Monday, August 31, 2009

347 - I want to be a weather forecaster....

because it seems to me that this is the only job where you can be wrong every single day and never get fired.

Friday, August 28, 2009

350 - I think I saw a pair of giraffes walking down the street this morning...

looking for the arc. Cuz it's raining to beat the band.

I effectively took two showers today...I was soaked to the bone by the time I got into work. My shoes and socks are on the radiator in an effort to dry them out before I head home this evening.

You would think a golf umbrella and a rain coat would have been enough to keep me dry.

You would be wrong.

In hindsight I should have procured a pair of rain boots before I started this little experiment.

Needless to say, I think a pair of these are in my future. http://www.target.com/Argyle-Plaid-Rain-Boots-Black/dp/B000WPSDAW/sr=1-10/qid=1251463127/ref=sr_1_10/192-2399143-6832411?ie=UTF8&search-alias=tgt-index&frombrowse=0&rh=k%3Arain%20boots&page=1

Thursday, August 27, 2009

351 - part two...apparently Thursday is the new Friday

In terms of traffic at least.

Departed office at 5PM; caught the train at 5:06.

Exited train at 5:30...in time to catch the 5:35 bus. Or so I thought.

5:30 arrives at 5:58....doesn't leave...as the next bus is schedule for 6:05. So we have to wait for that too.

And then fight the traffic.

Arrived at home 1 hour and 32 minutes after departure.

A perfect end to a horrible day.

351 - There's No Crying on the Train

Good news: I got 10 hours of sleep last night.

Bad news: I had such intense dreams of things and people from the past that I woke up very upset.

Apparently even my dreams have to be tainted from time to time with less than happy memories.

So I just shook it off and went about my day.

Until I got on the train...and my Ipod kicked in with all sorts of sappy songs.
  • Say by John Mayer
  • Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad by Def Leppard
  • Pictures of You by The Cure
  • I Want You Back by Vocal Chaos

Needless to say before I knew it my eyes had welled up.

I guess I could have reshuffled the songs. Or just skipped them outright. But I figured it was better to feel the feelings and get it over today rather than have to face them some other day, on some other train.

I'm hopeful the journey home will be a bit more uplifting.

Maybe I'll get to hear Don't Stop Believin' or some other songs that brings good memories to mind and a smile to my face.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

352 - Adam Sandler's Follow Up to Piece of Shit Car

Adam Sandler wrote a song in the 90s about a piece of shit car. It's actually kinda funny if a) you don't mind "rough" language and b) you've never had a car that falls into the POS category.

Side bar - I now know how Ferris felt when he told Cameron he was envious of his POS car.

Anyway, I signed up for Zip Car a few weeks ago.

Zip Car is a car sharing service where one rents a car at an hourly rate. They provide the vehicle, insurance and gas card. Vehicles are scattered through out town for easy access. (check your local listings for a Zip Car near you: http://www.zipcar.com/)

This is a great alternative mode of transport for those of us without broomsticks or Bentleys to carry us to the unexpected meetings that sometimes pop up. Or to the chiropractor. Or the pharmacy. You get my drift.

So far, not going so well.

Zip Car was to send my activation kit home. Two weeks later I am still waiting for it to arrive. They can't track it.

So unless I haul my not so happy ass down to their office to get another one I am SOL.

Here's the rub: I know if I go downtown (the opposite direction of where I ultimately need to end up at the end of the day) to get it, said kit will show up in my mailbox that very same night.

But if don't make the trek I am at the mercy of the UPS; apparently they'll deliver it when they are good and ready. End result: I am still unable to use the service.

Survey says: Peachtree Center, here I come.

Yee-freaking-haw.

353 - Chinese Fire Drill or why I need a new book for the train

Train itself was fine today.

No calamities. No roaches.

Walking from the train to my office in the morning I did notice something straight out of a movie.

At the intersection of 15th and Peachtree a Chinese Fire Drill (CFD) was executed. It was done with as much grace and speed as I have ever seen. These folks made the ESPN highlight reel.

This is in stark contrast to a CFD I was in back in college. A dude almost hung himself in the backseat of my friend's car. Yeah, home skillet forgot to take off his seat belt first. That's going to leave a mark..on your body AND your ego.

On the way home I swung by the library to pick up a book I had ordered, Eat Pray Love. I had no idea if this would be something I might enjoy or not but I have discovered one must always have a book to read on the train. Otherwise you feel like the County Mouse in the Big City; lacking in all manner of sophistication.

14 pages into Eat Pray Love and so far so good.

Actually, the thought of having more time to read as a result of Mass Transit use is a huge incentive for me.

If the book is really good I sometimes wish I had a longer commute.

Has a stranger sentence ever been typed?

Monday, August 24, 2009

354 – Irregardless, you are using the word incorrectly.

Dear Sir:

I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion on the train today about "the most unique" whatever it was you saw this past weekend.

Please note that something is either unique or it is not.

It is impossible for something to be the most unique as by definition unique means "being the only one."

Further, unique does not always equate to good. To assume that might get you into trouble.

Point in case:

After college, I bumped into this guy I went to high school with at a party.

He told me I was the bane of his existence his senior year. (I was just a freshman when he was a senior..that he even knew I existed shocked the hell out of me.)

For years, I thought this was a good thing.

It wasn’t until I mentioned this to my friend Katie late last year that I discovered this wasn’t really a compliment at all.

Feeling rather smug and doubting her, I looked the meaning up online.

And boy, was she right. (I still don’t see how this is possible since I didn’t say two words to him all year and I don’t know how I could have bothered him if I wasn't even talking to him. Anyway…)

It reminds me of this classic scene from Mallrats:

T.S. Quint: [reading the break-up letter that Renee gave Brodie] Woah, she calls you "callow" in here.
Brodie: You say that like its bad.
T.S. Quint: It means frightened and weak-willed.
Brodie: Really? Shit. That was the only part of the letter I thought was complimentary.

In summary: Unique is just unique. It is not good or bad. It‘s just unique.

Just thought I should point this out to you, dear sir, so you don’t continue to use "most unique" in casual conversation and end up the bane of someone else’s existence.

(Editor’s Note: Yes, I know irregardless isn’t a word. In fact, its use drives me JUST A LITTLE BIT NUTS. I am just using it to illustrate my disdain for it.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

357 - That's Life

Dodged another bullet today.....was fortunate to avoid any calamities traveling to and from work.

In fact, for the first time since I started this experiment in mass transit, I think I made it home faster on MARTA than I would have in my car.

Not only that, I got to spend some time reading The Time Traveler's Wife...and I was so engrossed I almost missed my train stop on the way home.

All in all, this day and the week went well.

The last song I heard on my Ipod as I rode the bus home was That's Life by Frank Sinatra. There is an especially poignant verse that always brings a smile to my face and kicks my tail into gear....

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a poet
a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

As I charge head-first into this weekend I can't think of a better mantra to hold on to.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

358 - Today was a breeze!

No snafus today all around!

I even made a side trek into the grocery store.

Armed with my list and my sturdy watch I went through Publix like a woman on a mission.

Somehow knowing that I had only limited time (35 minutes) and only so much strength to carry my goods was oddly freeing.

I did discover one thing: I will need to change my shopping pattern a bit.

Either I will have to shop more frequently and ferry fewer things home on the bus...or I am going to have to get a cab home. Because while carrying $100 worth of food home in the middle of summer on a bus might sounds fun, I can assure you it is not.

Thanks god I gave up keeping soda in the house earlier this year. The thought of dragging a 12 pack of Diet Coke home amidst everything else is just too horrible to contemplate.

In summary: departed office at 5PM; groceries purchased and unpacked at home by 6:22.

I consider today a miracle and am now perishing the thought of tomorrow's commute. Two days in a row might be too much to ask for.

Friday traffic in Atlanta....never a good thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

359 - Wonderful Wednesday

I could tell you how I woke up later than I wanted to again this morning and thus had to haul ass to catch the bus.

Or how by the time I got to the office, thanks to the insane humidity we've got going on here this week, I was sweating like a whore in church.

Or how when I caught the train home this evening I was surrounded by Blane, Steph and the other richies from Pretty in Pink.

Or that I missed the bus by TWO minutes and thus had to walk a mile home in 83 degree weather with 77% humidity. For those keeping score, that's effectively a 90 degree heat index.

Instead, I choose to tell you that I saw two butterflies as I volks-marched myself home.

A monarch and a swallowtail.

And that made everything else bearable.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 360….There is a Line of Demarcation for a Reason, Moron.

I wake up later than I had planned and scramble to get ready and out the door in time for the bus at quarter til the hour.

Fortunately, I make it in plenty of time.

Unfortunately, a moron is in the first car in our lane.

As we make our way to a notoriously busy intersection, she stops short…and thus fails to trip the trigger for the signal so it knows to change.

We wait awhile…and the light doesn’t change.

We wait some more.

A lady with a walker laps us. (Well, not really but she COULD have.)

I kid you not, we sit for five full minutes and this woman never gets a clue.

At this point our driver has had enough.

Dude gets out of the bus and proceeds to walk up to her car and informs her that unless she moves up we’ll be stuck at this light all damn day.

He is not joking.

At all.

We went through the equivalent of three cycles of the light without moving thanks to this mental midget. Talk about effing up the rotation.

Once we DO get going again we are WAY behind schedule; everyone that was waiting for the bus at the subsequent stops is in a dither; those of us who are on board just hope we can still catch the train when we get to the station.

Otherwise we're all stuck waiting another 20 minutes for the next one.

All thanks to one person who wasn't paying attention.

Because, you see, we don’t live in a vacuum and one change somewhere in our path to work alters everything that follows it. (see The Butterfly Effect if you don’t get my meaning)

So lady, do the rest of the driving world a favor….either pay attention or join me on MARTA.

There’s plenty of room on the bus.

Monday, August 17, 2009

361...The Day of the Hot Pink Bus

AM Commute -

You know you are exhausted when even Paradise City by Guns and Roses fails to get you charged up to face the day. For me, this is a first.

Further, you know your mind isn't really in gear when the MARTA bus arrives wrapped in hot pink advertisement film from grill to exhaust pipe and it takes a full 8 hours to come to the conclusion said bus looks like a giant lipstick coming down the road.

Beebee Gallani would have been so proud.

PM Commute -

In the time I waited for a northbound train THREE southbound trains came and left the station. WTF is that about??

In the span of my five minute walk to the train station I had two sets of people ask me to take their pictures.

Good thing I took photography in college.

All for now...I am off to rummage through my meager food supply as I have yet to tackle the grocery store sans car.

It could be said Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards are in better shape than mine.

Bring on the expired tuna.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

364 - Is there a black cloud following me?

Friday's commute was a little shaky. Literally.

I caught the bus in the AM and as we chugged down a small hill the bus started shaking like a piece of chicken in a Shake and Bake bag.

I silently pondered the reality that perhaps I do have some sort of transportation hex on me.

Apparently the driver could see the apprehension on my face because he assured me the bus would right itself.

And it did.

The evening commute went ok...I caught a different bus so I could get some errands done before I left for MA's wedding.

Trying to get it all done took way longer than I had thought it would. And unfortunately no transit from the shopping center to my house is in place; thus I had to go the cab route to get home.

So now I know Tony the cab driver and I have his card for future use...this might be the start of a great relationship.

Even if he is a Jets fan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 365...What I learned on MARTA today

1. Even if you are wearing ear buds and minding your own business, lost people will pick YOU out of all the candidates on the platform to ask for help.

2. Made it from Buckhead to my Midtown office in 18 minutes this morning. And this is non-rush hour train schedule folks! Score.

3. Single tracking is not something to get excited about.

4. It might be uber crowded on the train but folks still have manners. Thank you nice man who offered me a seat when you could have just plopped down and taken it!

5. 11miles should not take 1 hour and 26 minutes on public transit..or in a car for that matter.

In short......

It is in my best interest to avoid the bus on the way home. Had I gone one more stop I could have then walked about a mile and been home in under 30 minutes. Henceforth I'll be hoofing it when the weather permits and I am not too beat.

And also, I should learn Portuguese.

Because apparently the lady looking for the Bank of America tower totally thought I knew it.

My bad.

365 plus 1....otherwise known as Cari 1, Roach 0

Wednesday - I technically still have a car, but it is inoperable and will be sold tonight. For all intents and purposes Adventures in Mass Transits started today.

Up way earlier than normal and none to happy about it, I cross the street from my home to my Marta bus stop. It's a cool 81 degrees as the sun makes it assent.

While there, a youngster comes fairly close and I quickly deduce he's waiting for the school bus.

This realization reminds me of the scene in Sixteen Candle when Sam is lamenting her station in life. "I loathe the bus." I felt the same way in high school. Funny, when I was in grade school and middle school I loved taking the bus...by high school this was a fate worse than death. Why the sudden shift upon entering the 9th grade? I don't think I'll ever figure this out.

Anyway, my Marta bus arrives and I hop aboard. Johnny Bookbag watches us pull away. Sadly, he's now alone waiting. That has to be the worst.

We get to the station; I make the way to the platform and wait. All the while thinking, "I wish I had a sweater." Because you know 81 degrees in the morning is just too chilly these days. Man, I've lived here too long.

Train arrives; we all shuffle aboard. Upon taking a seat I see a sometimes client and all of the time friend. I wave and he comes to sit next to me. How nice to see him and start my day this way. What a nice change of pace! Rather than trying to merge at 60 MPH and yelling MORON I get the chance to catch up, hear about his impending trip to visit his daughter, the general state of this wretched economy. It's all so civilized.

As we chat I see something out of the corner of my eye.

You guessed it. A roach.

Let the record show I am not afraid of bugs. I have no problem killing the bad ones and setting the good ones free. That being said, I don't feel the need to be on a first name with this master of survival.

My friend gallantly decides to smash him for me.

And people think chivalry is dead?

While well intentioned in his efforts, he failed to kill the bug. He made contact though and in the bug's effort to survive he pole vaulted ONTO MY PANT LEG. (The lady in front of us kindly pointed this out. With such a keen eye I wonder why she's not working surveillance for the FBI. Wait, maybe she is.)

As I try to remain calm and shake him off I express to my friend and the now involved stranger that perhaps in some cultures a bug landing on you is a good omen. A good luck charm, if you will.

They look at me like I have four heads.

I guess they don't agree.

In retrospect I hope I am wrong about the good omen thing.

Because I'd have to imagine any positive waves that may have been coming my way have been negated by the repeated action of me smashing him into the floorboards of the train.

I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You're gonna do WHAT?

So yeah, I've always had a car. I don't say this to brag or gloat; it is just a fact. My first car arrived before I even got my license. You see, after five other children and years of shuttling us around, my parents were over it. It was 1989...they'd been doing it since the late 50's. Honestly, I can't blame them. I don't even have kids and the thought of hauling them to and from constantly makes me shudder.

Really, the whole car thing radiated from my father. He didn't trust anyone I might ride with and thus decreed that if I didn't drive, I didn't go. So not only did I always have a car, I always had to drive (sidebar - it would take me 15 years to finally feel comfortable as the passenger in a car driven by someone else). Two days after I got my license, he and I were on the road from DC to America's Dairyland, and I was zipping around Chicago on the right of passage trip made so many times before my older siblings. Everyone did this drive at least once in our family; there was no way around it. Some people have sweet 16 parties, others have bar mitzvah...the Gerrits family had the annual trip to Wisconsin. My dad, God love him, makes Clark Griswold look like Magellan, but I digress.

Cut to August 2009. The economy is in a tailspin. My company is downsizing and I've made it through three rounds of RIFs. I am not sure I am going to make it through the next round, which I fear is not too far off! Our pay has been cut by 10%, my 401k has tanked and my condo can't be refinanced as all of the sudden I don't have enough square footage (please note that it is the exact same SF I had when I purchased it in 2002. WTF?) and this is the time Pumpkin (my beloved and "trusty" car) decides to become an unruly pre-teen. Not to mention I am going through Gossip Girl withdrawal. Chuck Bass, where are you???? Ahem.

Pumpkin is my 2000 Mazda 626. She's been with me through various moves, job changes and several boyfriends. She ferried me to weddings, funerals, baby showers and more than one concert. She is almost 10. In the midst of this firestorm of uncertainty, she has decide to commit suicide (a little dramatic Pumpkin!). It started slow...a new starter here, a new battery there. In two week's time, I've spent $1,019.06. Yesterday was the coup de grace...she overheated on the way into work...exactly one week to the day after I picked her up at the shop. Let me tell you, broken down under the Buford Connector in Industrial Atlanta is not a good look for me.

Knowing when to say when has never been my strong suit. I am a Taurus. I don't like to admit defeat. I don't like to give up, ask for help or generally fail. I have no problem fishing, it's the cutting the bait part that I struggle with.

But Pumpkin has gone too far this time. Now it's a cracked radiator, a leaking water pump and a new thermostat she needs...costing the equivalent of a short trip to Disney World. And this is just the start. Coming soon to a theater near me will be a new timing belt ($1,200) and then brakes...and the list goes on. All this for a car with a Blue Book value of $3,000.

This is what I like to call easy math.

I can't keep Pumpkin going at this level; I accept this easier than I imagined I would. I am selling her at auction for $1,250 as is - tonight...which makes me happy as that covers the cost of the previous two weeks of repairs and leaves enough left over for some beers for me and my friend Katie, who is giving me a ride back from the sale site.

But what I can't wrap my head around is getting a car loan given all the uncertainty stated above. It just doesn't make sense. Pay goes down, bills go up? Doesn't sound like a plan to me.

What options do I have? Drain my meager savings to buy a car, lose my job and end up screwed? Or suck it up, use mass transit, carpools, my feet and my bike to get hither and yon?

Really, I have no choice at all.

But can I do it? Can I make it a year without a car in Atlanta? A city that is known for its transportation nightmares and general disdain for MARTA? Will I still be able to make work meetings out of the office? What about getting to the grocery store...or more importantly, getting HOME from the store with all the stuff? How will I see my friends that aren't on the MARTA lines? And most importantly, will not being able to go on random road trips at the spur of the moment be my final undoing?

We'll find out together...because as of tonight at 6 PM, I became car-less....for the first time in 20 years...

And my trials and tribulations will all be chronicled right here.

Stay tuned.