For the first time in my ownership (and probably many years before that), the MG is 100% electrically functional.
Up yours, Lucas.
(Note: I wrote this a couple of days ago but didn't know what to do with it, not having a personal blog any more to post stuff like this to. Though maybe it's time I start another one. It doesn't have anything to do with cars, it's just something I had to write. I hemmed and hawed around about posting it here, but sometimes an old story just demands to be told. So here it is.)
I met her in early October, in a building that doesn't exist any more, the old Student Center. I met some friends there to see some folk singer who was passing through, like we often did. There was a bar in the basement of the student center. I wasn't 21 yet, but no one cared. I sat with a Leininkugel's in a plastic cup and listened.
She was holding court among a small group of freshmen, talking loudly and animatedly about everything and nothing. She wore a big baggy shirt that would slip off one sholder or other revealing a bra strap. She'd tug her shirt back into place with whichever hand wasn't holding her cigarette, and carry on, never losing the thread of the conversation. She caught my eye and bounded over. She introduced herself with a silly nickname, but that wasn't her; just trying on a personality like a dress as teenage girls do, especially when they leave home for the first time. I asked her real name and when she told me I refused to call her anything else. She acted annoyed about it, but she smiled. We talked for hours, sometimes pausing to sing along with the songs we knew. The folk singer had changed strings before the show; the discarded guitar strings lay on one corner of the bar. I braided them into a bracelet for her, cautioning her to be careful of the pointy ends. We had just met, and I worried about her well-being. It was a sign of things to come.
Twenty-nine years ago. Jesus. Was I ever really nineteen?
I can't remember for sure if we spent the night together that first night or not, but we spent nearly every night after that together for months. Most days as well. Essentially whenever we weren't in class, we were together, even if it was just hanging out. A friend of mine joked that we were "joined at the genitals." He wasn't far off. But there were other moments that actually meant more to me: riding around in her car, a battered silver Chrysler, blaring Violent Femmes and singing along; sitting beneath my favorite tree in my favorite park, just staring at the stars with a blanket aorund our shoulders; ransacking the used clothing stores looking for old concert T-shirts that you could still buy for next to nothing in those days.
Sometime in November, I scared her. My parents were going through a messy divorce, and one night after a phone call with my mother, I slammed the phone down, turned around, and punched the door. I broke three bones in my right hand. She left. I didn't see her for three days, and then she came back, admonished me for losing my temper, and made me go to the doctor. The bones in my hand never healed properly; to this day my right pinky finger sits at a funny angle when my hand is at rest, and I'm starting to get arthritis in that wrist.
In early December, we went to visit her mom. I helped string Christmas lights on the porch railing, as well as I could with my finger in a splint. Her mom told me about some health problems she'd had as a kid, a weak heart and some other issues, and asked me to keep an eye on her. I slept on a sofa in the living room, and after her mom went to bed, she crept down and joined me.
It was good. Until it wasn't. Things fall apart, the poet said, the center cannot hold. It ended just before Christmas in a barrage of harsh words, rash acts, and misunderstandings. I did all the typical lovesick guy things: waited for her outside her dorm room to plead my case, asked her roommate if there was someone else (of course there was), screamed and sulked and drank and cried. I went home for the holidays, heartbroken, and somehow managed to avoid her the whole next semester. She dropped out after that. I dropped out the year after.
Two years later, we bumped into each other, in another town. We talked all night that first night, sitting in an all-night restaurant with a group of mutual friends, and cleared the air. And then we got to be good friends for a while. She had a terrible boyfriend who got her pregnant and then landed himself in jail. I was putting my life back together after another disastrous breakup. We were each other's shoulder to cry on. We spent hours just talking, about everything and nothing, and naturally I fell in love with her all over again. She had the baby in January, and drove herself to the hospital because she went into labor at three in the morning and didn't want to inconvenience anyone. She was always like that; drove you nuts, but you loved her for it.
In July of that year, she got a sitter and we spent the whole day walking around a street art fair. We got lost trying to find where we'd parked the car and ended up walking a lot longer than we meant to. At one point I realized we were holding hands. It seemed as good a time as any to tell her how I felt. She asked me to give her some time to think about things. I agreed. We had plenty of time, after all.
Only we didn't. In August, she suffered a fatal brain aneurysm getting out of the shower. No one knew what happened for two days until a neighbor heard her eight-month-old son screaming and crying and the building manager went in to check. I was out of town visiting family, and didn't find out until I got back. The medical examiner said she probably didn't even know what happened, and that she was dead before she hit the floor, for whatever that's worth. But she died alone, and no one knew.
I was years getting over that. It tore me apart.
But of course, the one thing that you don't know during those times of absolute despair and loss is that you will be happy again. I lost the first great love of my life. But I am still very much in love with the second. In fact, our fifteenth wedding anniversary is Friday. And I love her more than ever. So it doesn't do to dwell on the past.
I've thought a few times over the years about looking up her kid. He'd be twenty-five now, and I hope he's doing well. But what would I say? How would I explain what she was to me? Or why I didn't stay in touch back then, because it just hurt too much? After all, I'm no one to him except someone who loved his mom, and he was too little to remember her. No, the past is a graveyard, and it's usually best to just let its residents sleep.
But those damn ghosts, man, you need to watch out. Sometimes they just pop up out of nowhere, on a Monday morning when you're just trying to drive to work, and a song comes on that makes you think of someone you once knew.
So you come home and pull out the CD, and listen to it, and remember all the times it was played in darkened rooms, behind closed doors, all the times she sang along softly to you, her husky voice making the lyrics sound like molten caramel. And you remember what you once had, and what you lost, and it makes you appreciate all the more what you have now. And the sadness makes you feel better, somehow. And it really is a good album, after all that.
It's these little things, they can pull you under.
...is not always easy.
I just found out that a member of several RC car forums I frequent was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this month. There has been the usual outpouring of condolences and tribute posts, because this guy was a real giant in the RC collecting world (ie, a very big fish in a pond that's probably not as small as you think), and he really did know his stuff.
But I'm not among them, because frankly, I thought he was an asshole.
He clearly had a lot (a LOT) of money. Silicon Valley money, if I recall correctly. In addition to hundreds of RC models and thousands (or more) hop-up parts, wheels and tires, etc, he also had a bunch of old bicycles, several motorcycles, a couple of Porsches, and some other vehicles. Dude was loaded. The problem was, he never let you forget it.
Every time a discussion started about some obscure out-of-production model or part, he'd chime in with "Oh yeah, I have five of those. Here's a photo of them, taken with my very expensive camera." Someone complains about a problem with Brand X of something, and it's "Those are junk, buy Brand Y (twice as expensive) instead." He just always came across as condescending at best, outright derisive of "lesser" collectors at worst.
And then there was the flag incident. Several years ago, a number of model car manufacturers decided to stop selling General Lee models, or decals to make one, because of the Confederate flag on the roof. Of course, the discussion about this turned political, and then... it turned personal. This jackass posted some meme from some right-wing source comparing the Confederate flag to the gay-pride rainbow flag, saying something like "this offends you? Well this offends me." Well, having a gay brother, many gay friends, and a then-gay-nephew-now-trans-niece, I wasn't about to let that slide. I called him out on it, and he doubled down, saying something about freedumbs or something. I posted a response sure to get me banned, logged out, and have never gone back to that particular forum. I've just avoided his posts on other forums since then, and ignored him when he chimed in on a topic.
So yeah. I come not to praise this asshat, but to bury him.
I mean, it's not like I'm glad the guy's dead or anything, and I do feel bad for his family and friends, but to me he was a jerk. And if I consider the tone of certain conversations improved by his absence from now on, well, I don't think that makes me a bad person.
What might is that my second thought was, "I wonder when the estate sale will be?". Because the dude did have a LOT of cool toys...
Rest in peace, prick.
The other day, my dad called me and told me to expect a package. He knew it had been a rough year, he said, and he wanted to do something nice for me and my brother.
Well, the package arrived today. Remember that RC truck I wanted so badly? Yeah...
"Something nice" doesn't begin to cover it. I'm thrilled, over the moon, and incredibly grateful.
(For the curious, my brother's gift was a Nikon DSLR camera, but I don't know what model. He's a serious nature photographer, so he's as thrilled as I am, I'm sure.)
This is it, this is as shiny as the old girl gets:
Fortunately, the All-British Field Meet isn't one of those "open your hood so everyone can see your spotlessly clean engine" sorts of shows. (I mean, it is, but only if you're actually trying to compete, which I'm not.)
Interior cleaned up nicely, though:
Tried a few arty close-ups too.
So I guess we're ready. She's purring like a kitten (a loud angry feral kitten), and all shined up. Any Portland Oppos who want to, swing by PIR and cough up $10 and say hi. And expect a big photo dump of other people's cars on Sunday or Monday.
I have misplaced my iPod. I was istening to it on Friday night out in the garage, while cutting plywood for some new shelves in my study, and I haven't seen it since. I've checked all over the garage, the study, the hallway in between; I've looked near all the tools that I used; hell, I even looked in the box of screws I used to hang the shelves. The damn thing is just not anywhere, and it's pissing me off.
I mean, I'm sure it's somewhere. It didn't evaporate. But I just can't remember where I put it. I remember everything I did: setting up the sawhorses, cutting the wood, sanding the edges, taking the shelves in, leveling them, hanging them up. I remember my elderly neighbor coming over with a package that had been delivered to her house by mistake. I even remember what I was listening to: Urge Overkill's Saturation, and the first half of Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger. I put all the tools away, and I cleaned everything up, and somehwere along the line, the iPod just up and left.
It's not uncommon for me to misplace things; a few years ago when NPR did a story about telling the story of your life in six words, I joked that mine would be "Where the hell are my glasses?". Stuff always turns up eventually, and I'm sure the iPod will as well. But in the meantime, I'm stuck worrying about it, when I should be worrying about other things.
You see... My wife has breast cancer. She was diagnosed in February. I haven't mentioned it on here before now, because it was nice having conversations about something, anything, else. Also, I'm kinda new-ish around these parts, and I didn't want to just unload something like this. But honestly, I feel better the more people who know, somehow. I won't go into details, but I will say that it's not the spready kind (as far as they can tell), she won't need chemo, but she is having a double mastectomy in two weeks. The doctors sound confident that that will be the end of it, but I'm still worried, because I lost my mom to breast cancer back in 2004.
We're just... dealing with it. I mean, what else can you do? Shit happens, and you deal with it when it does. But it has left me even more distracted and scatter-brained than usual. And a bit short-tempered at times, which makes the loss of the iPod even worse, because having the right music on at the right time helps. (Seriously, where the fuck did I put that thing?) I'm in for a long year of hospital waiting rooms and doctor's offices and probably more medical stuff than I really want to know about, but shit happens. You deal with it when it does. At least my mother in law and sister in law are coming in to help out. I don't know what I'd do if thy weren't.
Anyway. I just decided it was time to let this community know what was going on, because I really dig you all. This is a good place, and we need all need good places to go from time to time. And no, there's nothing anyone can do, just keep distracting me with silly car stuff. Post photos of '80s econoboxes, British Leyland cars, early water-cooled VWs/Audis, K cars, leaf-sprung 4x4s, and anything cheap and designed by an Italian.
And if you see my goddamn iPod anywhere, please let me know.
@mm54 If it's anything like my typical Fedex orders recently, the tracking will say something like "Delayed, no delivery date available at this time," you'll raise holy hell, and it will show up two days later looking like they dragged it under the truck for the last few miles.
@glemon There's gotta be a better way to give people a way to get around without driving... Oh, I know! You could have them all ride in one really big car, so that only one person has to drive! Just have the big car stop at regular intervals so that people can get in and out of it when they get where they need to go. No driving involved.
And hey -- if you really wanna talk crazy, we could connect a bunch of those big cars together! And since they're always following the same path, maybe build separate roads just for them, only instead of rubber tires, you could just have steel wheels that ride in grooves, so no one has to steer!
But I guess that's harder to make dumbass commercials for...
@cé-hé-sin Might not be overdrive, if 4th is 1:1, then it's not really a "gear," it's just the input and output shafts locked together. Maybe you don't need to pass thru neutral to get there. (Edit: wrong, apparently...)
I don't know; all I know is that interior shot makes me want to hop in and try it out.