About Us

The Things I Carried (In My Car)

Still Driving Myself Crazy but it's taking a little longer to demystify car insurance then I thought. So a slightly different car-related post for today.

Today, as I was driving in the fog, nearish the town of Gouldsboro but still lost, I was pretty frustrated with myself. I was clearly going to be late to my dinner party. I didn't have a cell phone to call my hosts, though reception would have been doubtful anyway. My frustration lowered as I entered survival mode and I began thinking about what I had in my car:

Early in the trip, I drank from my Sig water bottle to keep me from getting ravenously hungry. (I also usually keep a snack but I ate it my last trip and haven't replenished yet.)

Part way through the trip, I consulted the book of maps I keep in the car (I have one for Maine and one for the lower 48).

I have $20 cash I keep in a hidden spot in my car in case I need it but ascertained fairly quickly that even if I wanted to spend money on something, there was no stores where I was driving.

The sweater and sunglasses are for the constantly changing weather conditions of Maine.

I was thinking that if I got really lost, I have a blanket, toothbrush, and flashlight in my car as well.

I like to think that if I have to, I can survive in my car one night. I would have freaked out a bunch of people but it was survivable.

It was right after I had this thought when I saw a light on in a house, the first I had seen the whole rural trip. There were toys outside it- usually people with kids are less creepy so I tend to look for those kind of houses. I pulled in the driveway and was greeted by a friendly man, a cute little girl, and two happy dogs. The man let me use his phone to call my dinner dates and pointed me in the right direction. I was at my destination in less then ten minutes.

An exciting night that made me appreciate what I carry with me. Besides emergency car repair supplies, am I forgetting anything?

Tomorrow: Car insurance I swear. :^)

Border Towns and Exchange Rates

Last night, we went out to dinner…and had to bring our passports.

We didn't fly to Italy in a private jet or anything crazy like that. We just went out for Chinese food in Canada, which is a five minute drive from my mother's house. It involves a time zone change (an hour ahead), flashing a passport at a border crossing, and a change in currency. Kind of novel, but kind of a pain.

I used to use my credit card for everything, until a couple years ago. I got my monthly bill and saw lots of random forty cent charges… some kind of fee. I called the company; my credit card had began charging a bogus "foreign transaction fee." I felt like telling these people Canada is our friendly neighbor, not some far flung foreign land. So now, every charge on my card translates to an extra forty cents for a computer to do a calculation. All the more reason to use cash in my Canadian dealings.

You would think in a small area like northern Maine, there would be similar exchange rates but they can vary greatly one bank or credit union to another. We always found the best exchange rate to be in Canada at a particular credit union (though the larger banks are pretty good too). My dad kept a little money in a Canadian bank account just for the purposes of being able to exchange money for the best rate without a fee.

So if you're going to leave the country, it's worth making a few phone calls and asking the exchange rate.

And if you visit a particular country often, it may be worth opening an account at a bank there. (Your statement can be delivered stateside). Bonus: ATMs with no fees at your choice bank.

And if you just don't feel like dealng with it all, use your debt card in a bank machine when you get to your foreign destination. If you don't believe me, check out the New York Times.

Maybe I'll flash my passport again tomorrow for another Canadian visit. And while I'm there, perhaps I'll bring back some Canadian vices, like cheese!

Freaky Friday: The Bad Date Mini-Series

In this mini-series I'm calling Freaky Friday, I'm going to take a retrospective look at the anatomy of the date (including finances) and glean some life knowledge from my awful experiences (if only to make myself feel better and hopefully help you to avoid the same mistakes). Here's round three, which logically follows after Round One and Round Two. Names as usal are changed to protect the embarassed.

In an unusual plot twist, this week it's me starring as the terrible date. I know I seem kind of perfect (or at least more perfect then some of the fine specimens I've gone on a date with) but I too have made dating mistakes. I particular I think of one horrible date I have yet to recover from (which happens to be my only experience with eHarmony).

Bobatea So with eHarmony you answer a seemingly ridiculous amount of questions about yourself. With the questions, you also rank the importance of the value on a scale. I remember being fairly liberal about most of this but I do remember a specific item I marked very important: no kids. At 22, I didn't want no baby mama drama (I may not have been nurturing but at least I was honest).

I waited ten days for my first match (apparently of the millions of people on the site, no one matched my very permissive expectations). When I got my first match I was quite excited… until he had two kids. What the heck eHarmony?

Match number two who I'll call Music Man was much better suited for me. A musician who was eight years my senior, he was funny, smart, and by his pictures cute. We agreed to meet.

In doing a little web research pre-D-day, I found out he was a very accomplished musician. He was a professor at a music school and gave private lessons to his own students as well. I started to get nervous. I was barely out of college, was I ready for a professor?

We met and all good things were confirmed and exceeded. He as fit and good looking. He was polite and kind. He met me at a museum and we walked to a great sushi place where the chef slipped us some green tea ice cream on the house after our meal. After we got boba and strolled along the waterfront. Sounds fantastic right?

Here was my inner dialogue this entire time: "What are you doing on a date with someone like this? This guy is out of your league. He's a professor who has read books you can't even pronouce. He's accomplished in his field. What are you, a full time student with a part time job? I bet he has furniture that isn't 20 years old. He is a real grownup, a professor even. Why did he agree to go out with young and stupid you?"

I was pretty uncomfortable with my lack of things to offer and I'm sure I acted accordingly. I was fidgety and way more shy then I normally am. In addition, I didn't know the area very well so it was up to him to come up with the entire plan, which didn't help what I percieved as the balance of "power".

So what did I learn from this? Plenty…after I gave it some thought:

1) Make your negative brain shut up. This person agreed to go out with you for a reason so stop thinking like an idiot so you don't act like an idiot.

2) Have something to contribute to the date, whether it's a fun activity or at least a great coffee shop. Research if you have to. See, you're cool too!

3) Research the person before the date, but not overly so. I practically memorized this poor guy's resume meanwhile since my online presence was practically non-existent, he went into the date with no expectations. There is something to be said for that.

4) Don't be afraid to date outside your expectations. Music Man reminded me that nice guys don't have to be wimpy and introduced me to boba. And isn't learning something and having new experiences what it's all about?

Happy Friday! Don't be freaky!

Image from www.themissy.com.

Freaky Friday: The Bad Date Mini-Series Part Three

In this mini-series I’m calling Freaky Friday, I’m going to take a retrospective look at the anatomy of the date (including finances) and glean some life knowledge from my awful experiences (if only to make myself feel better and hopefully help you to avoid the same mistakes). Here’s round three. Names as usual are changed to protect the embarrassed.

In an unusual plot twist, this week it’s me starring as the terrible date. I know I seem kind of perfect (or at least more perfect then some of the fine specimens I’ve gone on a date with) but I too have made dating mistakes. I particular I think of one horrible date I have yet to recover from (which happens to be my only experience with eHarmony).

So with eHarmony you answer a seemingly ridiculous amount of questions about yourself. With the questions, you also rank the importance of the value on a scale. I remember being fairly liberal about most of this but I do remember a specific item I marked very important: no kids. At 22, I didn’t want no baby mama drama (I may not have been nurturing but at least I was honest).

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Freaky Friday: The Bad Date Mini-Series, Part Deux

In this mini-series I'm calling Freaky Friday, I'm going to take a retrospective look at the anatomy of the date (including finances) and glean some life knowledge from my awful experiences (if only to make myself feel better and hopefully help you to avoid the same mistakes). Here's round two, a continuation of a month-long series I started last week. Names as usal are changed to protect the embarassed.

Hootersnicole It was one of those scenarios that didn't quite match up for me and Hoot. He though I was cute from seeing me in a meeting and then we just kept missing each other, he was gone, then I was gone. We talked by phone and had good chemistry. I even asked around town about him and was told he was a fine specimen of a man. Great.

After a few weeks of back and forth, we both found we were going to be in town on the same night. It was a Monday and where I lived, there was nothing open on a Monday night. He was going to come over after work and we would have dinner at my place and maybe watch some television.

An hour later then I was expecting (I was avoding housework and other chores so as not to break a sweat) there was a knock on the door. True to form, Sadie Dog yelped like the part beagle she is and I got up to answer. I had carefully chosen a slightly off the shoulder green sweater and nice-on-me jeans. I was showing a little skin in the neck area, sexy without over doing it and the sweater was soft, in case he would happen to touch it. Light makeup and hair up, I was up for anything. Why am I going into my appearance? You'll see…

I open the door to Hoot and he's wearing… a Hooters t-shirt. It wasn't even a brand-new looking one but one that had clearly been worn out and about more then a few times. The only thing I could think to do was laugh. And I did, for about thirty seconds.

"Wow, way to try hard on the first date!"

"It was on the top of the pile."

"Hooters, though? Come on!"

"It was clean."

The night that followed was awkward. He came in and wanted to watch 'the game'. I thought this was just an excuse to put something on but he really got into it. Now I'm not really into sports so I was pretty bored and tried to drop hints as such.

The night was a blur, and not in that good way. We played Mastermind. He won, and then essentially called me dumb for losing. I think the laughing in his face at the front door may have put him on the defensive. Fair enough.

"I'll call you tomorrow" he said but this turned into an awkward email two months later, telling me he was moving and no longer going to be part of our shared organization. I forwarded the email to my friends, saying "guess this is him calling me"… I bet you can guess what happened next.

My friend reamed him out over email and accidentally sent it to him instead of back to all of us! Hello even more awkwardness!

Yes, there is knowledge to be gleaned even from Awkward Central:

1) Don't laugh in someone's face in the first minute. It puts things in the Awkward Lane forever.
2) Don't put anything in writing that'll bite you in the butt. It's true in work, and true in your personal life. It's very easy to forward an email and you never know how long people keep things for. Texts will also incriminate for those of you more plugged in then I am.
3) If you don't feel like heavily investing resources in a date, have them over to your place. It's an excuse to clean the house and being on your turf, you'll be much more at ease. And your house is free, except for that rent you're paying anyway.
4) If he's coming over, tell him to bring something. He'll have a stake in it if he feels he's part of the plan. He'll also feel a need to show up on time, for example, if he's bringing a key ingredient for dinner.
5) Be honest, but be nice. I still stand by the fact I was right in telling Hoot how I felt but I could have been nicer about it. Though I hope he learned a lesson: sexism doesn't get you second dates, at least with me.

Stay tuned next Friday for more freakiness. Until then, share your bad date stories below…so long as they weren't with me anyway!

Image: Nicole has fun with Photoshop…

Read an interesting essay about a women studies major who worked at Hooters…

A Wrist Update: The Part-Time Bionic Woman

So I’ve been following up on my wrist because I certainly wasn’t going to continue to feel as badly as I did on Monday. A few things I learned that could maybe help you if you have an injury like this (a bizarre one that springs up out of “nowhere”):


1) Call you insurance company. You may not need a referal to see a specialist, even if your doctor wants you to. They’re the ones paying so call them.

2) Compare available health care providers. The hospital I normally go to wanted me to come in, fill out paperwork and have an appointment with the doctor before going to a specialist. So let me get this straight, they want me to fill out extensive forms with my hurt hand, take two hours off work and pay my $30 copay for my doctor to look at me and say “You need a specialist”? Are these people kidding? I made another call. The hospital 20 minutes away said I needed no referral and they booked me an appointment within the week.

3) Do a little research for DIY cures. A five minute surf on Web MD unearthed a couple possible solutions to my problem: icing and a brace. I bought an Ace brace for $20 at the drugstore and icing (not the fun cake kind but the water kind) is something I’ve been doing at night. Not the all time solution but a little relief from discomfort. Thanks, internet!

4) Put it out there. I sent an email asking for guest posts to some fellow bloggers. Sure enough the emails came back: “I needed braces for awhile.” and “Wow, I’ve been there!” While it doesn’t necessarily help me to know that other people have felt this pain, it’s sure nice to have a little community around this small setback.

5) Determine the cause of your problem. If you think about your injury, it usually didn’t just come out of nowhere. I noticed that after I used the computer, my wrist hurt for the past few months. Only recently has it escalated. Perhaps you notice that your stomach is upset only before going to work or that your eyes hurt when you read small print. Try to be observant about the times you feel pain because, as some 80s television show once said, knowledge is power.


I was amazed that a little research and $20 made me feel so much better and will save me lots of money on my doctor’s visit. So dare to compare, my friends. Doesn’t hurt to look at your options!

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