Log in

No account? Create an account
current entries friends' entries archives about me Previous Previous Next Next
the story of an invisible girl
Changes and Moving On
Sometimes change creeps up on you, without your ever noticing. Let's use a purely hypothetical example here: sometimes a favorite sweater gradually changes from being, "This is my favorite sweater because I look good in it!", to being, "This is one of my favorite sweaters because it's always been a favorite."

One day you are putting on your favorite sweater, and you notice that it doesn't hang right. The hem is all uneven, and each time you pull it into the right place the stripe across the chest becomes a little more v-shaped. And the sleeves aren't quite long enough nor tight enough.

Maybe you wear it to work anyway, because after all it's one of your favorite sweaters. And the stripes around the elbows have always looked cool, and the colors... well the colors used to be crisper. But they are a good color combination, which makes up -- okay it almost makes up for the fact that it's fitting rather oddly.

Each time you spot your reflection in the mirror it gives you pause. Could a favorite sweater really be so unflattering? You tug at it, trying to force it back into its once-attractive look. It resists. You frown at it.

This is beginning to sound a bit less than hypothetical, I suppose. This evening I retired one of my favorite sweaters. I took it off and tossed it in the trash. It was time. No, it was past time. It's just been through too many washes, too many wears, too many journeys, and it simply doesn't look good anymore. It used to! It's a shame, because I've been fond of it for a long time.

Oh well... good bye little sweater. Thanks for all the good times.


Sometimes change doesn't creep up on you; it hits you hard enough to force you to take notice. Even when you are completely occupied with other matters. Let's use another less-than-hypothetical example: a car accident. You are calmly driving through life, and you have a reliable vehicle which is completely paid off. Until, one day -- it simply isn't yours anymore. Smashed up beyond repair, your insurance adjuster explains that "We'd have to cut your car in half in order to fix it, and that's just not good for cars," so she gives you a check instead.

Not, of course, a new car. Not even a new-car-sized check. Just a piece of paper, some apologies, and some sincere well-wishes.

Unfortunately cars are not like sweaters. They aren't quite as disposable -- I don't have plenty of others floating around, and in Detroit I can't simply do without. So I've embarked on a new-to-me-car hunt. Actually I'm not even sure yet if I'd like a new car or a used one. There are advantages to both, and I guess it really comes down to how much money I want to spend.

The important thing that I'm remembering here is: at least I'm okay. Dealing with buying a car is a whole lot easier than dealing with hospitalization or other such awfulness. Sure it's inconvenient and stressful, but things could have been much much worse. I was fond of that car, but it took the fall for me. For that I'm grateful.

Oh well... good bye little car. Thanks for all the good times.


Tags: ,

read 13 comments | talk to me!
mbumby From: mbumby Date: January 19th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
(Oh, don't put it in the trash! Donate it to Salvation Army or something like that. Someone without a sweater might love to pay 50 cents for it, even if it doesn't make them look smashing.)
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 19th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually I normally donate used items to charity, but honestly this one doesn't seem worth it. It's stretched out of shape, too wide and too short, the neck is weirdly wide and crooked, and it's not even particularly warm. I have donated other sweaters, and will again...in fact I have a pile of clothes I've been gathering up, that needs to go somewhere. So thanks for the reminder. (:
ellison From: ellison Date: January 19th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I felt sad saying goodbye to my car when it was totaled in an accident, too. But that end part is so very true - it's nice to come away unscathed. Good luck with your car hunt!

And I second the salvation army or Goodwill donation idea from the above commenter.
dagibbs From: dagibbs Date: January 19th, 2007 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Hope you find a new-to-you car of the appropriate type soonish. How long will they rent you a car?

And... climbing still on for Wednesday? See you at 'Fusion?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 19th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I'll be there tonight! I don't know how long. And for wednesday, let's leave it at "probably".

All out of order, sorry... *grin*
From: writerwench Date: January 19th, 2007 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, that's so SAD! Sorry, I get really attached to cars, it's very silly of me. My student daughter totalled our old, often-needing-expensive-repairs, but very beloved Escort Estate back in October, and like me she was incredibly sad that she'd 'killed' our car. Although it hadn't had a name until then, suddenly it was called 'Poor Jud' (I'm sure you know the Oklahoma reference)... but it was only one corner that was smashed up, the rest of the car was just fine, if only they'd been willing to fix the front axle and replace the wing and ... no, it really was NOT WORTH FIXING. But from behind it still looked fine.

I think the sadness is a reaction to the broader recognition that things, like people, DO wear out, and the time comes when they are simply no longer filling their function and must be replaced.

Thanks for the reminder, I have a binbag full of old clothes for the charity shop, and another full of rags for the recycling...

Your car looks really nice. Could you get a second-hand same model replacement? Any suggestions for models from me would be silly because I'm in London, England, so I know only the cars available here, and English roads are so different to American - we have so many bends and narrow bits! I've driven many different cars in my time, though. I'd love to have a Mark I Renault Espace again, but with perfect electrics, simply because they're a dream to drive, they're very economical, and incredibly versatile.

Hey ho...
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 19th, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know, I get attached too. That's why I took a bunch of goodbye pictures.

I liked my car, but honestly I feel this one is cursed, or (since I'm not actually superstitious) at least I think I'll feel more comfortable in something different. (Four years ago I was in another accident, and I replaced that car with the very same one, this one. Not again! I don't even want the same color.)

From: writerwench Date: January 19th, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, right, well in that case... it depends entirely on what your lifestyle requires, but I'd look very closely at reliability and a good driving position/seat comfort for a female. A lot of cars I've driven have been obviously designed for long-legged men, and the seat belts have driven me NUTS constantly creeping up around my neck.

I'm a bit odd with cars... I like things like the Renault Five and the Mark 1 Renault Espace, because they're such design/style icons and so distinctive, but probably in the USA any import would be pricey to maintain/repair/replace bits on. I'm incredibly lucky to have a very good, very honest young car mechanic just around the corner, who keeps my vehicles in good nick, but without one of them, it's always a worry.
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: January 19th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Kibbitzing like a fiend

There are advantages to both, and I guess it really comes down to how much money I want to spend.

I hope you don't find it rude of me to ask, but if you were to buy, for example, a $17,000 car, how would you get the extra $8,500? There's a big difference, in my opinion, between shelling out that kind of cash from savings, and taking out a loan to cover it.

The price of a loan can be even higher than it seems. For example:
  • Loan for $8,500
  • 3.4% APR interest
  • 36 months
  • $250 per month
  • $450 interest paid over life of loan
BUT, if you were to save that money:
  • $250 per month
  • 36 months
  • 4.5% APR interest (really)
  • $9650 at end of three years
So what you actually pay, including opportunity costs, for the $8,500 loan is $1,600! That's almost 20%!

So, if you would have to finance part of the price of a new car, I'd say go used. If you can afford to pay cash for a new car, then the issue is more debateable. Then it's a question of the hassle-factor, IMO. (New cars are less of a hassle than used cars. I'll probably babble about this more in a later entry.)
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 19th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kibbitzing like a fiend

I could afford to pay cash if I wanted to (depending on how pricey the car actually was...)

The funny thing is that I was at the Saturn dealership yesterday, telling them to quote me a price for cash. They told me they are offering 0% apr incentive right now. Or $500 cash. I told them I wanted the cash, but they pointed out to me that by keeping my money and investing it, I could actually make MORE than they were offering.

It was weird to me, that taking out a loan could save me money. I have an old-fashioned mindset. Only buy what I can afford, avoid credit. But there you have it.
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: January 19th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kibbitzing like a fiend

I have an old-fashioned mindset. Only buy what I can afford, avoid credit.

Put that on a badge and wear it with pride.

Now, the promised additional babbling:

Any car, as it garners miles and years, will take more repairs than a new car. Things like brakes and alternators and clutches (if the car has one) just wear out over time and have to be replaced/repaired.

However, in general, the costs of those repairs is less than the cost of a new car. BUT there is the aforementioned "hassle-factor."

Getting your car repaired, or repairing it yourself, is a hassle. Find a mechanic, or finding the parts, scheduling the time, being without the car, etcetcetc, can be a royal PITA. This is why I traded in my Jeep and got my Corolla--the Jeep was requiring more and more repair, and while they were typically fairly cheap, the hassle of doing them or getting them done was more than I was willing to deal with.

Based on that experience, I guesstimate that most cars hassle-factors become significant after 8-10 years.

Since you can pay cash ("Good on yer!"), the financial question of new v. used is less significant. I think the more important question is the hassle-factor. If you have a high tolerance for hassle, then buy used. If you don't, then buy either new, or recently used (less than 3 years old).

Of course, since you get the Detroit Discount on new cars, a two-year-old used car is not going to be much of a bargain over new.

Anyway, to 'splain--no, there is too much. Let me sum up:

New car
  • Higher price
  • More depreciation
  • Low initial hassle
  • Longer time until hassle
  • Timely features (e.g., CD player that plays MP3s)
  • Less overall features, though
  • Detroit Discount increases value
  • Better selection
  • Warranty (though, how often do you really need that?)
Used car
  • Lower price
  • Less depreciation
  • Higher hassle
  • More features (by getting an older, more depreciated car)
  • Better performance and/or comfort (by getting older...)
  • Less selection
  • Established reputation for reliability (or not)
(Have I mentioned how much I enjoy all this? If my kibbitizing starts to bug you, just ignore me, or tell me to stop. I understand.)

Anyway, so what are your priorities? How important are features, the hassle-factor and selection compared to price?
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: January 19th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kibbitzing like a fiend

I was at the Saturn dealership yesterday

Have you checked out the Ford Focus yet? Specifically the 2007 Ford Focus ZX3 SE 2dr Hatchback? (The hatchback is soo much cuter than the other models, IMO.) Comparing the specs of that and the Ion on Edmunds.com, the Focus looks like the winner.

Better gas mileage, less overall emissions, and more features. The Ford will cost more to get an automatic transmission, but will get you:
  • variable intermittent wipers (trust me--this matters)
  • Remote power door locks
  • Power outside mirrors
  • Power windows
  • Standard AC
  • Driver seat-height adjustment
Assuming you want a new car. That's still up in the air, as far as I know.
From: writerwench Date: January 19th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kibbitzing like a fiend

My mum has a Focus automatic, four years old. It's ... okay. Well equipped, works fine, nice driving position, yadda yadda, CD and aircon and stuff... nothing actually WRONG with it, but I had to drive it for a while last summer and it BORED me. It was a YAWN car. Especially compared to my Renault 5!

A Focus estate with a proper roofrack, now. That might appeal. But that's my personal preference - I haul a lot of stuff around from time to time.
read 13 comments | talk to me!