Our Rolling Death Trap

Our Rolling Death Trap

What day was it? Thursday, I think. Whatever day was National Taco Day. I put on my taco socks and told Dan to take me to Taco Bell for lunch.

Before we left the house, I double-checked that my auto insurance cards were up to date. See, the last time we went to Taco Bell, Dan got pulled over on the way home for speeding. And I didn’t have my phone or my wallet with me and couldn’t prove we had insurance on the Corolla.

The officer wrote Dan a ticket for speeding, but not for failing to show proof of insurance. He could’ve nailed us for both, and god only knows how big the fine would’ve been.

Anyway, even with the officer giving us a break, that freaking trip to get cheap-ass “tacos” cost us $147. So now every time I even think about Taco Bell, I wonder if my auto insurance papers are tucked away in the glove box.

Back to this past Thursday, though. All the insurance stuff was fine (I double checked before we pulled out of the driveway) so Dan drove me to Taco Bell for one of those ridiculous $5 box deals, which I would share with him. This time on the way home, the car started stalling at lights. It sputtered and shook as we rolled down a pretty busy street.

“Gah.” Dan tensed up. He threw it in neutral at every stop and had to give it extra gas as he put it back in drive just to get it rolling when it was time to go again. “Just get us home,” he patted the dash. “At least get us off this busy road.” He turned the hazards on, and cars whizzed past us in the left lane.

“Let’s never go to Taco Bell ever again,” I said. “Once is a fluke, twice is a fucking curse. Also, I’m too young to die.”

“Deal. Taco Bell can suck it.”

We did manage to get the Corolla back home and in the garage before it completely gave up the ghost. Dan lifted the hood, checked the oil, and inspected the battery we’d just replaced. “Whatever is wrong with it isn’t obvious to me,” Dan said. Lowering the hood to almost closed and then letting it drop the rest of the way with a loud thud.

We tried to eat our tacos while we watched GOP senators morph into rape apologists on live TV, only taking a few bites before pushing the taco remains away. We were mad about Kavanaugh. Our nerves were shot from the scary ride home in a failing car. And we were stressing over the financial implications. We didn’t even have the $113 to shell out for the battery last week. No telling how much more it would cost to get the thing running again.

Our appetites were gone.

Friday morning I called roadside assistance and had the car towed to the shop.  For the first time since we’d been forced to downgrade to a single-car home, we were without a car. We had errands to do, so we walked to the bodega-ish shop a couple of blocks away to get Dan’s smokes, and then I ordered groceries from Shipt for the first time ever.

I’m going to long-story-short this sucker, because I’m almost to 500 words already.

A friend of mine from the glorious interwebs, saw my distressed tweets about the car troubles on Twitter and DMed me. She said not to worry about the car, she would help. And she did. She called the mechanic and paid upfront for the repairs. No only did she have them fix what was preventing the car from running (bad spark plugs and a shot number three ignition coil) but she got us new tires too. (The tread rating on two of them was in the red and the mechanic previously given us the concerned parent lecture about riding around with bald tires while we entertained him with stories about blood and turnips.) Not long after that, a second friend offered to cover the expenses. I was speechless at the generosity.

Over the weekend I was emotionally all over the place. On the one hand, people were wonderful and kind and full of goodwill. And on the other hand, people were belittling one of the bravest women my eyes ever beheld while making excuses for a power-hungry, entitled, beer-swilling basket case. I couldn’t reel in my feelings there for a while.

Now that the dust has settled, I’m writing postcards to encourage people to vote. These midterms are so incredibly important. And I’m looking at my next MRI and checkup with the oncologist on the calendar with a little less angst. It’s coming up in about three weeks, and now, thanks to the kindness of someone I’ve never even met in real life, we’re all set to make the 175-mile trip to Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis in a car that isn’t a rolling death trap.

Countdown to Meltdown

Countdown to Meltdown

I got the first quote for the gutter work and the bathroom remodel yesterday, and then I had to open my Calm app and meditate for ten minutes to stop the building anxiety.

To answer your questions:

  1. Yes, this is just the first quote.
  2. No, I am not obligated to go with this particular company.
  3. No, I didn’t really think we would be able to afford an accessibility remodel of our bathroom anyway. (But I did let myself hope.)

Thing is, anxiety doesn’t stop to ask questions and then respond reasonably based on the information provided. That’s why I had to diffuse the situation with a few minutes of meditation.

Money is without a doubt one of my anxiety triggers. I’m not going to rehash the details of the medical bills I’m ignoring or let myself relive the nightmares of trying to sell The Condominium from Hell™, but money stress gets to me in a very painful way.

So when I saw the dollar signs followed by numbers WITH COMMAS, it was fight or flight. And since my fight and flight both seem to be broken right now, the result was what I like to call Countdown to Meltdown.

***

We can keep using our 1963 bathroom for the foreseeable future. If the day comes that I just cannot step in or out of the bathtub, there are more affordable (if a little bit janky) options available. I’ll deal.

However, the gutter and rotting fascia is a problem that needs a solution before it becomes a ginormous problem in need of an even bigger, more expensive solution. I’ve been trying to find other companies to provide a quote on the work without luck so far.

The problems with finding additional service providers:

  • Fibro fog makes it hard for me to speak on the phone. I hated the phone before I was sick.
  • Web searches for residential construction companies don’t turn up much in the way of results. The one company I did find is the one that provided the aforementioned quote.
  • I’ve been pretty much sick since we moved here. We don’t really have a huge network of people to ask for recommendations.

Not that I’ve given up. I’m just not looking forward to the work I’ve got ahead of me.

Inspirational (Bathroom) Quotes

Inspirational (Bathroom) Quotes

bathroom

Thursday afternoon we met with representatives from a local construction company. We’re getting quotes for repairing rotting fascia and soffits and bad gutters. In the next year or so, it will be imperative that we do something to remedy those problems.

Since we were having them come out to the house, we also had them look at our 1960s bathroom. It’d be safer for me not to step over the sides of a tub, so priority uno would be a walk-in shower. But there are other issues to deal with if time and money allow, including a cracked toilet tank, a rusting sink, gross shower doors, and two lights and a bathroom fan all on the same switch. Oh, and the bathroom fan is so loud we had to yell our questions and replies.

“HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TILE?”

“THE WHAT?”

“THE TILE. DO YOU WANT TO KEEP IT?”

***

Yes, getting a walk-in shower for my own safety makes me feel old and infirm. But I’m finally coming around to accepting my fibromyalgia. It’s time to look at ways to make my life easier, not stubbornly insist that I should be able to do things like normal people.

“I have mobility issues,” I told them when trying to explain why I wanted something with the lowest sides possible. (“Mobility issues” is my new go-to for explaining to people that I can’t do jack shit.)

I’m glad I fessed up, though, because they had ideas. Ideas for grab bars and low-maintenance materials.

“Would a corner seat or something be helpful?”

My god, that’s brilliant. “OH! I would love to have a built-in bench at the back of the shower,” I said. While the woman drew it in on a piece of graph paper, I imagined ceremonially going all Office Space printer scene on my drugstore shower chair.

Last night I went to sleep dreaming of a new bathroom, knowing that even if we find the money to get it done it won’t happen until next construction season.

Our First Major House Repair

Our First Major House Repair

On today’s agenda is a visit from a general contractor to tell us how much it’s going to cost us to replace our gutters, fascia, and soffits.

We love our little home, but there are spots on the front of the house where the gutter is hanging on by a single, rotten wood fiber. Surprisingly, I am not currently battling anxiety over the situation. It’s bad, but doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Yet.

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