QPA/2K2 was in full effect this weekend. I accomplished enough things to fill three pages in my notebook. (Um, I'm writing down my accomplishments for each day. Yeah, I'm a dork, but at least I'm a dork who's gettin shit DONE.) There was one errand in particular I had planned for this weekend, for Saturday. It was a difficult and painful task that I didn't want to have to do, but it was the right decision for me and by gum I got it done. It involved renting a car (whoo!), which I did online on Thursday. I saved like a million dollars by choosing to get one from Dollar at Newark airport rather than in the city. Also, I was really jazzed about getting to take the train (NJ Transit) out to the new Newark Airport stop and ride the monorail (What's it called? Monorail!) to the rental car place. I am stupidly fond of trains and train travel. I took the train to high school for 3 years since my high school happened to have its own station stop on the Morris and Essex line. Three guesses which one, Jersey kids.
So I got up early Saturday morning to begin a full day of mass transit. I took two trains (three actually, two subways and one NJT train) to the monorail (Monorail!), past all the planes, to pick up my automobile. They were out of compact cars so instead of the snappy Neon I was expecting I got a very rental-y Dodge Stratus. A white Dodge Stratus because it is an immutable law of the universe that every car I drive be white. I've owned two cars, the very car-shaped Ford Fairmont and the bargain of a lifetime, a Chrysler LeBaron convertible; both were white. The LeBaron was a bargain because I bought it off a friend of a friend for like, $400 or $500 with the caveat that they didn't know if the convertible part still worked. Since I got the car in the winter I didn't dare try it out for fear of being stuck in a snowstorm with the top stuck down, or halfway down. I was working in a tiny law firm in Montclair then and on the very first sunny spring day I ran down to the parking lot which was directly below our office's windows and unlatched the top and pressed the button that supposedly would cause the top to roll back and away. When I was satisfied that it worked (both ways, I checked both up and down), I let out a big "whoohoo!" and after exchanging a hearty thumbs up with my very amused boss watching from the window, I was off, whooping and singing all the way down the Parkway. Such a good car.
The white Dodge Stratus in and of itself was not as cool, but the experience of driving a car by myself, for the first time in, God, at least six years? Just as big a whoohoo. Driving is the one thing in my life I don't stress about. It's inexplicable, the calm almost zen-like detachment driving engenders in me. I rarely if ever honk at anyone, even if they cut me off. Yeah, I yell, but more as a kind of loud commentary rather than an incendiary rage. I save all my rage for the subway. And the sidewalks. And pretty much everywhere else besides the car. I'm calm, cool and collected in the car. I'm smart, rational and confident in the car. My elephantine memory remembers every road I've ever driven, and even if I make a wrong turn or end up in a place I've never been, I'm pretty good at navigating my way around. As Marg says, it's the "Never sure, always right" school of driving. So, yeah, even though I think Americans are too attached to their gas-guzzling, air-polluting machines of death, I sure do miss a good drive.
Saturday's drive took me from Newark airport up and over the George Washington Bridge into Westchester to take care of my nasty errand. In order to cheer myself up after it, and also to take full advantage of being Driver for a Day, my next stop was Ikea! Salvation by Swedish meatball. And also a little bit of punishment since Ikea on a Saturday is not exactly the Happiest Place on Earth. I only went for 2 things and did pretty well. I had an attack of responsibility at the checkout and put back three things. Yay me. All in all a successful journey and I got my money's worth from Dollar. The best part is that, due to my rather out of the way ghetto apartment, I was able to park the Stratus right in front of my building. Sigh. The ready availability of parking makes one really want a car to take advantage.
I had to have the car back at the airport by noon and I worried that being me I would oversleep and waste tons of money by having to pay for another day. But apparently my car karma (Carma?) spilled over into my regular life and I woke up early and left with more than enough time. In addition to my general contentment while driving I also really like it for the challenge - finding the best and fastest way to get somewhere, not making any mistakes or hitting lots of traffic. Therefore I especially enjoy driving in large cities, or better yet around them through the mazes of intersecting highways and beltways and on and off ramps. And I especially love navigating airports. I am a dork. Newark airport in particular is quite a labyrinth, especially to get to the rental car dropoff. It feels like you're going in circles, concentric circles, and you have to follow signs that don't always include any options that seem applicable to your goal. It's the ultimate challenge. And then, back on the monorail! I had a blissful 90 seconds alone in my monorail compartment, wiggling in the seat and singing the monorail song before an asshole joined me. He wasn't really an asshole, just why couldn't he go sit in his own compartment? I wanted to dance on the monorail and he was cramping my style.
The rest of Sunday was what I would call my usual Sunday (pizza and the Times followed by more Times at Des Moines) if not for the fact that I've had to skip or abbreviate it for weeks now. Finally being able to just sit and sit and sit some more made me feel less bad about having this old lady routine as I realized it's really a very rejuvenating way to spend the end of the weekend, and the only way I have to keep up with the news. Then, Sopranos, Six Feet Under and hours of fucking around online since I went for coffee instead of tea at Des Moines and couldn't get tired. Actually Sunday night is when I started this entry. I think it's time to finish it.