Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A habit of speaking too soon

The last post was upbeat and positive. I'm trying hard to see the good in things and not get bogged down in the bad. But I feel like the universe enjoys mocking me, and the last few days have been proof of that.

Friday was a few sets of bad news. Some of it involved news my parents have received, which while serious, is not something I want to go into here. Another part of it involved my car. I like my car--it's a 2002 Honda Civic with 130,000 miles on it. It's been good to me. Other than brakes, tires, a battery, and oil changes, it hasn't needed anything in nearly 7 years. But it has been making an increasingly loud and jarring rattle over even the smallest bumps, so I figured I was due for some work.

I got an estimate a few weeks back from a mechanic that didn't sound too sure about what he was doing. I decided to take it to a dealer to really figure out what the problem was. I dropped it off on my day off Friday and waited for the news. It wasn't good. The dealership charged me $60 to tell me my car needs $4300 worth of work.

My jaw nearly fell off. I don't think my car is worth $4300! They didn't have the parts in stock (which is rather shocking for a Honda dealership, I think), and I was more than happy to find a third opinion.

I had the annual MSTP retreat this past Monday and Tuesday, and it was over an hour's drive from my house. Monday went fine, but a series of events caused me to miss the second day in order to have my car fixed.

I took it to a farther mechanic (closer to the old house) who I trust much more. They were very kind, but the news was not good. Just getting the car drivable again was $1400 (after they gave me nearly $500 off in discounts). I have four bald tires, which will cost about $400 in the near future, and I need a timing belt and other scheduled maintenance. If I don't, I run the risk of burning out my engine. I need about another $1600 total in work, putting the cost at $3000 to keep my car running.

This is extremely tough on our budget. It's about two full paychecks for me. We had budgeted for some car costs, but nothing like this. I feel a bit selfish posting about it though, especially knowing what other people close to me are going through. It wipes out our savings, but we're not in danger of losing everything.

In addition to the car issues, my work computer is dying on me. I did a bunch of work for my upcoming thesis committee meeting over the last week or so. I tried opening the big file I had compiled, and my computer wouldn't recognize it. I tried laying the file off to a jump drive to put on my big computer, and it wouldn't recognize it. And of course, this is the one file I don't have a backup copy of. I spent all day today trying to redo it, and I'll spend all night on it too.

And then, to top everything off, Sophie, Tim, and I went out to get ice cream to at least put a positive spin on the day. Tim was driving my car, and he hit a deer. The deer unfortunately broke a leg and likely won't make it, and there's body damage to my car in several places. We're all ok, thank goodness, and there is nothing Tim could've done to avoid it. But considering our insurance deductible is $500, there goes more money we weren't planning on spending. If it had been Tim's truck, we wouldn't get it fixed, considering the body damage he already had. But with the money I just sank (and will continue to sink) into the car, we need it to last another 5 years, and I can't afford to have rust start to eat away at my car. So, more car work it is.

I really like being positive--I do. But if this past week is what I get for being optimistic, I might be better off calling the glass half empty from here on out!

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