Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good Reads and Off Road Trippin'

I'm reading again and just finished The Broke Diaries (Nissel). At first I didn't like the book. The writer seemed to be tryig too hard to sound hip, too hard to be funny but I read it through and though it's not exactly literary, it was ok. I even found myself laughing at the last entry.

On to ZZ Packer and Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. I bought the book for $3 at Big Lots yesterday, (More on that later.) I was in the store with (E) to buy Motor oil and Antifreeze. There was a new display of books. I've read about Packer and how good her writing is. I'm into the first story about a black brownie troop mixing it up with a white troop.

I was feeling energetic when I woke up yesterday and thought it would be nice to maybe go down to the river and try out the new Sony, take some pictures and treat myself lunch downtown. I thought I'd start by dropping off some unwanted clothes at a community center (E) had told me about, so I called her. (E) does not like driving on major thoroughfares. She is Queen of the inner city back roads. I am sure I will read headlines about her being killed one stormy night while driving on the wrong side of town. I followed E's directions through winding streets in industrial neighborhoods, to a down and out part of town with mega churches on every corner. I think I know why people in the ghetto are poor. They cough up their meager earnings to keep these churches operating. The House of Prayer founded by Daddy Grace has a franchise in our town. The church is bigger than the Municipal Building. Behind it is a palatial residence for the Bishop who only occupies it during infrequent visits. I imagine the church elders sitting around playing bid whist while nubile virgins fan them. After counting the money, the Bishop leaves. The church also has a stable of busses which I assume,keeps members connected to the Mother Ship with visits to the big HOPFAP up north.

Clumps of men kept warm by burning trash in oil drums in empty lots. Others danced around on corners with hoods over their heads and hands jammed into pockets. If a corner didn't have a church on it, there were boarded up stores and half finished building projects. There were also signs of new residential construction next to dilapidated shotgun shacks. Not a park or grocery store in sight.(E) pointed out a soon to open soup kitchen.

The object of our trip was closed. (E) had been sure the center would be open on a Saturday, I on the other hand, had had my doubts. I was in a hurry to get back to the other side of town. Being carjacked for tires and the Dolce and Gabana purse (E) carried was not my idea of week-end fun.

If you don't already know that cars have a wicked inner time clock which commands them to break down at the worse times, I am here now to enlighten you. I love my car. It has never and I mean NEVER left me stranded. I have one car payment left and I've prayed for months that the car will survive for another few years; just long enough for me to pay off Shell Oil; who I wouldn't owe if they hadn't jacked up gas prices last year. I'd also like to get Sears off my back. I don't shop at Sears often but I have carried a balance on my account for years because I made a few necessary purchases and I only send the minimum payment each month.

My prayers for a quick get away were jeapordized when the car's Check Gauges light came on. (E) authoritatively announced it was the alternator. No doubt about it. Hers went out last week. I suspected a fluid leak. There was a telltale spont on th efloor of the garage I'd ignored for two weeks. That is why I ended up in Big Lots looking for antifreeze and oil. I figured if it wasn't one, it was the other. Back at (E's) house, I gave the car a drink and we headed for Tires Plus.

I have written about Rich before, we see each other every time the car needs attention. I always know it's going to be bad news but Rich is always empathetic and sometimes, he even tells me he loves me the way your big brother would when you cry out that bullies are after you. Yea, Rich can make everything all righr but his services come with a price. Yesterday's tally was $879 and some change. "But hold on Ms. B. I'm going to give you a discount." (He always says that.) We knocked off the brake fluid flush and the final total was $600 and wouldn't ya know the good people at the credit place were just happy to approve my purchjase. I called Rich a Pimp because he can talk me into anything and he just laughed.

After that (E) and I headed for some grub. I'll pick the car up later today after she gets home from one of those mega churches on the wrong side of town. When I get in her car this time, I'm taking my Mace just in case.