Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Thanksgiving is around the corner! I love this holiday, as it's the official beginning (in my mind) to the holiday period, I usually have a couple of days off, and I get to stick around town and be lazy.

This year I'm continuing a tradition of having TG with a couple I've been friends with for quite a while. They do the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, and then the other guests bring the rest. This year the guests are me, my sister, and another friend. We are bringing/making:
 I think my sister is also in charge of gravy, and I can't remember if we were ALSO doing Brussels sprouts or not - but for five people, I think we have more than enough food.

I'm hoping to go for a hike in the  morning before coming home and doing tart assembly; we're eating in the early evening so there should be plenty of time for that, weather permitting. I'll have YET ANOTHER friend's car to drive, since she'll be out of town. This is at least the sixth household that has helped me out since I totaled my car in September, for which I am very grateful.

I did spot a super duper cute car on Craigslist, but it sold already (at least, the post is down). I feel a little sad to have missed it (red! two-door!) but I know it would have been silly to try to rush it through. On Friday I have a red-eye to the Dominican Republic where I'm spending a week at an all-inclusive resort with a bunch of my Canadian friends. When I come back I'll have ten days in town before heading East for Christmas (holy crap I have to shop), and then I'll be back before the New Year and THEN I can see what's happening, car-wise. Yep, I plan to obsess about it until then.

Monday, November 10, 2014

More car thoughts

This weekend I borrowed a car (a Mini!) from friends so I could go to the suburbs and get re-certified in scuba. Then I dropped their car at their apartment and wandered through NW Portland and the Pearl District before I hopped in a Car2Go and went home.

I noted a few things:
 - I do like being the person who shows up in a cute car
 - The Mini had great highway handling and good lines of sight
 - The clutch on the Mini was a bit stiffer than the one on my Hyundai; I didn't love that
 - It was great to be able to wander around downtown without caring about where I was heading, as I could see from my app that there were lots of Cars2Go so I was confident I could meander to my heart's content and then easily find a way home.

I'm narrowing down my car wish/want/must have list. It's been helping to think about where I've been, since I've only had three cars in my life.
  1. My first car was my dad's old car that I shipped cross-country for about $1,500, then learned it couldn't pass emissions, so I only had it for a few months before giving it to friends (who lived south of me in a less-emission-strict area). So really, I've only had two cars for any period of time... 
  2. In 1998 I bought a 1985 Honda Accord two-door hatchback for $1,800. That car was totaled twice while I had it - the first time was body damage only, but the second time I was T-boned by a Caddy and the axle snapped, so that was the end of that, in 2005... months before my car was going to turn 21!
  3. Since I was commuting 20 miles each way to a suburb (i.e. had no remotely reasonable transit options), I had to replace my car right away. I got a one-year-old Hyundai Accent two-door hatchback with 15,000 miles on it for $6,300. I kept it for nine years until my little incident a couple of months ago. Fortunately, this time I can take my time shopping.
 I've always been proud that in my entire life I've spent less than $10,000 on car purchases, and I never minded very much when my car wasn't fancy. I DID wish that my last car had air conditioning, so that is pretty high on my list for Next Car. Here's what I've come up with, in descending order of importance:

  1. Low price
  2. Clean title
  3. Manual transmission (I figure there is less to break, and they are usually cheaper)
  4. Low mileage
  5. Reasonably newish vehicle
  6. Air conditioning
  7. Cute factor
  8. Hatchback
  9. Four doors
I'm leaning further and further away from going with a four-door. In my 16 years of cars, it's never been a huge problem that I only have a two-door. I really appreciate all the room that the hatchback model gives me, and I can rent a bigger car if I foresee the need for more passenger space. Yes, ideally I'd have a four-door.. but we'll see how it plays out.

Anyway, I'm not buying just yet. I still want to make this purchase with cash, though I'm not fully clear on the specifics - if I go to a dealer can I just charge it and then pay the bill later? If I buy from a private seller will they wait around for two-three days while I get a check from my out-of-town bank?  I want to leave the vast majority of my six-months-of-living-expenses in the bank untouched, and I don't want to tap my early house payoff fund, and I don't want to tap my fence replacement/new deck money, so I need a bit of time still to save up.

Of course right now it's sunny and dry: It's easy to contemplate forgoing the convenience of a car when the sun is shining!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Too much!

Have you heard the saying "Too much of a good thing is still too much" or have I made it up?

In any case, I'm living that. And, I don't feel like I can really comment on it because it's obnoxious, but here goes: I've been doing WAY too much travel this  year. I love to say YES to every offer I get, and I've been using miles so my flights have cost me very little, but this has been my year:

 - January: work trip to the Bay Area; weekend away with one of my book groups
 - February: 2 weeks in Toronto
 - March: weekend houseguest
 - May: work trip to Detroit, weekend in Toronto; overnight guests 
 - June: two-week trip to Hawaii for (awesome!) family wedding; weekend trip to Ashland
 - July: weekend in Nashville for family reunion;  long camping weekend (of excellent good times!);   houseguest

 - September: week-long bike trip (of awesomeness!), bracketed by houseguests; houseguest and grad school reunion party (of splendor!)
 - October: weekend in San Francisco; 9-day visit to see family in Hawaii;  overnight guests
 - November: weekend in Ashland, bracketed by parents visiting Portland; weekend away with one of my book groups
 - December: weeklong trip out of the country;  East Coast for Christmas with possible day trip to NYC

On top of all that was biking a TON and running a lot; and totaling my car in mid-September. Of the eight weekends left in the year, I'll be home for three.

So, I'm having an awesome time, I'm spending WAY too much on travel (because even if the flights are $100 or less, it costs money to be in other places), and my biggest issue is that it's very hard to enjoy each little piece, because I view it as part of a larger, more-stressful whole.

I solemnly swear I'll be better in 2015. I already have a few things planned (weekend away with friends, between one and three trips to warm places in the spring, trips to Toronto and a family reunion in the fall...), and I foresee a few more (a couple of zero-birthday celebrations, work conference travel), but I'll TRY to do better. Because no one likes a whiner.