dealership in that car, and I loved that car.  I loved that car for more than ten years, for the entire decade of my 20s.  The silver bullet and I had some good times together, we got arrested together, we took trips to DC, Alabama, Tennesssee, Florida, Kentucky, all through both Carolinas and all over Georgia, and drove out to Colorado and spent a glorious summer driving through the mountains.  The silver bullet died during my first year in Charleston, a year riff with the financial strain of owning a house in one city but living in another, an appendectomy, a new job, and a new life.  I was not in the best of places when I was forced to buy a new car – financially, mentally, socially – and I did not employ any of the lessons I learned in my previous buying experience.  At the very least, I knew that I wasn’t in the best position to negotiate, and I signed a three year lease on a Rav4 that at the bare minimum I could afford to pay.  I feel confident I overpaid thousands of dollars in that lease, and I regret not having the energy to stand up for myself in the car buying process.  The Rav4 and I had bad timing.  I was clearly not over the emotional attachment of my previous car relationship, and I resented the Rav4 as a necessary evil, and an inadequate replacement. The past three years have gone by shockingly quickly, and all areas of my life are now on much more stable ground.  Armed with my newly recovered confidence and drastically improved credit score, I was damned and determined to fully participate in the car buying experience and not let anyone push me around. I park on the street, and I work from home three days a week, and my office is less than fifteen minutes from my house.  I do not spend a ton of time in my car, and I do not park it in a particularly “secure” location, like say, a garage.  Or a driveway.  I planned on taking my time with this whole car buying thing, and I went to lots of different dealerships, and I test drove lots of different cars. I called my bank and had them pre-approve me for a car loan, to get an idea of what sort of interest rate I could get.  I finally found a car I really liked, that was within the price range of what I felt I should spend given the above mentioned factors, taking into consideration the other ways I might rather spend my money.  It was a 2012 Honda CR-V, with 23k miles, and lots of fun stuff that I really didn’t even know were options on cars.  And I liked the sales person, she was nice, seemed sincere, did not waste my time, and gave me a clear cut picture of the bottom line. Because I promised myself that I would not over react, but instead take my time and investigate all of my options, I left that Honda dealership (Hendrick), and I drove to the other Honda dealership (Stokes).  It seemed like the thing to do, me being such a savvy shopper and everything.  Things did not go so well at the second dealership. I walked in, I told them how much I wanted to spend on a car, I told them three things I needed the car to have, and what sort of credit score I thought I could obtain.  A sales girl who was trying very hard but who clearly had ZERO authority or knowledge showed me about twenty different cars, none of which had a price on the sticker, and she was able to tell me the price of maybe two out the twenty. She told me she used to sell cosmetics, but that she recently started selling cars.  I was not shocked by this statement. She easily wasted an hour of my time walking around the lot looking for something she rarely found. Then we went inside, and I sat at a desk for a good 45 minutes while she tried to get the prices on the cars, during which time she asked me who else would be helping me buy the car.  Seeing as how I was there alone, and had made no mention of anyone else helping me buy the car, and since I had discussed what I anticipated spending, etc, it is not clear to me why she assumed someone else would be helping me buy the car, but it definitely threw me off.  Later I found it to be insulting.  I’m a grown ass adult, I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m also an attorney for you take me seriously.  I may have left out the part about being attorney at all the dealerships, because it really shouldn’t matter, I should be taken seriously anyway. Then, a man came in with three pieces of paper, listing the prices for three different cars.  One car was $4k more than how much I said I wanted to spend, one was $5k more, and the third was $7K more.   I looked at the man, and I told him that all three of the cars were outside of my price range, and I repeated to him my price range, and my car criteria. He then said he would be right back, and disappeared.  Fifteen minutes later, another man returned, with the same three print outs.  He told me that these were the cars that were available, and that if I was worried about the price, that I should get a 72 month loan, because that way I could actually get what I wanted. I wanted to tell him that even though my finance education is limited, that a 72 month loan on a depreciating asset didn’t sound like a deal to me. Or that if I was going to buy a car at that price, it wouldn’t be a Honda CR-V (apologies to all the CR-Vs out there, you really are a lovely little car).  Instead, I told him that what I actually wanted was a car at my stated price, and not one that cost $7k more. I told him of the car from the other dealership, the year, model, mileage, price. He disappeared. The first man returned ten minutes after that, with a print out from the internet of the cars matching my description in the local area, and explained to me that there was no way that the other dealership could have given me such a price, and that the car I was describing did not exist.  I told him I was not going to argue with him about what happened to me earlier that day. I repeated my car buying criteria, calmly and firmly, and I asked him if he had a car like that to sell me.  He said, no, and then launched into another pitch about the three cars on the print outs.  I cut him off, and I said, Okay.  And I think he thought I meant, okay, I would buy one of his stupid cars, because his face lit up momentarily, while I was taking a deep breath to keep my head from exploding.  After head exploding preventative deep breath, I said, “I’m sorry you do not have a car available that meets my criteria, I appreciate your time.”  I shook his hand, and the hand of the clueless sales woman, and I left.    Furious. I honestly was not aware that I could be insulted so many different ways in such a short period of time.  I’m willing to admit I may have a bit of a chip on my shoulder due to the fact that I feel like I was taken advantage of on the Rav4, but really, I think what upset me the most is that a lot of these tactics would have worked on me, in a different setting, at a different time, and I found this rather frightening. I felt targeted, that if I hadn’t been a youngish woman, I would have been treated very differently.  I felt like I had just been on the worst date of my life, or like I just got out of the worst interview of my life (both of which were harrowing experiences). I ended up going back to other Honda dealership, and getting that car.  I even negotiated them into paying for the closing costs, which felt like a huge win, and like a sign that I’d picked the right car, the right dealership.  Now if I can only get the stupid Toyota dealership to call me back and tell what the F I’m suppose to do with this RAV4 I don’t need anymore.  I feel like I’m sending the Rav back into foster care.  It really wasn’t a bad car, but our relationship was doomed from the start.  I have high hopes for my new car relationship, I think we are going to be happy together for the foreseeable future.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently.  Partially because I’ve been reading Lilibet’s book, and partially because I’ve been reading a lot of everything recently.  I know I’ve said it before, but I love to read, and I like to write.  I got the new Kindle recently, just the regular paperwhite, without the 3G.  This replaced the nook I have had forever.  My nook was the most basic and original nook, and we had a good run.  She still turns on, but the battery dies randomly, and when it dies, it reverts back to the factory settings and demands to have a software update before it will do anything useful like download a book, which is frankly unacceptable.   I obtained my first ipad, ever, this past Christmas, and I did a lot of reading on the ipad, however, the ipad is absolutely not summertime activity friendly, plus, reading on lit screens at night is suppose to cause insomnia.

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This is where I was going to sit and eat my lunch.

I have been on an intense reading kick*, and I’ve been checking books out from the library on my kindle.  Checking library books out on my kindle makes me happier than I can adequately express.  The tricky part though, is that you have to wait in line for certain books, and then you only have 14 days to read them before you have to give them back.  This is excellent justification for why I might have to stay home and finish a book instead of going out and interacting with real people.  Anne Helen Peterson (who I have a serious crush on) has an excellent article on the subject of obsessive reading.  It never occurs to me to stay home and write, and it is much more difficult for me to get lost in writing than in reading.  

My desire to write has more to do with this deep seated belief that we all need a creative outlet, a strange fear of being exclusively a consumer, and because it feels like something that I should be doing. My fear of being a consumer is not rational and does not apply to any other area of my life.  If it did, I would be compelled to be a member of the church choir and have a vegetable garden and take an art class and cook a lot more than I do.  It’s not like I’ve never done these things, I have, and I enjoyed them.

I am not under any delusions that I will ever write a novel or that my writing is adding significantly to the world. My love of reading is deeply ingrained, it is my primary mental escape, and I sincerely appreciate writers.  I guess it is similar to the intense desire of a foodie to learn how to cook, or the little kid that is obsessed with the Braves who goes out for little league, or the kid obsessed with whatever broadway musical is currently cool trying out for the school play.

I also think of it as an exercise in self reflection, and that the exercise in and of itself improves me as a person.  Sort of like jogging, or yoga, or any athletic endeavor makes your body feel stronger and better, writing improves my mentality.  My real job is almost exclusively writing, but it’s a different sort of writing.  It’s easy to blame my lack of writing to the fact that I write all day at work, but work doesn’t prevent me from writing insanely long emails on a daily basis and texting and gchatting for hours at a time, so this is pretty flimsy excuse.

I recently obtained a childhood psychological evaluation of 11 year old Charlsie.  I can not tell you how entertaining it is to read psych evaluations of your childhood self.  The test results document that at some point in my education I mastered the ability to read, while failing to learn how to write, and that by the fifth grade, I was reading at a 12th grade level, and I was writing at a 2nd grade level. Apparently this is a significant discrepancy in ability.   I was noted to have something called a “performance deficit” as opposed to a learning disability, attributable to my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that inhibited my ability to attend to details and to organize my thoughts for effective transfer to paper.  

From what I can tell, this means I couldn’t write worth a damn.  It’s almost hilarious that I now essentially write papers for a living. Eventually, I learned how to write (I think). I passed two bar exams, and they let me graduate from law school, so that’s encouraging. I remember fifth grade being a particularly difficult grade, but I remember most grades being difficult until I got to high school.  

Sometimes I wonder how difficult my life would be if I was unable to use a computer and I was dependent on my handwriting for written communication.  I see a good bit of childhood disability applications, and I read a lot of school records and psych evaluations and achievement testing results.  I think people get confused about how difficult it is to learn how to read and write, and don’t appreciate that everyone learns differently and at a different pace. Most of us learned how to read and write at an age where it felt effortless, and we can’t remember the actual struggle required to master the skills. (I’m not going to talk about math, because, ugh, let’s just not talk about it.  Unless you want to talk about Geometry, which I loved, because it involved words.)

It’s like driving a car, or riding a bike.  I recently brought my bike back to Charleston from Augusta, where my bike had been living.  I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time, and I’m deathly afraid of getting hit by a car.  But, growing up, I rode my bike everywhere for years, and I felt great satisfaction in my ability to navigate intersections and balance and take on curbs and gnarly sidewalks, and it did not frighten me.  I stopped riding my bike when I learned how to drive.  Learning how to drive was a skill I put off as long as possible.  I made excuses for why I didn’t want to drive, I was scared of my mom’s car, I was tired, I would start driving tomorrow. But the truth was driving scared the everliving daylights out of me, and I didn’t want to learn how to drive.  I wanted to be the DJ in the front seat. I remember having a particularly hard time with right turns, which is real stupid.  I thought left turns were easier.  I also had a complete inability to back out of a driveway.  

I’m still not clear how I passed my driver’s test, but I did, and then I had a pretty terrific wreck six months later involving, of course, a right turn.  Now, I consider myself an excellent driver, I haven’t had a significant wreck since that ill fated right turn in the spring of 1997, and I’m having to re-teach myself my biking skills and re-gain that confidence. Learning how to read, write, ride a bike, and drive a car tend to be pretty mandatory life skills.  But if they weren’t mandatory, I might have turned out to be an excellent reader who couldn’t write and had to walk everywhere.  I wonder what other skills I might possess if they were mandatory.

*My recent literary consumption includes: The Abominable, The Secret History, Into Thin Air (I’ve been super obsessed with Everest as of late), The Bone Season, Play Dead, Box Girl, The Handmaid’s Tale, We Were Liars, Me Before You, and I just started The Vacationers.  I tried to read The 5th Wave, but I found it too depressing.  I think I may be over dystopia for the foreseeable future.

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