Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Save me from myself

So, I know I have already bought a pair of red shoes. I know I am trying to save money, and shoes are frivolous. But, I have a confession: I love shoes. I know, this is hardly a shocking revelation: women are supposed to love shoes. But for many years I hated shoes. I have wide feet, and fancy shoes hurt.

But in recent years, I've noticed that shoes are getting wider. Many companies now make wide shoes, and in some brands the mediums fits me fine, especially if it's a round toe shoe. My shoe craving has been given free rein pretty much since I've lived in New York, and I've enjoyed it mightily. OK, maybe not free rein, since after all, I will never spend hundreds of dollars on a single pair of shoes. Plus, really expensive shoes still hurt.

So, there I was, looking at my already-purchased red shoes. They are fine. They fit all my requirements. The only problem? They aren't pretty. They're serviceable. Don't get me wrong: I have many pairs of serviceable shoes, but on my wedding day, I want something pretty.

Fortunately, most pretty shoes, even (or especially) red ones, have heels of 3" or more. I am not so crazy as to risk a twisted ankle or damaged knees for beauty. Plus, my sweetie is taller than me, but not that much taller, you know? :-)

You want me to shut up and show you what I've done, don't you?


Image from zappos.com

These are A. Marinelli "Pisa" shoes. $89.95 on Zappos, the most evil website on Earth, if you are a shoe fetishist like me. Free shipping and free returns: a lethal combo.

Still, I am happy with these. They're the right red, they're not too high, they're pretty and pointy. They will hurt my feet a little, but not too badly. They'll be great for my elegant white wedding dress.

As for the qipao, where my shoes will be seen? Where I might want something sexy as well as pretty? Stay tuned: I am not done. Somebody save me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What is this car you speak of?

I visited my sweetie in Seattle this weekend. Boy, I missed him!! I flew in Saturday morning--got up at 3:15 NYC time for a 6:00 am flight, landed at 10:20 Seattle time, and my sweetie took me immediately to the car dealership.

You see, we've been discussing the purchase of a car for some time. My sweetie takes the bus to work, but in order to take advantage of all Seattle has to offer (like mountains!), you need a car. Living in NYC, neither of us had a car. In fact, though both of us had owned hand-me-down cars before coming to NYC, neither of us had ever bought one before. Yes, we are 37 and 43, why do you ask?

So there we were Saturday, together for the first time in six weeks, sitting in the car dealership. And let me tell you, for our first experience, it was everything you've ever been warned to look out for when buying a car. It was very...educational.

1) We had looked at several cars, and even test-driven one, over the course of a good hour at the dealership, and had yet to hear the price of a single car.

2) We were asked what we were prepared to put down before we were told the price of any car.

3) When we refused to tell until we knew how much the car was, we were given the "best price." Then we were asked what we were willing to put down and what we wanted our monthly payment to be before we were told anything about financing.

4) The moment at which they lost me: they wrote down our suggested down payment and our preferred monthly payment range on a piece of paper and asked us to sign it. To agree, you see, that if we were given that monthly we would buy the car.

5) When we flatly refused to sign this without knowing what the rate was or the term, the salesguy left to "work some numbers", leaving his colleague to chitchat with us and also ensure that my sweetie and I did not get to talk privately. We circumvented this by going outside to "look at the car again." Once there, we quickly agreed to get out of there as quickly as possible.

6) It took us another hour to extricate ourselves. We were asked repeatedly what they "had to do" to make it work for us. I spewed some garbage about being tired from the plane, about being nervous about buying a car after so many carless years, etc. I played the helpless indecisive woman to the hilt.

7) At one point the salesguy asked, "What if I sold you the car for $10,000?" and I scoffed, "You're not going to sell us the car for $10,000." This was apparently my sweetie's favorite moment. I guess I wasn't completely convincing as the helpless indecisive woman :-).

8) They even pulled out, "I'll give you a deal; we've only sold one car today." Which, OK, I feel sad for you, but that's a lot of money to spend to make someone I don't know feel better, you know?

We finally fled, and went to another dealer, where we were treated with respect, where the prices were posted on the cars, where there was much more selection and we felt much more comfortable. We bought a car. We call it "Car-y" :-).

It's a used Subaru Outback, with a mere 13,000 miles on it, and still plenty of time left on the factory warranty. It was a far better deal than anything we saw at the first dealership, and we felt so much better for having walked out.

We were also happy at how well we worked together on this one. Despite the fact that we had to communicate hastily and in secret, we were totally on the same page and presenting a united front on our first major purchase as a couple. Even though we spent seven or eight hours in the two dealerships, me on three hours' sleep, we felt it was a very good day.

Of course, the next day we tooled around in our new car :-).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So, I've come back from Germany, where I had a great time. I was attending the giant book fair they have there every year, and it is by far my favorite part of my job. I love it. Which is actually kind of funny, because it involves talking to people all day long, and I am not usually a social person.

I love it, though, because it (and its counterpart, the London Book Fair), is the one time where my job consists of a finite task. There is only one thing to do (happily, something I'm actually good at), there is no way to avoid doing it, there is nothing else you should be doing instead or at the same time, and when you're done doing it....you're done. This is not how I would normally describe my job, which usually seems to be an infinite number of tasks which are never quite complete.

This fair was bittersweet, because it was the last fair for me. I've been going to the Frankfurt Book Fair since 1999, and I will miss it. But the move to Seattle means giving up my job, and while that's a good thing on many fronts, I will miss this part very much. Saying goodbye to the foreign publishers I've worked with over the years really drove home to me how much my life is about to change. It was the first time I was saying, "Goodbye; this is the last time I will see you" to anyone. And I was surprised and touched by how many people seemed sincere when they said they would miss me.

Home again, I am feeling sad. I've noticed lately, too, that I have a much shorter fuse than usual. The smallest things make me very, very upset. I have no store of patience or tolerance or calm. I'm instantly angry or distressed. Living in New York, it's not good to have no emotional buffer, because little irritations are a fact of life. I don't normally have the patience of a saint, but I think usually I am pretty good about letting things go. When problems arise, I curse at them, and then hunker down to fix them. Now, I panic, sure that everything is ruined. And yes, I do eventually get around to fixing the problems, but I don't like that panic, that anxious, helpless me.

I guess with this huge change coming, it's not surprising that I feel anxious, but I am a little surprised at how that anxiety manifests itself in every area of my life. I feel like I've turned into someone I don't recognize. I worry that this scared person is who I really am, and the person I thought I was was a mask I could wear because life was easy. Because life never changed, and therefore never challenged.

Four months to go until the wedding, and wedding planning is going to kick into high gear. I need my most calm organized self, and she's gone AWOL. Well, whatever happens, I already have the venue, the food, the officiant and the dress, so even if I fall totally apart, a reasonably nice wedding will take place. I just have to keep reminding myself of that :-).

Monday, October 01, 2007

MRI = i'M Really Insane

On Friday I had an MRI done of my shoulder (my messed-up-from-knitting shoulder). I've had an MRI before, and it is, I admit, a little creepy. I'm not particularly prone to claustrophobia, but that tube they put you in is incredibly tiny; as a New Yorker with a large personal space, I'm not used to having something that close in front of my nose. The idea that this is what a coffin feels like is kind of unavoidable.

Not to mention, the second they put you in there and tell you to lie very, very still, you are seized with a desperate need to scratch your ear.

The MRI machine is very loud--they put sound deadening headphones on you but it's still an all-encompassing sound, a loud buzzy motor sound that comes in rapid spurts: spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt whirrr spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt.

After the first few seconds, when you're wondering if you forgot some piece of metal on or in your body which is now going to be agonizingly ripped out of you, the itch in your ear starts to build. You know you aren't supposed to move, and you're afraid if you do try to scratch, you'll find that you can't get your arm up enough to even reach your ear because of the tight tube. And if that happens, you will freak, and so you must ignore. The. Itch.

What do you do? You've got 25 minutes to lie there, itching. You have nothing to read, and if you breathe too heavily, you might feel your breath bouncing back on you.

Well, if you're me, you start to hear voices.

Spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt-spurt started to sound oddly like Beth-Beth-Beth-Beth-Beth-Beth-Beth. Then there was a whirr, and the noise sounded like Don-Don-Don-Don-Don-Don-Don. Then back to Beth. Then Don. (Fortunately neither of these is my name) Then I noticed that *I* could make it change back and forth between Beth and Don.

Then I realized I could make it sound like almost anything:

* Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear
* If you want to
* Yokohama
* Yahoo Boris (this is a little joke between my sweetie and me: "Yahoo Boris" is what we call the song the Whos in Whoville sing; and our joke when we traveled in Japan was that everything in Japan could be sung to the Yahoo Boris tune. Try it with Yokohama :-)

I even tried three-syllable words like Marianne and Omigod. This was a little difficult to do (I guess my head likes even-numbered rhythms), and it made the spurts sound like they were coming faster.

Oddly enough, "I don't think so" didn't work. The spurt was too far from the sound of "think" to convincingly sound like it. Even if it was trying.

Please remember: the MRI was only for my shoulder. Head scans may come at a later date. After my sweetie is tied to me for life.