Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cruzing Down the Highway

I have owned two cars in my life: A 1998 Honda Civic and a 2003 Honda Accord. I learned how to drive in a (1992?) Honda Civic, and hubby currently drives a Toyota.  His previous cars were American models (an enormous Delta 88 in college followed by a Pontiac, another Oldsmobile, and another Pontiac). I hated all of them before the Toyota. I felt like Goldilocks driving Papa Bear's car. Seatbelt connections always blocked my blindspots, seats didn't adjust right, steering wheels and gas pedals felt like they were miles away from me. I'm 5'4"--pretty average for a woman, and my husband is not tall for a man, so the size problem has always annoyed me (who are the giants buying Pontiac's anyway?).  I decided that I'll just stick to Hondas. They are, like Momma Bear's porridge, just right.

So when I got rear ended last week and the rental company told me they had a Chevy Cruze for me to drive, I cringed.

I have to say, it's not all bad. For starters, the car isn't a horrendously stripped-down one like rental cars I've had in the past. It has a keyless entry remote and automatic door locks. There's nothing worse than climbing over seats to push down manual door locks, or worse--forgetting to do it at all.  The stereo is nicer than my 2003 one--if I owned an auxiliary cable for my phone,  I could actually use it to play my MP3s. And if I had time to figure out the radio to reprogram the all-talk and country stations that the car came with, I could try out XM radio for the first time.  And bluetooth--it has built-in hands free bluetooth. Not that I talk on the phone in the car, but I did figure out how to pair it to my phone just in case. And, best of all, I can adjust the seat and actually see over the dashboard.

I do thoroughly hate two of the Cruze's features: the rear seatbelts and the childproof lock mechanism.  My kids can't buckle their own seatbelts because the bottom buckles sit too low in the seat cushion. I can barely buckle their seatbelts because the bottom buckles sit too low in the seat cushion. And when you lock the backseat passengers out of rolling their windows up and down (as certain button-happy 5-year old boys are wont to do), you also lock them into the car. As in, it locks the back doors where they can't be opened from the inside just like a police car (a Cruze-er?). I have now left both of my kids stuck inside my car more than once as I walked into the house, completely forgetting that they are helpless to let themselves out. (Actually, my daughter correctly guessed that she could climb to the front seat and open the driver's door).

Also, I have never found a trunk latch button inside the car. I have one on the key, but it only works if the key is unplugged from the ignition. But then, I can seem to open the trunk by hand without the key. I'm glad I don't carry valuables in my car.

I'm looking forward to getting my Accord back, all shiny and fixed. Though I am making a wish list for my next car. It won't be a Cruze.  But I will remember to have the kids test out the seatbelts, just in case.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Every time I complain about moving and the housing market here on my blog, I hope that it will be my last time. The only other thing in my life that has been so utterly frustrating is selling a manuscript to a publisher, and for much the same reason: there is absolutely nothing I can do to control the process.

I wish there were straightforward steps I could take to make a difference in selling the house. I can't stage it (its empty, and I can't afford a second house full of furniture). I can't remodel more than I have (no $ left after paying the mortgage every month, and certainly no hope of recovering the $ at sale). We have already done paint, new carpet, new appliances, some light fixture updates, new patio doors. Short of winning the lottery and making a gift of an expensive remodel to the next owner, we're out of things to do on this house. I can't change the slope of the yard, or the width of the lot (thus, the size of the garage). I can't change its placement in the neighborhood (sorry we don't have a flat corner lot or a cul-de-sac spot). We have an agent, MLS listing, open houses, craigslist ads. We could place an ad in the ever-shrinking-newspapaer, but to what end? What other options are there? Goodyear blimp?

We could drop the price. But we've already dropped the price. And dropped the price some more. And the only official offer we've had was way, way under our dropped price. Way under. Way under what some of the smaller houses in our neighborhood cost to build. There is a range, below our current low asking price, where we would definitely entertain offers just to get rid of the darned thing (and its accompanying mortgage payment). But no one is offering.

Yes, we may have to accept the fact that things beyond our control (i.e. the elevation of the yard, the number of houses nearby also on the market, the number of buyers, the economy) have driven the price way down.  And things beyond our control are preventing potential buyers from offering, or possibly even looking.I just wish there were some things within our control.