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Carnage
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Took the car into the shop this morning, and ambled over to Mama's Royal Café to have breakfast. I ran into Lisa and Doug there, and we wound up eating together and hanging out, so that was a pleasant couple of hours. Then I meandered up to the Piedmont Ave. library and hung out in the quiet study area. I wrote a review of Kiernan's To Charles Fort, with Love, and read Sterling's The Zenith Angle (no plot, but I liked it). I checked out Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven and a book about bears. (There's something bear-related happening in my subconscious. Story, novel, I dunno. I thought I was through with bears when I put one in Blood Engines, but apparently not. I'm hyper-aware of bears.) Then I went and sat on a park bench for a while and read Robert Nathan's Portrait of Jennie, which is great stuff, very wonderfully written, even if it is a one-true-love timeslip romance, which is normally a kind of story I have trouble with. But the artist POV, wow, really spot-on.

So finally I heard from the mechanic. Good thing I took books out from the library, because I'm not going to be able to afford to buy any books for a while.

My car is in bad shape. The mechanic (who we've worked with for years, and trust) says it's a rolling death trap, more or less. The brakes are on the verge of catastrophic failure. The wheel bearings could freeze and go flying off at any moment. And so on.

It's a tricky situation, too, because the cost to fix the car is very close to what the car is worth. But I talked to Heather, and when we factor in the hassle it would take to sell this car and find another used car to buy, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't really work out in favor of getting a new car. We're far busier than usual this year. Plus, this car isn't safe to drive, so trying to buy a new car would mean an indefinite period of riding the bus, which is rough in a lot of ways. So we decided to grit our teeth and pay to get the car fixed. The good news is the engine seems okay (only has about 120,000 miles on it anyway), and our mechanic says that once the brakes and wheel bearings are fixed, the car should be in good shape for a long while. We were talking about trying to find a new car next year anyway, so we'll get the old car fixed, let it get us through this year and into next year, and then buy a new one. (Well, for a given value of "new" -- new to us!) We want something more family-friendly, rather than a low-slung two-door like we have now, since we're talking about having kids in a couple of years. We're also sort of vaguely hoping I'll sell another novel sometime in the course of the next year, which would help us buy another car.

Being a writer is tough. If I knew I was going to sell another novel, I wouldn't be too stressed, because we can coast through a lean period without much worry if we know a period of bounty is coming. But nothing is certain in this business. Sigh.

The cost isn't catastrophic, but it's, hmm, annoying. I can only pay for about half of it without dipping into the wedding fund. So if any of you editors who're sitting on my stories read this, it would be a good time to get in touch with me with acceptances. :) In the meantime, no sushi dinners or weekend vacations to Santa Cruz for us, and the entertainment budget is limited to World of Warcraft and whatever comes via Netflix. And for eating, well, boca burgers and tater tots and scrambled eggs and spaghetti can go a long way...

I took the bus home. The bus ride from the mechanic to my house is short, which is nice. I could've walked it, if I'd had decent shoes on instead of sandals, but it'd be kind of a long walk along an unlovely path, so it's just as well.

For now, though, I still have a few hours of my day off left, so I guess I should do some writing to make some money...



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