Monthly Archives: October 2007

How Stella Got Her Vroom Back


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After a turbulent separation, the Frankenstella and I are reunited.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m clearly involved in an abusive relationship and need a hearty dose of Co-dependents Anonymous. Over and over, I just keep going back to her. No matter how terribly she treats me. I can’t help it — I love her.

The scooter was gutted by Jeb at Sound Speed Scooters, and he rebuilt me a shiny new Vespa engine and replaced my stock exhaust with a turbo-grumbling Sito pipe. The Stella no longer purrs — she grrrowls. I nearly got whiplash this morning taking off — she grabbed the pavement and surged on like her tail was on fire.

So pretty much the whole bike was royally fucked, and the pistons fried into oblivion, because the new replacement oil tank put in by Ducaca was not connected properly and so no oil to the engine means melting and seizing and general mayhem. The one thing I thought they had done properly turned out to be amiss as well — Jeb had to re-attach the windscreen they installed a few weeks ago because they put the hardware on backward and the mirrors showed only a clear reflection of my shoulders — while the view was attractive, it was not exactly safe. The only part I’m waiting on now is a new clutch (which may or may not have to do with the new clutch cable they “installed” at Ducaca), which may take a couple of weeks, but she runs fine without it as long as I let the clutch out slowly. If I let it out too fast, she pops a wheelie and I nearly land on my ass behind the scooter. I speak from experience.

Last night on my way home from the shop I gave her the ultimate test — my Mercer St. nightmare, where the scooter died every single time in the past. Not only did she start on the hill, but she took off with such growly force that she almost left me sitting on the pavement at the light.

The amount of money I have now poured into this machine is staggering. When it came to the rebuild, I thought — I could just sell the scooter, losing at least $1500 off what I paid for it (and likely $2000), or sink in another $1500 and at least still have the scooter. Jeb has assured me she will go 5,000 miles without a hitch, save for general maintenence. I think I made the right decision; I woke up this morning and upon remembering that the scoot was parked outside waiting, a huge smile broke across my face. That’s worth the extra cash. I’m so Stella-whipped. It’s not even funny.

Pumpkin on the Brain

Can it really be Friday? It appears that I’ve made it through another week, largely unscathed. I’m quite surprised, give this week’s insane tango of huge executive meetings I needed to pull together, simultaneously, and at 7 AM. I would bitch except that while I was complaining to consulting my boss he told me to finish up X, Y and Z this morning and then take the rest of the day off and go play.

He did this Friday before last, as well. I finally got a 1:1 with him where he actually showed up (*very* busy guy) and I was about to expound on how I felt that he didn’t Value my Appointments with him, and that I was not a Priority (i.e. you don’t love me, you don’t send flowers anymore). He interrupted the beginning of my speech to say, “Listen, I know you’ve been working your butt off, so why don’t you just take the rest of the day off?” I looked at him, dumfounded. Looked out the window at the precious autumn bluesky sunshine. Looked back at him. “Sorry to interrupt you — what were you going to say?”

It’s funny to be set free suddenly and without warning. When I plan a day off, I usually am dreaming about what I’m going to do for days, researching, plotting. I feel like those Russian circus bears that were finally released from their cages after 12 years. They sat there, blinking in the bright light, confused. “But it’s safe and warm in here! And they feed me!” I go out into the mid-day city and have to relearn how to be a bear. During my previous release, I strolled through Capitol Hill, positively giddy, feeling like I was getting away with something. Although my first instinct was to get a jump on my To Do list (bank, post office, kitty litter), I instead enjoyed a luxurious patio lunch. Then I spent an hour in a bookstore, retiring outside with a pumpkin latte for nearly two hours writing until my butt fell asleep from the wooden chairs.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do this afternoon. It appears our Inclement Weather has largely passed, leaving little damage in its wake besides enormous traffic jams as people fled the city to secure their suburban windows against the inevitable falling sky. My electricity shuddered briefly, coughed, hiccupped, and then the storm passed. Still, it will surely be raining so today will not be an outdoor cafe/Volunteer Park kind of afternoon.

Sunday was so startlingly beautiful — I went to Volunteer Park and sat in a pile of leaves, breathing in the fall. I’m getting used to this being my idea of October. Not the cool, crisp Cambridge autumn — which I’ve been told Cambridge is not experiencing this year, either. Harvard Square in mid-October is about as close to heaven as I’ll get. Lately, though, loafing to work in the misty morn with my gingerbread coffee, The Mugs playing on my chunky headphones, descending the wet stone steps overlooking the lake, Seattle fall is putting up a good fight.

I am pleased as punch with a few seasonal treat discoveries I’ve made that definitely go on my “forget sliced bread” list. You must try them:

  • Gingerbread Coffee-mate — screw Starbucks and their $6 soy latte. This stuff makes even ghetto gas station coffee taste lip-smacking good. I’ve been told it’s probably not healthy that I’m excited to go to sleep so I can wake up and have gingerbread coffee again.
  • Pumpkin Soup – in a pumpkin! Best. Idea. Ever. Puts Martha Stewart to shame. Also a big fan of carrot-ginger soup this time of year. Plop everything in a crock pot in the morning and come home to a fab dinner and a home that smells like mama’s kitchen.
  • Bigelow Autumn Spice Tea — apparently this does have caffeine, which I discovered upon reading the box, wide-eyed, at 3:00 AM
  • Pomegranate Chip Ice Cream — it’s soy, and addictive.

I’m getting hungry just sitting here. Think I’ll hit PCC as soon as they open my cage.

Singing in the Rain

Apparently we’re in for some hot storm action happening. Since I’m no longer living with a hobby meteorologist, I’m a little out of the loop. I only know this because a bunch of my afternoon meetings got cancelled due to Inclement Weather.

I’ll be walking home in the Inclement Weather. Awesome.

A nice boy from Sound Speed Scooters came and took away the Stella. He had to bring a trailer and load her up — strapped her in with all these nylon buckles. She looked so sad and impotent, about to be hauled to Fremont. I tried not to cry. For the thousandth time this month, I endured a monologue beginning with, “These are usually rock solid bikes…” and ending with, “we’ll get her fixed up for you.” I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know if they’re going to fix her up. He’s performing an autopsy today. I asked him to check the whole thing, not just the part that was presently broken, on account of my lame experience at Ducati. He told me those guys only work on scooters cause they have to, not because they want to or because they’re particularly good at it. I only used them because that’s where I bought the lemon, and I didn’t intend on paying to make lemonade.

My shiny new mechanic eyed my exhaust pipe and said I needed to modify it because they ship from the factory severely dumbed down to comply with government regulations, and if you put in a real pipe, the power doubles or something like that. Voids the warrantee — IF you have one — so we’re good to go. I asked him if it was legal and he smiled so I said, “Let me rephrase the question — could you do that for me?” Definitely, he said.

At best I want to get the scooter up and running so I can sell it. I’m so wary of what could go wrong at this point. Though you could look at it another way — what else could possibly go wrong? Everything on it has now been replaced — even the tires.

Secretly, I want to believe. I want him to call me and say, “OH MY GOD. We totally figured it all out and we can fix it for you — for like $50.” So my faith could be restored. Because a 40 minute walk home in this impending Inclement Weather is not looking fun.

Lightening My Load

I found myself frantically digging through my drawers and closets last night, feeding an ever-growing pile destined for craigslist, freecycle and goodwill. I was living simply, but I guess not simply enough. The urge to pare down and get rid of runs deep. It’s clearly fall, but it feels like spring.

I’ve followed my breadcrumbs back to 2004, and found Capitol Hill still waiting for me with open arms, as though it knew I would one day return. My little apartment with 20 feet of windows overlooking misty pine trees on the corner of Aloha — just me and Princess Nevadelia, a teddybear couch, bamboo in glass jars, and the delicious still silence that wraps me warmly when I come home. Not a sound but the steady click of my clock, an occasional siren outside that makes me feel safe inside these walls. Sprawling hours of quiet reflection, gluttonous uninterrupted writing, and bone-white nothingness. Red tea and green apples for dinner, a pitch black queen-size womb for sleeping. Startling dreams. Technicolor walks through the mad, mad neighborhood.

I ended my three-year relationship a few weeks ago as August became September and I returned to the neighborhood that felt like home the moment I arrived. Ending a relationship, not because it was bad but because it wasn’t good enough, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Saying, “I’m worth more than this,” goes against everything I’ve been conditioned to believe about myself, and about relationships.

It comes back to the fact that since a very young age, I have always sought out solitude. I have been happiest alone, and my one woman army has accommodated significant others only as breaks in the status quo. This was a particularly long break — because I slowly came to believe that I wasn’t worth the dreams tumbling in my head. That I should take what I could get and be grateful for it, and shut my mouth while I’m at it. It’s bizarre to behold that idea out of context — how could I ever believe that was my truth? How did I let that happen?

In any case, I’ve been working with the details of the relationship, processing it. Mulling and meditating on it, writing, praying for clarity. I believe the same situations happen over and over until you learn the intended lesson from them. I’d prefer to not repeat this experience. This week I felt a change, while meditating, something broke loose — broke free. I gained a small amount of insight. A small amount of pain subsided.

And then today I learned that, bed still warm, he has moved on and is seeing someone else. I am speechless, dumbfounded. I cannot wrap my head around it. A cascade of emotions pounds my head and heart. Foolish girl, still crying in the grocery store over potting soil and microwave popcorn.

Saturday I worked at Cat City and this woman came in looking for an adult male orange tabby. We happened to have one. She gazed at him through red-rimmed eyes and made her decision. As I talked to her, she revealed she had just euthanized her cat the previous day. In the throes of grief, she was grasping for something to fill the void. My heart ached for her. I spoke with her at length, trying to help her ask herself the difficult questions — whether she was ready to bring home another cat. That perhaps by seeking another adult orange male tabby, she had not fully embraced the life of her lost friend, or processed his death. That losses need to be appropriately mourned.

Today, I feel that situation echo in my own life. Except in the end, the woman at the shelter decided to wait until after the holidays to begin the search for a replacement companion.

Lots of things are drawing to a close for me right now. For the past three months at work, I have been supporting a group of consultants, in addition to my regular obligations. It hasn’t been easy. My workload was literally doubled during that time. But I got through it fine, hair intact. They said goodbye last week and I was thrilled to find my to-do list shrink 50%. I actually took a lunch break today! But the fellows I had been supporting returned this afternoon to bring me an enormous bouquet of flowers – autumn sunflowers and gerbera daisies – to express their gratitude. They said they truly appreciated all my help, and that even in the face of immanent disaster and hair-raising deadlines, I stayed calm and smiling. My eyes welled up and I choked out a thank-you. I’m always grumbling that no one appreciates me. It was a spiritually fitting end to this tumultuous day.

Think I’ll leave it on a good note.

Memory Lane, Freshly Paved

So awhile ago I undertook the daunting task of migrating all my joyfulthing.diaryland.com entries over to Wishville. I found a tool that claimed to export diaryland archives into movable-type friendly format, but it fell short of expectations and simply output a text file with all the entries lumped together inside. All 200-something entries.
Little by little I began adding them into Wishville. It was an enormous undertaking. After I’d added about 20% of them, I hit my bandwidth quota with my host. Every time I made changes to my template and tried to rebuild the site, I got blocked by my ISP.
This complicated switching to my new template, which I was quite proud of and wanted to apply immediately. So I removed all the joyfulthing entries and stored them elsewhere.
Voila! I’ve finally completed the creation of the Archives of Joy. I archived entries by month and by category. The only entries that are not completely represented are the photo category, because I can’t find the photos. They’re floating in the ether somewhere, and I’m sure they’ll turn up.
It was a blast reading some of this dusty material. It felt like visiting with an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile and forgot how much I enjoyed. My rabid obsession with music was refreshing. For a multitude of reasons I’ve gotten away from shows and even new albums. I used to go to 3 shows a week. I mean, I moved to Seattle because of the music scene! Energies ebb and flow, and mine have been focused elsewhere as of late. That’s okay. But remembering how elated I used to get over hearing a song I loved on the radio re-ignited me. And here, as I’m writing this, DevotchKa’s “This Place is Haunted” comes on the air and I’m frozen, covered with goosebumps. Larry’s Lounge is on KEXP — the show I was listening to the first time I heard DevotchKa, driving in my car, and I had to pull over to the side of the road to listen to it. Through tears, I wrote down the time so I could go home and pull it up on the online playlist.
I moved in September and I’ve finally got internet access again. It’s one of those irritating things with moving that you have to sort out — getting Joe Cable to come install stuff, missing work, waiting around, you know how it goes. But now I’ve got this mad connection (“blazing speeds” Comcast calls it…) so I can return to regularly scheduled updates.
I’ve missed being here. I’ve got lots to fill you in on, so I best get started.
Lunch first. More to follow.

First Kick, Last Rites

I don’t know if it’s possible for a vehicle to be cursed, or if the trauma of this particular scooter is grounded more in human error than mechanics of the underworld. I’ve been watching a lot of X-Files lately, so I’d prefer to think the Stella simply was abducted by aliens when I first brought her home with 70 miles on her odometer. She was never quite right.
I had problems from day one. I had to set my alarm clock 10 minutes earlier to go through the laborious process of getting her started in the morning. By the 15th kick, she would at least start coughing, and by the 18th, the engine would finally turn over and start muttering. The muscles in my left leg grew visibly larger than my right from this twice-daily ordeal. At least once during the process, my foot would slip on the pedal wet with morning dew and I’d get a fat thwack in the calf from the kick lever.
Once running, she did okay, but it was slow going and took me some time to get up to 35 mph after stopping at a light. For the first 500 miles, the scooter squealed with an eardrum-piercing cry coming from the front brakes. People on the street would stop and turn around to see what terrible fate was about to descend on them. I took to wearing headphones to block out the sound.
I brought the scooter back to Ducati the following week, citing my issues with starting and the squealing of the front tire. Because this was my first two-stroke scooter, I assumed I was just bad at starting it. Maybe I’m too girlie and weak and not kicking it hard enough. Never mind that I couldn’t use the electric start — a “modern” upgrade — because there was an open circuit somewhere that drained the battery every night.
They told me it should start on the first kick, no problem. Obviously. They shrugged off the brain-splitting squeal, and I had the suspicion they didn’t quite grasp the gravity of the situation and were writing me off as a whiny girl. They had the scooter for 3 days and finally called me to pick it up. When I got to the service department, they said they’d forgotten to look at the brakes and he was going to do it now. I waited for an hour while he took off the wheel, wiped down the pads, found nothing, and sent me on my way.
On my way home, brakes still squealing, I noticed the speedometer no longer worked. This was a slight problem as I was still learning when to shift the manual transmission, and needed the guidance of the speedometer since there is no tachometer. I went by ear since they were closed for the next three days.
At least it was starting on the 8th or 9th kick now — a vast improvement. But it was having trouble on hills, and bicycles were leaving me behind at traffic lights. I still had no idea how it was supposed to perform because it was my first 150cc two-stroke manual scooter. (It will also be my last.) I thought perhaps these issues came with the territory.
When it stalled on Denny and I had to start it on the hill, I cried for the next 2 miles.
In quiet alone moments, I wanted my Honda back. My hideous, 25-year-old spray painted rice burner with spaceship styling. My $1,000 scooter that never once stalled, started quickly even in winter, and would carry me and a passenger up the daunting incline of Queen Anne Ave. without a second thought. I was ashamed. But I missed the Uberskoot.
Tuesday I brought the scooter back to the shop. They had the scooter for a week this time. It was the choke, apparently. It didn’t go back in once it was pulled out. He had no problems on hills so he had no clue what I was talking about. Seemed fine to him. Anyways, he said, just use the electric start instead of the kick and it would be fine. He could fix it, but didn’t have time today. Also, he tried to install the windscreen I bought but it didn’t include the hardware it was supposed to be shipped with, so they had to re-order that. Seeing as they were closed again for two days and this was my daily transportation, I decided to make do for the time being.
The battery was dead so the electric start was a no-go. I continued my kicking ritual and endured the deafening squealing, which now seemed to peak only when it was warm out. I did notice that the scooter had developed quite a bit more pick-up, and definitely ran stronger. Apparently the choke being open pulled too much air in, making the oil thick, which makes the bike run sluggishly. I also started putting in cheap gas, and it ran significantly better. I could almost ignore the squealing.
Then the rear tire blew out. The air must have been a little low in the tires. I discovered recently that the Stella has split-rims and if the air pressure is less than perfect, the rubber gets pinched between the rims and tears. Luckily, the spare tire included under the cowl of the scooter is not just for vintage good looks. It took two of us and some crazy curb balancing, but we managed to change the flat tire.
I stopped by Ducati to get the hardware and the windscreen, figuring I could do it myself and save $75 in labor. When I got it home, the hardware didn’t fit on the windscreen and the directions from the Vespa factory were in Italian.
By now, at 800 miles, the front brakes had stopped squealing on all but the hottest of days. It was July. It was around this time that I noticed the front brakes required a vice grip to work. I started using the rear foot brake instead, figuring this was all just due to the fact that there are so many darn scary hills in Seattle.
The Stella happily settled on 8 as the number of kicks required to start. We appeared to have reached an agreement. The brakes stopped squealing, and I got used to not having a windscreen, picking the bugs out of my teeth after long rides on Aurora. Every once in awhile the engine would die while wide open, but it always started right up again, so no worries. I was ready to put our troubled past behind us and start fresh for summer riding season.
It was around this time that Stella began protesting on hills. She would zoom up the hill without too much trouble, but right before the hill leveled out, she would stall. I often had to let my passenger off and either push the scooter up the hill or kick start her into submission. I took to running stop signs and red lights in order to avoid this peril.
So I decided to move to Capitol Hill. Essentially, I looked for the two scariest hills in Seattle and moved to the top of them. From Eastlake to Broadway is a climb not for wimps. Or, apparently, for my Stella.
If you’ve ever driven a manual car, you know how stopping on very steep hills can be tricky. On a scooter, it’s positively harrowing. The front brake and throttle are on the same handgrip. So, you get either gas or brake. There’s no way to ease from one to the other. You can use the foot brake, and on steep hills it is required, but this means balancing the 300 pound bike and 200 pound passenger on one leg.
All that seems scary. And then you try to re-start a stalled scooter on a hill with a line of cars behind you. I now have a head of gray hair.
Sill, re-starting a stalled scooter on a hill is preferable to what I ended up doing: pushing that steel ton stalled scooter up the hill that was steep enough to kill it. Every day on my way home from work.
I tried to find alternate routes home that didn’t include Mercer, which has a big fat red light at the top of it. Especially since my hand brake had totally stopped working and I was relying solely on downshifting and the rear foot brake to stop. I experimented with taking the Roanoke route, coming up 10th the back way. I got stuck at the light on Lynn, got it started again, and made it to Harvard. That’s when the transmission started slipping.
I put the scooter into third, traveling 30 mph in heavy traffic, and it popped out of gear. Thinking I just shifted wrong, I put it into neutral, then second, and accelerated. The gears clicked in and it moved forward again. Okay. As I gassed it to take the turn onto 10th, it popped out of gear again, to the tune of grinding and a racing engine.
I pulled over to the side of the road so I wouldn’t get run over by angry commuters pissed that I was holding up their race to the next red light. I looked at the scooter. I’m not sure what I was looking for. Perhaps hoping the Gremlin would stick its head out and wave, so I’d know. I started it up again and rode the final mile home in second.
The next morning, in tears, I brought the Stella back to the mother ship.
In my hand I clutched a laundry list of issues. The rear basket of the scooter held the flat tire and the unattachable windscreen. “I need you to fix this piece of shit so I can sell it,” I told him. “I hate this scooter. It gives me nightmares. It makes me cry on a daily basis.”
To add insult to injury, parked in the dealership lot was a 2006 Vespa 250 GTS, four-stroke, automatic, top speed of 75 mph, in sage green. Matching trunk. Windscreen installed. For the same amount of money I paid for the Stella — once you add in repairs, bus fare, and visits to therapists. I groaned. The scooter mechanic saw me drooling over it and shook his head. “You don’t want that thing,” he said. “It’s fuel-injected.”
“I know…” I said longingly. “I hate my scooter. I HATE it!” I shook my fists and stamped my foot. He looked a little offended and I felt embarrassed by my emotional outburst. I sheepishly went to the counter to talk to the service manager.
In the past, they had been trying to fix the Stella quickly, in little spurts, because they knew I needed it to get to work. I don’t think being rushed was helping them figure out what the hell was going on. I handed over the keys and told them, “Just fix it. I don’t care how long it takes.”
I also told them I was disappointed that I paid an obscene amount of money for a vehicle that is totally unusable to me. I felt deceived and let down. Stella had broken my heart.
Since the previous ten times I was in, Ducati had acquired a new mechanic, whom they’d been bragging about. He was trained in Stella School at the Genuine Scooter Company in Chicago, Stella’s manufacturer. I had new hope. Not a motorcycle guy tinkering with my girlie bike, but a Stella enthusiast who could give her the love and attention she sorely needed. Plus, he was really hot.
He pushed his black-rimmed buddy holly glasses up on his nose and tapped his pen on his clipboard as he circled the scooter, listening to my rant. When I was done, he said, “None of this should be happening. None of this is normal Stella behavior. I’m sorry this has been your experience. I’ve got some ideas. We’re going to get this running perfectly again for you.” A beam of golden light shone down on him. Cute Scooter Boy was going to right things between Stella and me. I was optimistic for the first time in months.
They kept the scooter for three weeks.
When I got her back last week, Stella growled and purred like a new machine. She started on the first kick and took hills with a vengeance.
Until the next day when I was coming up Harvard Ave. She slid out of gear, coughed wildly, and died. The left hand grip, connected to the gear box, went limp. I restarted the scooter in disbelief. It hummed in neutral but I couldn’t get it in gear. It started to rain. I pushed the scooter under the highway overpass and caught the bus home, swearing like a Tourette’s patient.
I wasn’t sure what to do — I was in shock and all I knew was that I was not going to pay someone to tow that piece of shit anywhere. So around 11:00 PM my friend Chris took me down to Stella’s resting place, put on her car’s hazard lights, and followed me slowly as I pushed 300 pounds of steel from the University Bridge to South Lake Union. Roughly two miles. Half of which is uphill.
I was delirious by the time I got the scooter to Ducati’s garage. The kick start had nailed me squarely in the calf a few times, leaving a bruised bump the size of a grapefruit. I left a note for them that said, “Stella no go. Please light on fire and throw in lake.”
I crossed my fingers that the scooter would get stolen overnight and I could use the insurance to buy a nice old Mercedes biodiesel sedan.
When I called Ducati the next day, they told me it was just a simple clutch cable. The part costs about $6 and it’s the kind of thing I could have learned to do myself, if I’d just been given a week to read the owner’s manual before she started breaking down. I picked the scooter up begrudgingly after work, $55 lighter.
I went to the Scooter Gallery immediately and bought winter waterproof gloves. As I crossed the University Bridge once again, the sky was growing heavy and dark. I turned onto 10th Ave E.
And then, as the stormy sky opened up, my tumultuous 6-month relationship with Stella ended. There was the squeal of tires on pavement, the sickening smell of burning rubber and thick, oily exhaust. The engine seized. The brakes failed. The rear wheel stopped turning. I skidded for 50 feet before nearly dumping the bike in the middle of rush hour traffic.
I dismounted the scooter, removed my gloves, and left it on the side of the road.
It’s a good thing I’ve got new walking shoes.

Forget Sliced Bread…

This weekend I have discovered three of the Best Things Ever and claimed them as my own. There are brilliant people at work in this world and I am thoroughly enjoying the fruits of their labor.

1. Scooter Skirts – I commute to my job via scooter. I don’t know about you, but going 45 m.p.h. in the open air, through cold morning rain wearing a dress is not the best way to start the work day. Two winters ago, I did ride nearly every day to work, but I can’t say I liked it. My dad, who is a construction worker, always stressed the importance of using the right tools to do any job. I thought of that last night after a very enjoyable ride to the U District in the pouring autumn rain. I was wearing my new super squall-proof raincoat, my helmet with face-shield, and The Best Thing Ever: a scooter skirt.

These geniuses invented a waterproof, insulated drape to be fastened around the waist with a simple clasp, over your clothes. It keeps you dry and warm while riding. It even has little velcro strips you can put on your cowls to totally seal out the weather. It was worth every single penny. In this sodden city, I will use it constantly. I was really surprised how warm it was, too. I felt all cozy and actually looked forward to riding this morning. My only regret is not ordering one in hot pink.

2. Hershey’s Cherry Cordial Kisses – miniature, kiss-shaped, chocolate covered cherries. Need I say more?

3. FlexCar – there are a dozen new cars parked within a few blocks of my apartment to which I can walk up, wave my magic wand, unlock the doors and drive off. The gas is free. There is no insurance paperwork. Two clicks reserves me the car for $10 an hour. And the best part is I can choose a station wagon if I’m going to Home Depot, a Hybrid if I’m going to the airport, and a convertible if I’m going to the beach. Also, the FlexCar lot on Broadway & Denny has 3 motorcycle parking spaces right in front. So when the Superstella cannot bear the load (infrequently, but for example, moving a bookcase..), I can zip over, park & ride. I LOVE it.

My only gripe is not FlexCar’s fault, but city of Seattle. They are encouraging us to use alternate forms of transport in order to cut down on traffic jams and emissions. Yet starting today, they are charging a “rental car” tax on FlexCar, in addition to sales tax. This means nearly 20% tax on FlexCar use. Personally, they should make it tax-free if the government is serious about encouraging alternative transportation. If you’re like me and a little peeved at the whole concept, you can sign the online petition. And I think sales tax on SUVs should be 20%, and then we could use the extra revenue to plant trees.

But excuse me, I’ve got some chocolate to eat.