Archive for June 2013

Jetta: A Car’s Story

Jetta. A dog’s best friend.

When I moved back from Prague in 2000, eleven months after Y2K panic subsided and eleven months before airplanes struck the Trade Centers and the Pentagon, I bought my first car. It was a brand new, “Blue Lagoon” colored Jetta – purchased at a maximum during the Christmastime rush. I did not get a deal. But I loved that car. From the minute I sat on the black leather seat – that conveniently included a butt warmer – and pushed the button that launched two impossibly durable, but flimsy-looking cup holders, I was sold. Turned on the dashboard which lit up in the reds and blues of an airport runway and I was in love.

Not so much a car enthusiast as a “girl,” I fell for the aesthetics  The colors, the flash, the warm ass…But I fell hard.

The other day I traded in Jetta at what was decidedly the end of her long and loyal life. The final blow, a reversal of her polarity during a routine jumping (she was old and often needed a little help) – when a well-intentioned neighbor reattached the jumper cables incorrectly.

Jetta hobbled into the Honda dealership and netted us a cool $950, her bright blueberry blue gleaming in the sporadic May sun. This entry will feature her highlights – and a few of her lows – as I bid good-bye to an old friend.

Jetta, this is for you.

Road trip with Amy.

Cue Babs.

January, 2001: Jason Evege and I drive from Columbus, Ohio, south to Arkansas – get mildly freaked out in Texarkana, get lost in Texas, drive through a wall of fog, visit my grandparents in Phoenix, stop at a cousin’s in LA, and finally arrive with my “belongings” at my new home in San Francisco. Jetta’s one and only year with a garage.

July, 2002: A guy I’m dating projectile vomits in Jetta on the Bay Bridge. He spends the next day teaching me about “detailing a car.”

April, 2002: Jetta takes me to Cochella in Joshua Tree. 1) A coyote gets a little too close. 2) Joshua Tree has the kind of empty silences that hurt your ears. 3) Cochella is a rip off. I run out of money and have to drink water from a hose behind the bathroom tents. (That wasn’t about the car, but I just wanted to mention it…)

2001-2003: Drive bi-monthly up and down the California coast to sell clothes for Evege Studios. I know nothing about fashion. Jetta never judges even if most of the boutique owners do. Other weeks I drive north to Oregon. My car and my therapist are my only friends for about 3 lonely years of poor dating choices .

June, 2003: Cross country move from San Francisco to New York means Jetta is left at my sister’s house.

Winter, 2003-4: Jetta languishes on a driveway.

The mechanic did this and then repaired it for free – because he did it in the first place.

Summer, 2005: Fan belt breaks on a routine drive around the block. Jetta moves to Brooklyn.

Spring, 2006: My new boyfriend Aaron cracks Jetta’s spoiler on a Brooklyn curb, gives me a new spoiler (not attached to the car) as my very first Christmikkah present from him which leads to several moments of confusion over why I’ve been handed a body-sized, indistinguishable piece of black plastic. To this day that brand new spoiler lives in the basement. Sledding anyone?

Summer, 2006: Jetta suffers a gash in the hood during yet another repair. See photo caption.

July 2008: Driving to the beach with a group of girlfriends, Jetta breaks down on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel in heavy traffic. I ride with the tow truck back to Queens. They rent a car and go on to the beach. I curse my car.

Spring, 2009:Jetta is hit by a large truck while I am standing still at a red light and has a wheel well gouged and a mirror knocked off. I learn that New York is a no fault state which means Jetta never gets fixed and proceeds to scratch legs and arms pretty good in subsequent years making us look either hardcore or very clumsy.

On the way home from our wedding. In the tow truck. Jetta is behind us in this photo.

Summer, 2010: My love proposes to me in that Jetta, in gear, foot on break, outside the post office after picking up a package of “Pickles” from his “mother”. Although I mock him later for his choice of venue and the phrase, “Doyouwantapickle?Doyouwanttogetmarried?”, I secretly couldn’t imagine a better place or phrase. And Jetta becomes immortalized as a testament to our love.

July, 2011:I marry Aaron Fannin in Massachusetts. To celebrate our love, Jetta breaks down at a gas station off the Taconic filled with all of our presents on our way home.

Jetta Linder: Bought in Columbus, moves to California, moves to New York. Drives through almost every state in the union at least once, sees all kinds of crazy weather and listens to a LOT of Broadway showtunes. It is a car for the ages. 130,000 miles. And a whole lotta love. Jetta, I’ll never forget you.

(I’m actually tearing up…)


On My Friend’s Blog About Bravery and Popcorn With Butter

Almost 30 years ago my father was ill. It’s been more than 80 years since the first person got sick. Have we learned nothing?

Maybe that is all any bravery is, a stronger fear of not being brave. –Audre Lorde

I wrote that Audre Lorde quote down in a book in high school. I had a book of quotes I kept. It wasn’t academic in any way. There were drawings of flowers and every quote had to be in a different color and writing style. There was an alarmingly disproportionate number of James Taylor/Simon and Garfunkel quotes in there as well – because apparently having a friend or feeling like a rock or an island respectively was a big theme for me. But I often thought about that Audre Lorde quote because I believe it’s true – at least at first. When you are a child, if there is an expectation that you will be brave in a crisis – say…with a spider in the room – you will figure out a way to be brave, scoop the thing in between a glass and a book and walk it outside – like my ever-brave husband.

But if you are a girl, and a youngest, the expectations in 1970’s and 80’s America were such that I never had to do more than scream an alarm and someone else, someone of whom it was expected would come and do the bravery, while I sat there expecting it of them.

This all comes up because yesterday two things happened.

1. My friend Luke wrote this amazing blog about bravery and illness.

And 2. I decided to fire my medical team.

After a recent treatment failed for a condition that is slowly taking over the vascular system in my body (or something…it’s vague and no one really knows…), something weird happened. I decided I was going to die. It was actually pretty simple. I considered the situation and it sort of came over me in this incredibly lucid way that there was nothing more to be done but sit and wait it out as things progressed and worsened. I gave myself 5 years, which may or may not be pushing it.

The weirdest part is that I actually have been sort of blissed-out with the feeling. I am going to die. It is going to be amazing!

Maybe these guys can help!

More than that there has been a tremendous feeling of relief. To finally know! To no longer speculate on how or when death will happen to me! It’s kind of magical. Woody Allen is sooo jealous!

I started to plot out a timeline. We would need a new mattress ASAP because fuck sleeping on a sagging one. Trips are planned, drives with my dogs out of the city have become a first and repeating order of business, shopping at the expensive market with the better cuts of beef – check, etc.

Then last week, after 20 years I spoke to the man who was my father’s physician during the last few months of his life. My father had died of the very gene that has become active in me now. The mutation was in his grandmother. Only 14 people have had or have it. So statistically there are no real solid statistics. His physician was animated and borderline brilliant as he recalled items from my father’s chart he hadn’t seen in 20 years. One thing was certain: He was still pissed he never figured out why my father died.

He’s retired now, but he said he’d be interested in looking into my condition and those of others of my family members who are similarly plagued. But he lives in another state. And did I mention he’s retired?

So yesterday I went to my doctor –  He’s a liver specialist. One thing we know for certain, hepatically, I’m gorgeous. Literally. I’ve been told I have a “gorgeous liver,” and frankly thank the universe, because I seriously couldn’t handle this without the red wine. My doctor is a brilliant doctor and the #1 liver transplant specialist in the country. He’s very very into statistics. Which is only one of about EVERYTHING that is wrong with that last sentence. I don’t need a liver transplant. I don’t need someone who likes statistics. I need someone who likes puzzles.

But I believe he cares about me because he has fielded a few late night hysterical phone calls and the notes in my chart all indicate that he really thinks I’m a nice girl. So when I went in I was all excited to start the process of spit balling – throwing out some ideas from the conversation with my dad’s doctor about what could be going wrong and what we could do.

For example, I said, “What about vascular swelling?” and he said, “No.” So I tried, “Well could it be a pump issue? Could the walls of the veins be breaking down?”

And he shrugged but said, “No.”

This happened for a total of five minutes. A few times I asked a follow up, “Why not?” and he seemed to have a sort of non-answer each time. “I think you have a clotting condition,” he’d say, so I’d reply, “No, I’ve been tested for every type of clotting condition ever in the history of the world, and I don’t think I have a clotting condition.” And this is where it would get weirder. He’d go, “Really?” And then change the subject.

And we’d end each time with, “You will eventually start bleeding. You will become very sick, and then I will embolize your spleen – cutting off circulation to it to lessen the pressure in your digestive track.”

So, the plan is not to have a plan. The plan is to anticipate major illness for a while – maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe five years – he and I will sit together watch my condition deteriorate – and then he will try some stuff.

I hope he brings the popcorn. With butter. Because who cares if it’s buttered!? I’ve got five good years left! (If I’m lucky!)

Is that the weird face of someone who is dying? Well, maybe...but maybe not!

Enter Luke’s blog about bravery: Because the thing is, whether or not people who are sick are brave or just one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-ing their way through life and death, watching my illness progress without any movement in any direction is decidedly doing neither.

It is the audience at a play. We provide the occasional laughter or tear, the sporadic clap and if we’re lucky we get to stand up at the end for a show well played.

But in my case, I’ll be lucky if I can stand up at all. So frankly, Dr. S. Fuck that.

As I lay in bed this morning, I watched the dust scatter across a beam of sun for a chance at momentary gold. I thought, I like being alive. I really find it all quite dazzling.

So I decided with certainty that I cannot be the audience to my body’s breakdown. I have to find the puzzle-maker that can look at all 14 cases and come up with an answer. Or at least let me die trying. Because let’s face it. I’m not a puzzle maker. I don’t like the ones with more than 4 pieces. But if House, ER and Grey’s Anatomy have taught me anything, it’s that a lot of doctors like puzzles. And if there’s one thing I am, it’s a really good audience. So I’m going to get me a new doctor.

I don’t know if that’s brave, but it’s something.