Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Driving to the mailbox next door

OK, maybe it's not that bad, but I can't deny that I've been driving our new Fit around on the slightest excuse. Yes, I know it's more environmentally sensitive to walk down into Cole Valley to get Benny from school and then catch a 37 bus back home.

Oh, but that car ride is so insidiously ... predictable. Two minutes to get into the car, 10 minutes to drive down and park the car. Once we're back in the car, it's five minutes back to the apartment. Two minutes later, we're walking through the door.

If I walk, it is admittedly a nice 10-minute walk to the school (when it's not raining). Then I get Benny and we walk to the 37 stop. The bus might come in 2 minutes. It might come in 20 minutes. Or 30 minutes. 20-30 minutes is crucial chunk of time when you're on the dinner-homework-bedtime march.

Frankly I'd rather spend it at home than on a bus stop bench telling Benny "No, we are not buying madeleines while we wait. I know you're hungry. Listening to you is making me hungry. What did you do today? Nothing? You sat in total silence for eight hours? Hookay then. No, we are not buying madeleines while we ..." Finally, we lapse into sullen silence and I check my phone for the next bus. 17 minutes.

Whereas if I drive him home and get started doing something else, Benny becomes a fountain of information. He'll follow me around, scattering graham cracker crumbs, and tell me about his kickball games, his teacher and that weird 2nd grade girl who chases him.

If I sound a little guilty and defensive, well, maybe I am. But you can't change people's behavior with abstract expectations. You change people's behavior by offering a better alternative that suits their needs. Or maybe it's the Midwest girl in me; I simply feel more relaxed and comfortable behind the wheel.

For three years City CarShare has suited us well. If anyone asked us about it, we praised it to the skies. But neither Ron nor I fully appreciated how much mental work this system required. Every decision, every errand, had to be parsed out: "When should I reserve the car? Which car can I get? For how long? How much will it cost? Should I cancel the other reservation? Should I make it a Freedom Trip ($50 for 24 hours)?

Then, once you were out and about in the car, you had to make the most of it. Time was money. Yes, this reservation was for grocery shopping, but maybe I should swing by the dry cleaners, too. And take in the vacuum cleaner for repair. And pick up that new book by Robert Reich about how the middle class is doomed.

OK, maybe I'm a little defensive.

Friday, September 24, 2010

We have a car!

Last month we leased a 2010 Honda Fit. Look out, world!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fly, fly away

Benny and I flew out to Ft. Rucker, Alabama, last week to attend Greg's graduation ceremony from Army flight school. My sister Cindy and brother Andy, along with my mother and her husband Paul, drove down from Michigan.

It was a rare reunion for me and my siblings — the four of us haven't gathered in one place since Christmas 2008. The ceremony was great and we were so proud of Greg. After everyone else left Friday morning, Greg took Benny and me to the local AdventureLand, where we hit baseballs, rode go-carts, played video games and played 18 holes of miniature golf.

Flying home was a bit of a pill, though. I had to beg the cook at the only restaurant at Pensacola Municipal Airport to keep the kitchen open long enough to cook us hamburgers. (It was 5:20 p.m., apparently too late for dinner.) We changed planes in Dallas and boarded a night flight to San Francisco. The plane was chilly and we didn't have sweaters. Benny was tired and wanted to sleep. I asked the American Airlines stewardess for a blanket and she said it would cost $8. "It comes with an inflatable neck pillow!" she chirped. Well, I thought $8 was an enormous ripoff for a blanket during a night flight, so I literally gave Benny the shirt off my back. He curled up under the frilly blue blouse and I shivered in a very revealing camisole for the whole flight. Good thing the plane was dark.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I feel fine. Thanks.

Ann Arbor is a little nervous about sustainability. They wouldn't want to offend anyone with their new-fangled streetlights.