+Tuesday, June 21, 2005+
Do not ever ever EVER buy a Jetta. To the people in the midst of car-shopping to whom I've suggested a Volkswagen Jetta, I vehemently revoke my vote. Before I bought the car last February, my sister-in-law (a previous Jetta owner) and a girlfriend (a current Jetta owner) were very adamant that I don't buy one. "Don't buy it," they said. "I've never had so many problems with a car!" But did I listen? No, of course not. I never do. Just because they had problems with their Jettas didn't mean I would have problems with mine (and for my sake, I won't even mention the handful of others who warned me against the evils of the Jetta). Oh how naive I was. Low end German car, INDEED.

On the outside the car is a sight for sore eyes. That's why I bought it, because she is one sexy bitch - sleek black exterior, black leather interior, moon roof, automatic everything, and gorgeous blue console lights, but as we all had branded into our brains from very early on, it's not what's on the outside that matters. I was appalled when I couldn't get financed for a Jetta at one dealership, and they told me they could get me into a Ford Taurus. A FORD TAURUS?!? Pssh. I was so insistent on a Jetta, the thought of a Ford Taurus actually offended me. I didn't want a Jetta for its performance. No, I fell right into the stereotype women have been fighting for years - I wanted one because they were "cute" (I admit this with some reluctancy. I know nothing about cars. Zip. Zilch. Nada).

The day after I put down my down payment and took my Jetta home, the check engine light came on. I took it back to the dealership. They turned the light off. They said it was WIRING. For the next year I drove the car, the check engine light would come on in intervals - it would come on for a day, and then go away for weeks, sometimes even months, before blinking its ugly little yellow light at me again; I truly didn't think much of it. If it was serious, I figured the light would stick around. If it had been "wiring" the first time, who was to say it wasn't this time?

The stone cold fact of the matter is, the car is a piece of shit. Oh it may look like a low-end luxury car, but deep down, it's just a broken down hoopty. The spring on the cup holder broke, part of it fell off, and I can't even close the thing anymore because the last time I did, I had to use pliers to get it back out. The door to the glove compartment falls off when I open it. On our trip to L.A., part of the door handle on the inside of the passenger side door fell off when I closed the door. This is a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta!! It's not OLD! Matt's truck is pushing 11 years old (and 130,000+ miles) and the worst thing that's ever happened to it is Matt underestimated his strength and ripped out the emergency brake.

During our trip to L.A., the check engine light started blinking insistently at me. The car putt-putted its way up the Grapevine (a long uphill climb on a freeway for those unfamiliar with it). I couldn't get it above a whopping 50 mph and waved empathetically to the drivers flying past me and casting me curious glances. I'd wonder too why such a nice looking car was very visibly and very literally dragging ass up this hill. I think it was out of sheer luck we made it back to Nevada at all.

I drove the car all last week in hopes that the problem would go away on its own. Oh, I knew it wouldn't, but a girl can hope, can't she? From a stop, I could go from 0 to 5 in 10 seconds. And it shuddered the entire time. It especially hated stop lights on an incline - that was when I felt sorriest for whoever the poor sucker in the car behind me was. After a week of denial, I finally came to terms with the fact that my car has a serious problem, and I took it into the mechanic today (they can't check it out till Friday, but the truth of the matter is, I probably shouldn't have even been driving it last week). Thankfully, I still have a warranty on it, so it should be entirely covered by that - I got the highest amount of protection under the warranty that I possibly could. At least I did something right. I suppose theoretically the warranty would've been a waste of money if nothing had gone wrong with the car....In the interim I get to drive my parent's Jeep Grand Cherokee (don't get too excited, it's a 94), which is at least better than Matt's truck in that it has a stereo and air conditioning. Plus Matt's truck isn't insured while he's overseas, and driving an uninsured car in Nevada is a hefty little ticket.

Yesterday I had a fun little adventure hunting for halogen light bulbs for Matt, and by "fun," I mean "very time consuming, aggravating, and the ultimate test of patience." His first day in Afghanistan, he called with a long list of things he needed - sheets, alarm clock, lamp, etc. I bought him a nice little halogen lamp from Target because it wasn't too girly (the ruffled pink one was looking pretty good, though), and the life span of halogen lights is supposedly so far beyond those measely "regular" bulbs. I don't think he'd even been there for a month before the damn thing burnt out, and while we had every intention of getting some halogen bulbs during Matt's leave, we, of course, did not.

On Friday night Matt called me and said he was at a loss without his lamp and badly needed me to send him some halogen bulbs since we so inconveniently forgot to get them while he was still here. I had to go grocery shopping on Saturday anyway at the Super K, so I figured I'd just pick some up then - if only it had been that easy! I spent a good 20 minutes in the light bulb aisle before grabbing up some light bulbs that looked right. I toted them around in my cart for the duration of my shopping, pondering nonstop over these damn light bulbs, before returning to the light bulb aisle for an additional 10 minutes. The package said "Landscape Lighting," they were only 7 watts, and there was no mention of them being halogen, so I put them back, realizing that even if Super K did have halogen bulbs (which they didn't), I didn't have the slightest idea what size or wattage Matt needed. I had no idea when he'd be calling again in order for me to ask him, I had no way to get a hold of him to ask him, and the urgency of the bulbs sounded like it was at about an 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being extremely urgent). Oh, the dilemmas of being a military fiance :-P

So I did what any girl in this situation would do - I went to Target on my lunch yesterday, praying to God that they still sold that lamp. They did!! It required a size G8 halogen bulb. In fact, ALL of the halogen lamps at Target require this size, but strangely enough, they only sold size G4 halogen bulbs. Stupid, stupid, stupid irony!! Damn you Target and your ridiculous G4 halogen light bulbs!! I huffed and sighed loudly and impatiently in the lamp aisle contemplating how it was possible that they wouldn't sell the correct size bulb for the lamps they carry before putting all my hope in WalMart - I'd blow a gasket if WalMart didn't have these freaking lights. You'd think these dumb little halogen lights were a rare commodity or something, and had I known the damn thing was going to burn out a mere month into Matt's tour, I would've saved myself the headache and just gotten him a lamp with those horrific "regular" bulbs. At least then he probably could've gotten replacement bulbs at the PX.

WalMart had them. Luckily. I could see the headlines now, "LOCAL GIRL HAS ANEURYSM OVER HALOGEN BULBS." Yeesh. Had it been for anyone other than Matt, I probably would've given up after Super K, and regardless, I wrote him a letter complete with my woes of light bulb hunting. It seems almost inconsiderate of me, to send a letter complaining about light bulbs to my darling fiance who's in a war zone and has much better things to worry about than my hunt for the elusive G8 halogen light bulb, but those are the letters that make him laugh, and to know that my trials and tribulations will bring a smile to his face makes it all worthwhile. Man, I sure do love him!!! I guess the moral of the story is don't buy halogen lamps for our troops overseas. :-)

wishing matt was here @ 1:49 PM+

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