Wednesday, November 17, 2004

why i prefer to remain unmotivated

Yesterday I stepped foot outside of reality and into the world of the motivational seminar. Our whole staff was sent to a special leadership training event. I think it was intended to be some sort of incentive or reward but as it turns out, I would've preferred to pull out all of my arm hair with my teeth and knit a scarf with it had I been given the choice.

I should preface the rest of this expose by saying it wasn't ALL bad...there were a few good speakers in the line up whose upstanding reputations I will protect by not mentioning their names. But the rest of this event was a mysterious experience.

Over the course of the day, I witnessed pyrotechnics, the perfomance of numerous "motivational" songs including but not limited to a "Proud to Be an American" medley performed by a blonde decked out in pleather pants (plastic-leather for those fortunate enough to have avoided the phenomenon thus far in life), a female emcee wearing a bright magenta suit and black sequined top, a salvation message/altar call sandwiched in between two get-rich-quick infomercials on how to make millions via a) the stock market and b) real estate, and a showering of thousands of American flag beach balls all around the arena during the dance competition portion of the afternoon (which, naturally, awarded the craziest dancer with a DisneyWorld vacation).

I still don't know what the theme of the day was...I'm beginning to think there wasn't one and maybe the whole thing was a set up. Maybe I was actually in an alternate reality created by a scientist who wanted to study human reactions to the incongruent, the disingenuous, and the bizarre. In fact, I think I would feel better knowing that were the case.

Seriously, I want my 8 hours back.

Posted by Poka Bean at 1:19 PM 3 comments

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

everyone who has ever made fun of my car should read this

Well,'s official. I have finally done the deed. I dug deep within my stingy soul and my pocketbook and I bought a new car.

Those of you who know me and are acquainted with my former automobile are most likely muttering, "It's about frickin' time!" under your breath (or perhaps more loudly). But for those of you who have never seen my old faithful ride, please allow me to paint a picture of the vehicle that has just been victoriously replaced:

It's a '91 Nissan Sentra. Theoretically it's red, but anyone with two good eyes can plainly see the's more like dingy maroon with pink highlights where the paint is badly chipped and oxidized. Two years ago I was rear-ended in a hit and run accident involving a single white female hopped up on crazy pills and had to get the bumper fixed. The auto shop presented me with a newly repaired bumper that was so shiny and red that it no longer matched the rest of the car. Nice.

Then last year I was rear-ended again, this time by “Vito Lenny”, the Italian could-be Mafia member/community college art professor with, I kid you not, NAMASTE on the license plate of his giant Lincoln Town Car. (I'm curious: When did crime lords get into painting and yoga? I was tempted to ask but didn't want to find a bloody horse head under my sheets.) Paying bills and buying shoes seemed like a much better use of the insurance funds I received as a result of this incident so I opted out of fixing Sentra and it was left missing large chunks of paint on its sparkling bumper. Just what it needed.

But those of you who are familiar with this car are wishing I would quit all this small talk already and get to the Sentra's most distinguishing and important features. So here goes.

First, it has…deep breath…a SPOILER. A completely inexplicable spoiler. An entirely unnecessary, ridiculous, and altogether shameful spoiler. I considered having it removed once but then decided it adds a good $25 to the value of the car and that when it would come time to sell it, I was going to need every bit of added value I could get. Plus, why remove the one characteristic of the car that has helped me develop the most character by being its owner and driver?

Second, and most ironic of all, darling Sentra is equipped with a top-of-the-line alarm. With one look at this car, you would wonder why I ever locked it at all, but the trusty "bleep, bleeeeep" sound that reverberated as I hit the button on my keychain helped confirm for everyone within a 2-mile radius that, in fact, my precious car was secure. Fortunately, after a couple weeks of ownership, I figured out how to turn the alarm to silent mode allowing me to lock up much more discreetly. But those first few weeks were shaky. Honestly, I've never been on the receiving end of such bizarre looks in my life.

Oh, how I could go on. There are countless stories I could tell about this car, such as the drooping headliner debacle, the time I got pulled over by the Border Patrol because they thought a little blondie driving such a vehicle must undoubtedly be smuggling illegal aliens across the border from Mexico (and I do not mean this offensively, I’m simply stating the facts), the transmission problem that put 5th gear out of commission and kept me cruising at a cool maximum of 55mph, the stolen stereo incident (yes, someone actually broke into it...maybe I shouldn't have turned the alarm to silent-mode after all?), the numerous rescues by Triple A…where do I stop?

But ultimately, no matter how tragic or entertaining, these are not the things I will remember about this car. I will remember the phase of life that it drove me through, the season.

Listen up, Sentra-mockers. It's time you heard this.

I will remember the incredible feeling of freedom as I drove off my college campus for the first time in a car of my own and all of the desperate attempts to find parking in front of Van Kampen Hall each time I returned.

I will remember the way I packed it to the gills to move into my first apartment. And my second. And my third.

I will remember how it drove me to my first important job interview, my first 10-mile race, my favorite concerts, and always home for the holidays.

I will remember its scorching hot seats after long days at the beach, its forgiveness for my singing voice, its consistency no matter my mood.

I will remember the conversations had, the arguments fought, the kisses shared, and the prayers spoken in its walls.

I will remember Emily wanting to fall asleep in its comfortable seats every Sunday on the way to the first church I “shopped for” and chose on my own.

I will remember the countless road trips up and down the coast and all of the times it took me to the airport to fly off to see Jon or pick him up for a visit.

I will remember crying in it, laughing in it, giving myself pep talks in it.

I will remember making unalterable life decisions in its company as I drove by myself, listening to my favorite music or simply the hum of the road beneath us.

Mostly, I will remember the space it gave me during the time of my life when I changed and grew so much that I not only became an adult, I became myself. I will remember the quiet times spent in it on my own that taught me to appreciate the art and the grace of being alone.

Sure, I could’ve been driving something a lot nicer these last six one will disagree with that...but no finer car could’ve made this season of my life any sweeter or any more complete.

So I’m sorry this is long, but before I dive headlong into my next phase of life, the late-20s Honda Civic phase, I needed this closure. I needed to pay my deepest respects. And I think it goes without saying that an old friend like Sentra deserved a thorough and proper eulogy.

Posted by Poka Bean at 1:50 PM 4 comments