Monday Miscellany: car edition

Car dealership dudes do not take good photos, what can I say. Note that we are both wearing grey to match our new silver sweetheart! (Jacob’s sweatshirt is Alternative Apparel, not AA, hooray! [The only reason I pointed that out was to work in that hilarious link.])

I’m just gonna stop pretending that I’m going to post these little bits-and-pieces posts on Monday. I just like alliteration, OK? The truth is the Monday is most often my craziest day of the week. But, through the miracle of blogging and the expected slackerness of bloggers, it doesn’t really matter. It’s Tuesday! I’m a whole year older than I was last time I rapped at ya (among many other lovely gifts, I got the whipped cream thingie!!)!

And I have a new car! A 2005 silver diesel stick shifty TDI Jetta station wagon (I just learned today that the D in TDI stands for diesel and so I shouldn’t say “Diesel TDI,” but what about people who don’t know what TDI stands for?)! Jacob has spent the past two weeks exclusively talking to pals of ours—on the phone, over email, through my own Facebook page—and obsessively reading the forums (!!!) about the elusive pre-2004 (there’s something about the engine of the pre-2004 ones, don’t ask me) TDI manual Jetta wagon, and after a week spent running all around the universe (that is: CT, NH, NY, NJ) taking potentials to insanely obsessed VW mechanics and sternly talking to our bank and our checkbooks—it’s done. As Plath would say: We’ve come so far, it’s ova.

We’re now those people, I can tell already, who will never not own Volkswagens. Isn’t it weird how that happens? One day you’re someone who wouldn’t dream of defining yourself by your car, the next you drive Volkswagens—all bold and everything. Weird.

The whole affair has me thinking about two things. I’m going to write about them and set myself the challenge of working in some of the Monday Misc. links I’ve been collecting. Sound fun? Did you notice that I’ve already started? Let’s go!

1) Jacob’s newborn-yet-full-blown TDI obsession has reminded me about my obsession: obsessed people! I’d like to write a whole post about these two mechanics we met with in New Hampshire. I was biting my tongue to keep myself from asking to take their picture, so adorable were they. They were probably about my age, early thirties, wearing identical black pants, identical grey hoodies and identical grey New Balance sneaks, with an identical insane insane INSANE love for/obsession with all things VW. They went over the potential car we brought to them with the finest-toothed comb you can imagine. They had us walk underneath it while it was up on the thingie (have you ever stood under your car? My god it freaked me out) and shone a flashlight on every inch and talked about how at every turn, the dealer had fixed it up in the cheapest, jankiest way possible. We were there for almost two hours.

It was akin to taking a tour of this studio that a musician Jacob tours with owns. I can’t even start talking about Dave’s studio, Woodland Studios in Nashville. I don’t have the sound engineery chops to adequately describe how mind-blowing it is, and the verbal secrecy pact I swore when Jacob gave me the tour would prevent me from doing so anyway (there is an entire room filled with vintage electrical/metal-working/repair-type stuff Dave bought on eBay and taught himself to use so he could repair his precious vintage instruments himself, that’s all I’ll say), but I visited it last spring, just as I was launching the bonbons, and it was deeply inspiring when I was about to step off into the deep end of learning to do exactly and only seven things flawlessly.*

I’ve long looked at Dave and his partner, Gil, as the finest examples I’ve ever known of a very certain type of person I’ve always aspired to be: the person who focuses on one thing and does it perfectly. Gil and Dave have taken their craft to the highest levels possible—at every turn you are surrounded by their deep, wonderfully obsessive care for their profession. Most musicians pour their hearts into their music, but the singularity and purity of Gil and Dave’s knowledge and experience and passion is always touching and inspiring.

I felt the same way about these young, energetic, wildly passionate mechanics. They convinced us that unless the dealer halved the price, the car wasn’t worth it. We drove the four hours home in our rental car (a Jetta sedan was the only one available—a sign from the universe if you believe in that kind of shit), and talked about how awesome obsessed people are, and how we could feel ourselves, in this humiliating (for little old anarchisty me), American, capitalist-brainwashed way, becoming VW owners and being proud of it. When Jacob talked to Randy (one of our all-time favorite obsessives, by the way–bike lovers! You must befriend him so that one day you can wrangle yourself an invite to his magical bicycle basement!) the next day and he said that he’d thought of a Jetta as being a good car for us all along, it all started to click.

And so today we got up early (for us, horribly, that means: 9 AM) and got some oj** and bagels on the way and now it’s done, and we both keep looking out the front window at the little cutie waiting to take us to dinner at the place Kara recommended tonight (Oh! Vegans—click on that link, it’s a post about Daiya cheese that takes the melty words right out of my mouth!!)

2) Can we talk about biodiesel? And cars generally?

One disclaimer first: I know nothing about cars. Our car search was entirely conducted by Jacob. As my mom put it: “Finding a car to buy is so annoying. You’re lucky Jacob is doing it all for you.” For sure! And he’s lucky I cook all his food (why yes, I do have the most gendered relationship of any radical feminist ever, why do you ask?). So if anything I’m saying makes no sense that’s because I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

Some bulleted points I’d like to share about our car search and our new car:

  • Disclaimer: I’m humiliated that I consider myself a radical EarthFirst!-style environmentalist and have just spent whole weeks of my life learning about cars. But the reality is: I live in the country, I run a food business that involves lots of schlepping, and the world isn’t perfect. You get it, right? I admire my non-car driving friends, but my life is structured in such a way right now that it’s not a possibility for me.
  • Hybrids: in addition to being out of our price range, I’ve (=Jacob) been worrying about the battery lifespans. We worried that if we threw everything into a hybrid, the battery would be outdated way before the car, then you need to put in new batteries and the other one is just hanging out in the landfill until the end of time (I don’t believe there is a way to recycle them? And aren’t they super duper toxic?). Diesels, on the other hand, are as old as cars themselves!
  • SVO: everyone I know who does the conversion and does Straight Veggie Oil has constant, endless, headachey issues ALL THE TIME. Especially in the winter. If you’re not handy with cars (and, weeks-long research not withstanding, we are not), I don’t see how anyone makes it work (in a cold climate, anyway) without going insane.
  • Biodiesel: so, our new car is a diesel, and we’ve put together a fuel plan. Car smarties, how does this sound to you? In the winter we’re planning on most likely 100% diesel (to avoid the dreaded cold-oil problems everyone I know has), in the spring we’ll seek out B20 (20% bio, 80% diesel), and in the summer: gear up to B80 or maybe B100 if feeling brave or it’s working well. We’re also planning on adding this diesel additive for cleaning properties—the NH mechanics recommended it. It’s a conservative plan, because we want to be gentle and kind to our sweet new ride, but I feel so good and happily holier-than-thou about it (not holier-than you, you know, holier-than-others). I’d love your thoughts too!

It’s not perfect, but it’s something!

Gotta go to dinner, no time to proofread!

*vulvas, raspberries, vandanas, pyramids, pb cups, patties, trufs!!

**Dudicals, do you know about the massive oj swindle? I’ve known about it forevs, but I still treat myself to a little Tropicana when I have a long car trip, because it feels decadent for some reason. It’s pretty fucked-up though. The book referenced in that link is one of those foodie tomes I feel I have to read, even though I already feel like I know and believe everything it says—years-old orange concentrate, secret flavor additives, slavery slavery slavery. I believe it all. Yuck.

7 Responses to “Monday Miscellany: car edition”

  1. brittany

    me (almost) always being first is really starting to creep me out. you must, must, must talk to sweetie peteie about biodiesel!!!

    also, I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE YOU LINKED TO THAT JUNK (and i know you know exactly what i mean).


  2. Lacey Putnam

    Congratulations!!! When I was looking for my Volkswagen, Randy was not going to let us buy one that wasn’t stick. If you get a Volkswagen, you have to drive manual- not sure why, but it was very important to him. So, I learned and we got the car. We had it 10 years ( a bug) and then got a Honda Fit. I miss it everyday. Hope to get a new one some time.
    You should ask Randy about making you one of his Volkswagen stained glass medallions. He used to make them for all his Volkswagen friends. Very sweet!

  3. wintergreens

    Tacocina! I hope you threw down and let them know you’re vegan right off (I think we’re the bulk of their business right now!) and skipped the sweet-americanized salsa that comes with the chips to go straight for the squeezie bottles of the real stuff. Shoot, details, I skipped the details, and now I want you to have known them before going, before letting them dirty a bowl with the white people salsa. Hope you enjoyed your sweet ride and dinner.

    • lagusta

      Yep!!! I had a GREAT chimichanga (let’s not talk about what else could have been fried in that oil, OK?) and my dining companions had great tacos (vegan) and mole enchiladas (not). We need to get the word out about this place though, because as you know, the menu listed pretty much NOTHING vegan! We went off-menu and it was just lovely.

      MY GOD THE TV WAS SO LOUD, though. But we were the only people in there, so I think it was so the abuela in the kitchen could hear it.

      Yeah, salsa: not so great. Squeezie bottles are where it’s at!

      The experience motivated me to create a vegan guide to the HV–what do you say? Do you know of one? Start rounding up places!


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