Words, Weights, Whatever

Thursday, February 24, 2005

***The car is MINE***

It finally dawned on me what is the "core" of the core of my obsession with cars. It's not just the fact that I realize it's okay to have wants and act upon them (if one has the means and the want is not illegal or, worse, immoral), but my obsession is even deeper in the realm that marketing folks rub their hands gleefully

I want to have chosen the car personally
All vehicles I have driven until 1996 had been hand-me-downs. Though I liked most of them (the exception being a woefully under-powered Escort), I never pro-actively had a chance to research, consider, test-drive, pick, and pay for my own vehicle until 1996 when I bought my Dodge Neon. I didn't realize until a few minutes ago how deep that experience stayed with me.

I currently drive a 1998 Mazda 626. The pink slip of ownership has my name on it. So does the insurance.

I personally like the car: it's far faster than my Neon, spacious, has a sunroof, CD-player (abeit tends to skip when going to other tracks), and has many other amenities. I even like the interior and exterior color. The Spouse knows how to pick quality.

But that last line is the rub that irritates my obsession. Despite all the above facts, I didn't choose the car. I wasn't even there when R. purchased it. That has been gnawing me, worsened because I could purchase a new vehicle. (Even with R.'s blessing. Grrr.)

Sigh. So where do I go from here?

Monday, February 21, 2005

***Obsession, is the car of life...***

I'm still continuing to research cars. Besides the Pontiac G6, there's the Buick Lacrosse, and now the Mercury Montego:

All pics, of course, were found on the Internet and rights belong to their respective sites.

Why the obsession? It was I who chose to forgo purchasing a new vehicle, not R. Matter was strictly financial: we just could not afford to swing two new cars and and remodel the house all in the same year. And getting an Honda Accord hybrid made sense since R. commutes 160 miles regularly. We've calculated we'll recover the premium price for the hybrid easily within a couple of years (R. says sooner) just by switching to the regular fuel alone. R. had to refuel every other day with the 626 and with premium. The Accord needs to filled only twice a week on regular.

And it's not that I don't like the 626. The car's a definite improvement over my Dodge Neon: more powerful engine, sunroof, and a CD player, just to name a few advantages. I'm already familar with it, too: I can't count the many times I drove it on the weekends or, especially, trips to San Diego or Las Vegas.

Nevermind it takes premium unleaded fuel. Our budget can absorb such necessities. And I only fuel it once to twice a week which is less costly than when R. drove it daily.

Is it car envy? That is, am I inadequate somehow for driving a used car? I still refer to the 626 as "R.'s car."

Or is it the desire just to have something new? Damn. You'd think a business major would be immune to such obvious, cheap tricks. But I continue to read--daily--not only about the G6 and the Lacrosse, but the Montego, the Buick Lucerne, and even the S-Type by Jaguar. R. jokes about what is my latest "Car of the Week" And what's scarier is that I actually have an answer. Last week, for example, was the Volvo S80. The prior week? The Infiniti G35.

Very, very scary.

I think I've narrowed the root to my obsession. For many years I've lived frugally, dismissing many material goods because I just couldn't afford them. I purchased the Neon, for example, because the Ion's and Civic's at that time were too costly. Even R. chose the 626 versus the (now defunct) Mazda Millenia due to price.

But things have changed. I don't make 20k gross yearly any more. R. has finally found a medical group that not only pays decent but is not in danger of collapsing within a year. We have a house and all the benefits (and disadvantages) that go with ownership.

Not only have my resources increased but my knowledge that my reach, too, as has increased as well. For that, I squarely blame my spouse.

Used cars. Certified pre-owned. Rebates, rebates, rebates. It's a buyer's market for cars, especially for American ones. And I know it. It's this knowledge and that I can make such a purchase* that is fueling this obsession.

Whew. What's that line from Sheryl Crow's song? Oh, yeah: "it's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got."

*And forgot about my spouse stopping me. We both learned what happens when I get obsessive over something. While I can exert full control over something blatantly unreasonable (i.e., high-end Audi's or Acura's), it's the "reasonable" zone (basically, anything in the mid-thirties and below. Or a used Jaguar S-Type) that we could struggle if I allow myself to become unreasonable.

***Words in the Wet***

You would think The Spouse would want to stay indoors during the rainy weekend. But nooo. Instead, I found myself driving around with one of our contractors who proudly showed us his slab and tile work on a few homes. I admit I was impressed: slabbing the entire wall and floor of a shower stall does make it look richer.

I wish to say the same about the homes, though. One place--obviously still being built--was so massive that the entrance way felt more like a hotel lobby than a home. And what's with a room just devoted to a spa tub? I've discovered that, when homes reach a certain size, they become more like mazes than a place to live. And we won't even get into the decorations...!

The rest of the afternoon we checked out various stone places. We're replacing the generic tiles on our kitchen and bathroom counters with granite and travatine (sp?). R. especially, had been researching for months. We made final choices late in the afternoon while the sky was clear. Yeah!

That evening we enjoyed a nice meal at our favorite Thai restaurant. To walk off the food, we checked out the local Barnes and Nobles. Not much in new books. However, I did pick up a few mags on SUVs. Is it me, or do most of them look--and act (e.g., gas mileage, etc.) alike? I didn't find as good of a selection of these cross-over vehicles as I did with cars. (The Murano, though, looks killer. Now if I can just convince R. that SUVs are not that hard to parallel park...)
Sunday we ate out for lunch and dinner. Interestingly enough, both restaurants had undergone ownership changes. That theme was carried over into the anime we watched later that evening.

Hikaru No Go is an anime series about a young boy who rises in the ranks of the game, Go. We had been watching regularly since we purchased the series last month. The last third of the series dealt with the main character (Hikaru) striking on his own after his mentor (a ghost) literally disappeared. Very painful but ultimately realistic: Hikaru forges his own path in the championships and carries his master's legacy (symbolized by a fan).

The series nicely illustrated the cliche, the only constant in the world is change. Later, at dinner, we discussed how many of the Japanese series constantly emphasized this point in contrast to the more "static" themes in many mainstream American shows. (I remember the collective gasps in fandom a few years ago when the character Yar was killed--killed!--in the show, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sacriledge for a main character to actually die!)

As the series drew to a close and before we headed out for dinner (Japanese, of course), I reflected the changes in my own life and the upcoming ones. I then realized I needed more coffee.

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