Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgivings past

This is me in 2007.  Solo trip around the Southern Hemisphere.  I had been traveling about a month at this point and found myself at odds of how to spend Thanksgiving.  It is a holiday that I attempt to celebrate annually.  I like the idea of being thankful and enjoying food with family, friends or a combination of the two.  And somehow, I have managed to work in places that agree with me that you should celebrate with family and friends.  For the most part.  There are exceptions.  Last year, for example, I worked every holiday.  It was part of working at the establishment.  No exceptions.
 I went wine tasting on Thanksgiving near Blenheim, New Zealand.  I arranged a bed and breakfast for a few nights and treated myself to flash packing as opposed to back packing. I didn't want to stay in a hostel for the few days around the holiday.  The bed and breakfast had a bike I could borrow and so I toured the vineyards.  It was awesome.  Gorgeous day and ample wine.  For dinner, I found a pub where I thought I would be able to  eat mashed potatoes or bangers and mash.  An English pub that would offer traditional fare.  I had nachos for dinner.  Unconventional and delicious.
In 2009, I decided to sign up for a half marathon.  I trained with three girls that were training for a full marathon and so I changed my race to run the full.  In the process of training, I started following run inspired blogs to see how other people dealt with the rigors of training.  I met this great girl, Morgan, who happened to be in Denver in 2010 to visit family.  I had made plans to spend the holiday at a gorgeous hotel in Colorado Springs with a guy that I was dating.  There were many red flags leading up to truly dating this guy.  However, not the focal point of this story.  It was wonderful to meet Morgan in person and sort of celebrate the holiday.  She ran a turkey trot and I met her afterwards.  It was freezing that day.  I did manage a light run later in the day at Garden of the Gods.  Amazing.  And it was great prep for one of my final training runs before the marathon I ran in Vegas that year.
While in Phoenix, I always spent the holidays with my friend, Lisa.  She always had amazing wine choices and catered the majority of the meal from an upscale market.  Cut down on a lot of the b.s. associated with the holiday.  There was always ample mimosas, burgundy, tokai and conversation.  I had a great photo of me and the Mini from my stint in Phoenix, somewhere on my phone.  I headed over to co-workers, post-Lisa's, one year and met up with Kristina.  I think that was the beginning of our friendship and understanding that we both love, love, love travel.
As noted earlier, I worked last year.  Although, we were treated to a lunch to kick off the shift which was lovely.  It didn't hold.  I was starving after the ten + hour shift and there was nowhere to sate my needs.  Everything shuts down early in Santa Fe. I think I had chips and salsa for supper.
This year, I will head to my aunt's house for a wonderful meal.  I have spent several thanksgivings with her family.  I have wine and cheese to contribute.  Afterwards, I might stop by Tiffany's for some brunello before picking Maghan up from the airport.  I have a few sides to prepare for his dinner.  And wine.  Lots of wine to inspire him liking the roasted cauliflower and haricot vert. 
However you choose to celebrate--with family, friends, combination of the two--take the time to enjoy the moment and create a memory.  In spite of the disaster of my Colorado Springs trip due to the guy, I still remember enjoying meeting Morgan, my run at the state park and even dinner with the guy.  I had a phenomenal meal.  He would have been happy with kraft mac and cheese.  It's not like I didn't recognize that his food choices were far more simple than mine as I experienced at a few meals prior to us committing to the thanksgiving trip.  He had this way of holding the fork which was interesting, too.  I should have seen the red flags and run.  Not treated him to a holiday with me.  Oh well, it's still a memory. 
Today, I am thankful for being home in Denver.  It took me a while to identify where home is....but I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving plans

Today is the day to go grocery shopping.  Not tomorrow and definitely not Thursday.  In all honesty, I probably should have went yesterday.  Possibly the best option of a quick in and out experience, complete with parking and little to no perceived stress. I remember working retail and how the week ramped up in intensity as the holiday neared.  We were a new location and so people came as lookie-loos as well as dedicated shoppers.  There was even a protest the evening before Thanksgiving that was memorable.  Loud, in your face and I watched the management scramble trying to get a handle on the situation that was taking place in the meat department.  I was safe in specialty talking about wine.  It was an interesting day that is for sure.
I have little interest in attempting to shop tomorrow.  I despise dealing with crammed parking lots.  That is really what I loathe about the shopping experience.  That, and the check out lines.  Typically, I know what I want/need to purchase and my intention is to be as efficient about achieving it as possible.  Even if I attempt to go at a reasonable time, there will still be obstacles to overcome.  Of course, there will be a stop to stock up on wine.  I am bringing wine to my aunt's house and cheese for savory dessert.  I was given the option of choosing what I wanted to bring and that made the most sense.  I can assemble a nice cheese tray for an appetizer and/or dessert.  I think I prefer the dessert course to offset some of the sweeter options.  They always offer coffee at my aunt's and it is perfect.  I know that I will enjoy my holiday there.
My plan is to arrive at my aunt's house, mid afternoon.  I can help with whatever is left of the set up and relax.  I have spent numerous Thanksgivings with her family and so I know it is always full of food, conversation and kindness.  Exactly what I am looking for this year.  And, since I am skipping the set up--cleaning, prepping, cooking--I will help with the clean up. Seems to be what I do at every function.  My role in the family gathering as a child was always the dishes and it has continued through adulthood.
Last year, I worked.  It wasn't really an option to not work and I was grateful to be productive.  I had recently moved to Santa Fe and so my friends mostly all worked with me. I did not have a bunch of offers to choose from in terms of how I wanted to spend it.  Everyone boasted of how great of an experience it would be. They fed us, prior to the shift and then we settled in to creating a memorable experience for the guest.  And it was.  If I were spending a holiday in Santa Fe, I would want to spend it in a gorgeous restaurant where I knew the food would elevate the entire dining experience.  As well as knowing that I would not have to clean anything up.  Hello, gratitude!
That was last year.  This year, I am incredibly grateful to not be working.  I texted a few of my friends from my previous job and told them how happy I was to not be working.  They concurred.  I have had a few offers of how to spend it--with family in Omaha, with family here or with friends.  I have friends dining out (and I know this is a welcome option to many as I just pointed out.  I get it.  It's awesome to not worry about the cleaning, prepping, cooking, clean up associated with entertaining).  I considered heading to Omaha to spend Thanksgiving there.  That was until I got a job and it became a moot point.  Sure, I could have flown to Omaha earlier this week and planned on returning on Thursday had I known my schedule a month ago.  I thought I would be working on Wednesday night which would limit my options.  My dad was not thrilled when I called to decline on his offer of spending the holiday there.  Timing would not allow it. 
Sara Jo will be celebrating in Fort Collins with her brother and Maghan is working at the airport.  After his shift concludes, I plan on celebrating the holiday with him.  He is indecisive on what he would like to do.  Steak dinner, go out, or have a few of his colleagues over.  That was new to me and I can roll with whatever he chooses to do.  Although, I would prefer the going out option or steak dinner.  I can drink wine. 
I do enjoy this holiday.  Mostly due to the food, conversation and wine.  I know that I will immensely enjoy it this year.  Cheers!

Monday, November 23, 2015

more yoga woes

I sought out a power vinyasa class this afternoon.  Ironically, there was one at 4:30 which worked with my schedule and happened to be at the one location I had not checked out. Determined to go, I armed myself with my mat, towel, water bottle and extra hand towel to use for the rush of sweat I was sure to achieve from the power class.  I was hoping that the studio would offer a heated class.  They do.  Just not the power class that I chose to attend.
Gorgeous inviting studio with a parking lot.  A first for this franchise, I think.  I have fought for parking spots in Capitol Hill, Cherry Creek, RiNo and the Hilltop area.  For some reason, they secured a studio with ample parking on Broadway.  For that I was grateful.  The locker rooms were clean and spacious.  Comfortable and the room, itself, was large.  Probably could hold up to 60 students easily.  I think there were 9 people in my class. Maybe ten.  We were all pretty spread out around the room.  It reminded me of a ballroom.  I could see dancing being taught in that room.  Or perhaps I am projecting what I would like to do next.  I saw a dance studio, somewhere today.  I think dance class is on my mind.
I digress.  The room was not heated and had a slight chill to it.  I took my jacket off to acclimate to the environment.  However, I still yearned for a heated class.  I know there are yoga studios that offer heated vinyasa flow in Denver.  I used to frequent one of them when I lived here the first time.  In addition, I have a friend that opened a studio here in Littleton that is based out of Phoenix.  I know that that particular studio is super hot.  My only concern is the location.  It is not very close to me at all.
There was music.  Albeit not what I wanted to listen to, but music helped.  I have not found anything remotely like I experienced in Phoenix or even the crappy covers that this chick used to play in Santa Fe.  I might actually contend that I would take a cover song over the elevator style that seems to be occurring in Denver.  When I see power yoga, I think many sun salutations, chatarangas and warrior poses.  Not an upward facing bow within the first fifteen minutes of class.  The instructor was fancy with her Sanskrit but it came across as elitist and unfeeling.  I want to be challenged not talked down to.  And I am sure that that was not her intention.  It's just how it came across.  I wasn't feeling her vibe and found myself being more resistant to the following postures.  When we finally got to the middle of the class (what I normally love), I was not warm enough to be adequately doing warrior C.  There had not been enough build up in the warm up portion of the class.  It was a disappointment.  I have one more class before my introductory pass expires.  Thankfully, it will be with my friend that I know her class is challenging.
I like the idea of this studio and the vibe of most of the locations.  A parking solution or alternative would be a welcome idea as well as ramping up what their idea of a power class is.  I will continue to scout out my options here.  There are many more studios to consider before committing to a membership.  I hope to return to ashtanga too.  My shoulder continues to irk me which is limiting my ability to fully commit to a mysore practice.  I recognize that I get a lot of benefit out of a daily ashtanga practice.  Strengthening and building endurance.  I had crazy ability before I arrived in Denver.  Mostly due to the practice I had in Santa Fe, discovering mysore and completing my teacher training where the majority of classes were physical that I attended.  I must return to that style of practice.  No more simple vinyasa classes where music is not offered and chatarangas are few. 
Tomorrow I will go to a class and then for a run.  The half marathon will not run itself.  And in my experience with Sara Jo, specifically, we must have a foundation to run the thirteen miles.  I have run two half marathons with her where I did not train.  I paid for it both times.  Never again...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Current physical annoyances

Downward spiral.  Everything started so innocent.  Work, drink wine, eat late, drink more wine and eventually go to bed around 2 or 3.  Wake up at 7, maybe 8.  Repeat. 
Repeat with yoga (obviously as I have been neglecting the run factor due to weather, laziness and now, a cold.  Hence the spiral comment).  I started sneezing about Wednesday and thought I could fight the cold off.  I would drink more water, sleep, and begin the initial ways to stave off a cold.  Swallowing garlic, more water, olive leaf pills.  I managed to pick up some of those and an alternate to emergen C to see how it would work.  I thought I was doing all of the right things.  I worked Friday night and when I returned home chose to drink whiskey.  Sure fire way to kill any cold left in my body or so I told myself as I drank a manhattan.  And it was delicious.  I stayed up late and woke up at 7.  Feeling off.  Immediately, I knew something was not right in my equilibrium.  A touch hungover and coffee did not taste all that great.  Obviously something was not right about that.  Typically I wake, daily, and make coffee or buy an Americano to start my day off right.
I called Sara to mention that running would not be available to me as a cold was settling into my body.  I hated to do this but felt postponing the run would be preferable to antagonizing my throat.  She agreed to go for a walk instead.  We discussed our upcoming trip to Key West and how we needed to figure out lodging and a flight.  Flights to Key West in January are not reasonable.  Either time wise, money or both.  I have little interest in flying to Orlando.  Then to Miami and eventually land in Key West which was one of the proposed itineraries.  We are still trying to decide the best route to Key West.
As my afternoon progressed, it became more difficult to speak.  I bought some vitamin C lozenges and cough drops.  I was armed and equipped to fully battle this cold.  I inhaled hot water with lemon and honey and waited to be sent home from work.  I thought I could manage the evening until it became increasingly difficult to speak.  I was losing my voice and knew I sounded like shit.  People's reactions to me were all similar.  I tried to not talk but that didn't really work out very well.  Eventually my shift came to a close and so I picked up Epsom salt to take a bath, local honey and hoped to find chicken noodle soup.  No such luck on that.  However, the bath helped as did the honey for tea at home.  My friend made me spicy soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Hit the spot.  I tried to stay up but knew my body wanted to rest. 
I have experienced laryngitis on one other occasion in my life.  I think back to the contributing factors of how that occurred.  While living in Phoenix and hoping to open a restaurant.  Lots of work, little time to do yoga and/or run, eating sporadically and not the most healthy, drinking and sacrificing sleep.  I remember working that first week and suddenly not being able to speak.  The owner looked at me and said--Why do you sound like such shit?  Go Home!
I think it took a few days to recover.  Rest.  Kindness.  No wine.
I googled symptoms and how to combat the laryngitis.  Avoid spicy food (I ate spicy soup last night and it was delicious).  Avoid coffee.  Well that is not going to happen.  I am drinking coffee currently.  Avoid alcohol.  Yea, I can do that.  Rest.  Absolutely determined to rest.
In addition to the not being able to speak thing, I have a phlegmy congested nose and slight cough.  Awesome.  Happy Sunday to me.
I am going to my aunts in a bit to realign my chakras and have some meridian work done. I am on the fence about how to spend the rest of my day.  I see rest involved and little talking.  Which is challenging! 
I recognize that I need to take better care of myself in terms of sleep, rest, hydration (essential) and working out.  I get in a routine of what seems decent until I completely shut down.  I think my immune system tried to rebel until it broke.  Laryngitis definitely side lined me.  I just want to sleep and eat soup.  Or take many many naps to counter the late nights and wine inspired conversations.
I will recover and feel better. Just a reminder to take care of myself.  I think of the shoulder injury which interrupted my yoga practice for almost a week.  Everything is related.  It's just about how you look at it.
Today, I will rest.  Drink lots of water and take care of myself.  Everything else will work itself out!

Monday, November 16, 2015

current yoga concerns

I never thought I would actually say this....I miss yoga in Santa Fe.  There.  Said it.  Admitted it.  It is preferable, ironically, to what I am encountering in Denver. 
The best yoga scene/community that I have found is in Phoenix.  Power driven, loud music (hip hop in most cases), hot (yes, super hot in addition to the 120+ degree days in the Valley of the Sun...they never back off the opportunity to increase the temperature in the room).  They offer set sequence classes that although does not resonate with me, is incredibly popular. I would bounce around a few studios mostly stalking instructors that I found challenging.  There are several of them there.  And, they inspired me to become certified myself.  I opted to get certified there since the style of asana resonated with me in Phoenix.  I would have loved having the opportunity to attend more studios that offered vinyasa flow as opposed to the sequence.  Ultimately, I miss the yoga in Phoenix.
Santa Fe has a yoga scene.  I found it more spiritual driven with chanting and soft music.  I struggled to not plateau or become uninspired with the experience I was encountering.  I wanted to make it work and so I attended instructor's classes that I enjoyed.  I forced myself to embrace chanting and tried to tune out the terrible music and instead focus on my breathing.  There was an instructor that I enjoyed her flow until she began playing covers in her playlist.  I considered bringing headphones in to tune out the shitty music but felt it would not be well received.  Eventually, I found mysore classes that pushed me physically.  As well as I discovered the best instructor in Santa Fe that really developed my practice.  Paige is awesome.  Her music I could overlook as she helped strengthen my practice and push my limits.  I was sad to tell her I would be relocating to Denver since I would have loved to continue to practice with her.  She is a badass! 
I return to Denver thinking that since it is a city that the yoga will be similar to the experience I had in Phoenix.  It's not.  It's slow going, not spiritual or chanting driven like Santa Fe and definitely not heat inspired like Phoenix.  The hot classes say they are 80+ degrees but it doesn't feel hot.  I don't sweat or detox like I anticipate in attending classes in Phoenix.  I am still searching for a studio to call home and I am sure that I will find it.  I'm just frustrated that I am having to start over, again.  I prefer power vinyasa classes.  It did take me awhile to find this in Santa Fe as well as Phoenix.  It's all a process.  I have found a few instructors here that are great.  Few and far between.  I had an instructor tell me that it was not available for me to kick up into head stand from a forward fold.  I was shocked and it immediately took me out of the present moment of the class.  No longer was I focusing on the breathing.  No, I was pissed.  I wanted to kick up into headstand since I was bored with the sequence they offered.  And, physically, it felt good.  I have been dealing with a nagging right shoulder injury where I have backed off a lot of the arm balancing to not further aggravate my shoulder.  I couldn't believe it.  During my training, a fellow instructor described vinyasa flow as a wild animal.  There would always be people who modified the poses or showed off.  You couldn't control it as a teacher.  I would agree and tried to exemplify that the other day but was stopped.  Curious.
I will continue to check out studios and hope to find a home.  I like the challenge of a vinyasa flow and know that I need structure from ashtanga.  I benefit from both greatly.
Today, I have an upcoming yoga therapy class.  I hope to address the shoulder injury and heal it.  I am ready to move forward.  That or find a chiropractor.  That might be the end result.  My stubbornness will only allow so much pain before I break.  Enjoy your Monday!

living life, fully, every day

Life is short.  As previously discussed in my world, it is something that I recognize from direct experience with it.  When my world changed in an instant, I chose to alter my life.  I chose travel.  Something that I am passionate about.  No longer would I wait to go experience other countries for when it appeared fiscally sound for me.  No, I would make it a priority to travel as my reality could change at any point.
When I get in a rut, or routine, of negative thinking or pattern building I am reminded of how short life is by seeing someone I know experiencing a loss or dying themselves.  I don't need a reminder.  I know how life can change in an instant.  This past spring an old boss went running with his wife and collapsed.  I found out about this from social media and reached out to people that were associated with Marc.  Since he was Brian's boss, as well as mine for a time, all of the emotions of losing Brian came back. I remember Marc speaking at the celebration life, how he helped spearhead a scholarship foundation on Brian's behalf and how much he loved his kids.  My heart ached for my loss and then, too, for his wife.  I was familiar with what her new journey would look like.  Hers differed from mine as she had kids to be strong for.  Hearing of Marc's loss motivated me to remember to be happy and fully engaged in my life.
The most recent reminder of how essential it is to experience life is a classmate of mine.  We had not spoken, in person, since the early 90's.  We were friends on social media and caught up, that way, seven or eight years ago.  I would see snippets of her life in my news feed and enjoyed the photos of her family.  I saw her family grow to four children and she appeared very happy in her life. 
I remember Lacey, most, from attending a baseball game with her when I was ten years old.  Her parents took us to Kansas City to watch a Royals/Rangers game.  I was so excited.  Her parents treated us to hot dogs, sodas, cotton candy.  We drove back to Salina and I was dropped off at my house later than anticipated.  My mom grounded me.  I remember that part, too.  Being in trouble and not caring since the baseball game was epic.  They lost but everything else about it was fantastic.  Seeing part of a city and feeling the energy of the stadium.
After college, I bolted from Kansas and hopped around the southwest (where I am still).  I like the desert and I love city life.  While in Phoenix, I worked in a bar where baseball was followed and I found myself needing to pay attention to what was going on.  Granted, this was in the early 2000's when Arizona was in the pennant race and won the world series.  I do enjoy watching the diamondbacks as well as the rockies.  I have spent ten years in Denver which would explain why I follow them.  Being a Kansas girl, at heart, I watched the Royals, too.  There was interest in their standings, over the years, and then, excitement in the last few years as they have emerged as contenders and champions this year.  After they won the series, I reached out to Lacey as she was one of the first people I thought of.  I knew she loved the Royals from attending that game with her as well as seeing her posts on face book.  One of her daughters is named after a previous player.  Lacey loved the Royals and was a true fan through the lean years she remained hopeful that they would turn it around. 
I posted something on her wall about the championship win and she responded.  I felt nostalgic of my childhood and glad that I had the opportunity to reach out to her.  Five days later, I saw a post that shocked me.  People were posting RIP on her wall and I was confused until I looked into it more.  A week ago she was visiting her father in law with her husband and was hit by a car.  Just like that, her world changed.  I called my sister, Michaela, in shock, to relate the news.  She spoke to my sister, Jade, and my mom found out and called me the following day.  She wanted to know if I would make it back for the funeral and if I would not be able to, if she should go in my place.  I asked her to attend and reach out to Lacey's family on my behalf.  It is tragic.  Beyond tragic what happened and for no reason.  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to communicate with her and that she responded.  I am greatly saddened by what happened.  She was a spunky girl and I am sure a vibrant, beautiful adult who loved life and all of those people in her world. 
I am grateful to my mom who went to the wake and expressed gratitude for the girl that I knew to her family.  I am thankful that I wanted to contact Lacey after the Royal's victory.  Take time to say what you mean to people who are important to you.  Be kind, everyday, and enjoy your life.  Celebrate, discover, explore, eat, travel, drink wine--do what makes you thrive!  And love those around you.
I hope your week begins on a high note.  I have yoga and a new perspective of life.  I choose being present and happy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

shoulder pain and what I think it is related to

For the last week, I have experienced shoulder pain.  Specifically, irritation on my scapula/rhomboid region on the right side.  At first, I chalked it up to sleeping on it wrong.  I tend to sleep on my right side regardless of how I begin the night.  Sleeping on my stomach is not really an option as it is not comfortable in my opinion.  I have been trying to find comfort in this position for the last week, believe me. 
In addition, I have taken salt baths, applied arnica cream, avoided yoga and instead did light stretching, complained about it and received some body work from my aunt.  She is a massage therapist and last Sunday, I needed to have my shoulder worked on.  She reiterated the importance of arnica cream, apple cider vinegar, salt baths and hydrating.  This irritation has persisted and I believe that stress (returning to Denver, work, car problems) have added to this condition.  I think about the emotions tied to the shoulder region and how I am carrying that stress on a daily basis.  Ironically, I had arranged a reading with a medium prior to my shoulder getting all wonky.  I wanted an idea of what the beginning of this journey would be like.  I wanted confirmation that I had made the right decision in returning home.  Of course, I felt confident that I had made the best decision for me in opting to move back to Denver as opposed to staying in Santa Fe or heading west. 
Denver is where I became an adult.  I found true love and it was a wonderful base for me to travel.  I managed 10-12 mini trips annually and I always felt the rush of love when I returned to the city.  I knew that I had made the right choice.  Recognizing that it is important to identify the love aspect.  I met the love of my life in 2002 while working at a catering company.  I spent the next three and half years with this beautiful man who adored me and our life together.  He was an old soul and always told me that he would die young.  He was right.  At 23 years old, he died and altered the course of my life.  It's almost been ten years since that terrible night I received the news that Brian had died.  I traveled and tried to grieve/heal in that way.  Grief counseling did not seem like my way.  I wanted to experience life and met many people along that time who had lost loved ones or directly dealt with sickness themselves.  I was sad.  Very sad for a long time.  I missed my heart.
Eventually, I relocated to break up with Denver for awhile.  Or that is how I like to look at it.  I had become comfortable in my routine.   Work, travel frequently, hang out with friends, repeat.  I was not interested in dating in spite of the fact that time kept moving on and people questioned my decision to not date.  I thought a new city would introduce me to something new, different and perhaps a desire to date.  Or make myself available to date available men. I did go that route for some time.  Seemed easier and protected my heart. 
Santa Fe brought me closer to Denver if nothing else.  It challenged me to grow and choose what I truly wanted out of life.  Inspired me to learn more and get certified for yoga.  Something that I had been thinking about for quite a while.  It motivated me to identify what I think I am capable of doing.  Which brings me back to Denver.  I am home, thankfully.  So grateful.  But it brings back all of these emotions (sadness, hurt, grief) and I have managed to lock away. 
Returning to Denver represents Brian, my life with him and the loss of him.  It hurts and as a result I have this nagging pain in my shoulder blades. I do believe that is truly part of the equation.  In addition to the sleeping on it wrong and work stress.  Today is a new day and I will return to yoga and embrace life.  I have a wonderful life and recently have been spending a fair amount of time with a great friend/companion.  I am ready to be whole again.
Reiki might be in my future or some sort of yoga therapy.  I brought up the medium as she touched on the grief aspect and suggested I speak to a counselor or someone.  Since Tuesday, I have been reflecting on love, loss and seeing that there is some credence in what Paige suggested.  From my yoga training, I sat through meditation, yoga therapy and chakra sessions.  Energy work to be specific.  I think I have been working towards this since choosing to become certified for yoga.  I love the physical aspect of yoga and forced myself to attend some of the other classes dealing with other limbs of the yoga practice.  I guess it is time to explore the energy work and meditative aspects associated with yoga.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

car emissions and frustrations

Happy Thursday!  It's a beautiful day in Denver.  Stunning.  I arrived in October, flew to Phoenix to finish teacher training, returned to Denver to settle my driver's license, car issues, etc.  The car overtook my life and livelihood.  Of course, I recognized that I was neglecting other areas of my life.  Fixing my laptop, finding a place to live, job in order to become a legal resident of Colorado again. 
In my mind, it was easy.  Take proof of address to dmv office that deals directly with driver's licenses.  Check.  Easy.  Drive car to emissions.  Pass test and proceed to tag office to retain the license plate.  I had it all planned out.  I had two weeks before my license plates expired which gave me plenty of time to deal with the car stuff.  I booked a trip to Chicago to celebrate my decision to return to Denver and thank Maghan for letting me store my stuff at his place.  Completely impulsive trip and again, worked into my time line.  I could pass the emissions test with a few days to spare if there was an issue. 
Let's just say I was na├»ve.  I should have dealt with the car the minute I returned to Denver instead of gallivanting in Phoenix and Chicago.  I went to the nearest emissions testing station and felt confident.  I had warmed my car up (as told by my Santa Fe mechanic) and gotten to the station early.  I waited in the designated area and paid when called to leave the station.  The guy let me pay and then told me I had failed the test.  He handed me some pamphlet with suggested mechanics and sent me on my way.
I had a plan.  I would call my Denver mechanics and arrange a service.  They were familiar with my car since they had worked on Veronica for six years.  I even had their number in my phone still.  I called them and connected with a no longer functioning phone.  Crap! 
At this point, I tried to calm down.  There was a solution and I could find it.  I would not have to seek out one of the mechanics on the pamphlet and be scammed.  I called my guy in Santa Fe and explained that I could use a recommendation from him of a mechanic here if he knew of some one.  He responded quickly with a name of a Volvo mechanic in Denver.  I called this place on Tuesday to arrange a looksee the following Monday. I was positive it would be a quick fix and so I focused on my trip to Chicago. 
Chicago was awesome.  Foodie friendly and fantastic.  And, I had managed to get a job prior to the trip that I would return home to.  Everything was looking up.  I drove to the mechanics the following Monday morning.  Introduced myself and told them I would wait.  My plan was to have them do some magic on my car and then I would drive to the nearest station, pass emissions and head directly to purchase license plates.  I was armed with my phone, head phones and a book.  Figured it would take an hour, maybe two.
I sat there with little interaction and waited.  I tried to occupy my time by reading.  I texted my friend, Jenn, that I would be needing to push our lunch date back.  It was not going as planned.  I sat at the mechanics for three plus hours before they offered me a loaner car.  I took the car and headed back to my place.  A few hours later, they contacted me that my car was done.  They suggested going directly to emissions and having my test performed.  I drove to the nearest station and watched the guys test my car.  I felt good and still had time to get my license plate. 
I paid the guy and he sold me my Vin verification that I knew I needed for the license plate.  Then he told me that I failed the emissions test.  I was furious.  Why sell me Vin verification knowing that I would not be able to get a license plate without passing the emissions test?
I asked the guy.  What do I do now as I just spent $300 on my car to prepare it for the emissions test?  Smugly, he suggested that I return to the mechanics and have them fix it more.  He made some comment that I would spend up to $800 before the state would waive the emissions test.  Jerk.
I drove back to the mechanics and expressed my frustration with the emissions system.  They agreed to look at my car the following morning and told me that they were at a loss.  It should have passed. They also told me that a loaner car would not be available as they were all spoken for. 
The following day I drove to their shop, hired an uber and waited to hear back from them.  I opted to go to a yoga class to distract myself and the car problems.  From yoga, I walked downtown to have lunch and wait to hear about my car.  I picked my car up and returned to the original testing center.  My mechanics told me to not turn the car off until I was told to.  I was determined to get the emissions test passed and move on with my life. 
The car failed and I almost cried.  I had no idea what to do. I asked the technician what I could do at this point.  My mechanics had had my car for almost 11 hours at this point and found nothing that would suggest not passing this test.  The guy handed me a pamphlet and suggested I call the state to see what they recommended.  I set up an appointment with a diagnostic for the following morning.  I called the mechanics to inform them that the car had failed again.  They were incredulous.  Told me to let them know what the technician said.  They felt confident that he would pass the car as it should have passed.
I drove to Lakewood to have my car assessed.  Arrived promptly at 8:00 am and waited in their office while they tested my car.  The man approached me with--it mostly passed.  How long do you intend to have this car? 
Then he proceeded to tell me he would not be passing the car. That I needed a catalytic converter in his opinion and that if I bought that, the car would pass.  I told him that the mechanics had looked at the converter the minute I brought the car in and they ruled that out.  He felt that they should reconsider and I told him that it was an expensive part that I wasn't interested in buying.  I was irritated by the process and frustrated that there was such little sympathy for my situation.  This technician told me that I could choose to direct my anger at him but I should remember that he had just conducted a free testing of my car.  He walked away from me after saying this.  I wanted to punch him in the throat.
I called my mechanics and we both spoke of how frustrating this had become.  They suggested getting my car tagged in the mountains to avoid emissions.  I considered it as I was at a loss as to how to proceed.  My car had been tested four times and each time the carbon emissions had decreased.  It wasn't the catalytic converter.  I had a new oxygen sensor put on.  It wasn't adding up.
I dropped my car off and waited.  I knew they were super busy from sitting in their waiting room on Monday.  Their phone had rung off the hook.  I knew that my car would be at their shop the majority of the day.
I waited til about noon to see the progress of my car.  I could have waited but I was impatient.  Of course, they had not yet worked on my car and so I went to lunch.  About 3 pm, I called the mechanic to see what my next step was. I knew that the loaner car was due back at 5.  The guy I spoke to told me that the mechanic had taken my car to emissions to have it passed.  Talk about going above and beyond.  I was shocked at their graciousness and commitment to my car.
I dropped the car off at five.  Hoping to hear that it had passed emissions.  Instead, it failed again.  The mechanic told me to ask for a waiver as I had surpassed the minimum repair limit of $715.  I could qualify for a waiver if I met with a state guy.  I called to arrange the appointment and expressed my frustration with this process.  I had oodles of hours at the mechanics shop, five failed emissions tests, uber rides, not being able to work and wasted gas from trekking all over Denver trying to pass my test.  The gentleman I spoke to did not care that I had spent time or money on this situation.  He only wanted to verify that I had the repair work done and that it was valued at $715.  Oh, and that the inspector would not be available to see the car until Monday.  This was Friday in November.  Meaning my car was now illegally driving in Denver.  My plates had expired.  I couldn't get a temp tag without emissions and I was screwed for the weekend.
I waited til Monday for the guy to contact me.  Thankfully, he did, first thing.  We arranged a meeting and I was thankful for his assistance.  He saw my car, had all of my receipts and gave me a waiver.  FINALLY.
I told him of my experience.  All of the jerks that I had encountered along the way.  He was empathetic and for that, he redeemed part of the bad taste I had in my mouth for the emissions process.  At least he saw that I was trying to do the right thing and I had committed to getting my car tagged in the best possible way. 
I did, too.  I am now a legal resident of Colorado with the license plates to prove it.  I have my license, insurance and can move forward with settling into life.  I am thankful for my friends who have listened to me rant about this for the last two weeks.
And today, I will focus on work and establishing roots here. I am back!