Most adults have one or have access to one. They come in various colors, sizes, shapes and, of course, horsepower. I call mine The Beast. It’s really a very zippy little reddish bronze 2006 Mazda 3 approaching 90,000 miles. But, it can suck money out of my bank account faster than it can zoom zoom down the highway. It constantly needs to be fed, maintained, insured and taxed as expensive personal property. And, now, it also needs repairs. As I zipped down the highway a few weeks ago, suddenly…thud, jerk, AT and engine lights on…ugh. After arriving at my destination, a ride fraught with anguished looks at my dash and praying there would be no more thuds or jerks, I called Martin for reassurance.

And, then, one dealership appointment later the diagnosis was “reading no codes”. You know, everything’s electronic these days. So, if a machine tells the mechanic it can’t find anything in this machine, The Beast, we all believe the diagnostic machine. Independent thinking and the good ol’ days of a person ferreting out what’s ailing The Beast are gone. But, fear not, I left with a list of things the machine did find wrong with The Beast along with an estimated cost to repair of $775.

My dealer, wanting to give me the best possible customer service, followed up with two automated phone calls affording me the chance to hit a button, speak with a live person and make an appointment for said repairs. And, just in case I hadn’t gotten the phone calls, they sent me a couple of emails as further reminder. Best of all, the sales manager sent me a letter via the ever reliable old fashioned US Postal Service, telling me how the dealership was short on premium inventory like The Beast and if I traded it in, I could count on them to give me a good deal on a new beast or one of their premium used beasts. Premium used beasts? Hmmm…wait just a minute. You just told me you’re short on inventory, which is why you desperately need The Beast so, my choices on premium used beasts must be non-existent. And, besides, if I’m going to trade for another premium used beast, why don’t I just keep the premium used beast I have? And, one other thing, how is The Beast premium anything when it needs repairs?

Oh, I see, you’d have a chance to sell me a shiny new beast. Whoaaaa Nelly. A shiny new beast would not only need to be fed and maintained, my insurance and beast taxes would increase. Oh, sure, it would be a while before it needed any repairs but how would I pay for it? I’d have to rob my retirement nest egg or worse yet, have a beast payment. A loan!?! I’m adverse to loans. They cost even more money. What with interest and all. While I ruminated on all the ins and outs of new beast versus old premium beast needing repairs, suddenly, thud, jerk, stuck in third gear, AT and engine lights on and me praying I’m not about to be sitting on the side of the road with The Beast broken down. Luckily, as I came to a complete stop at a red light, The Beast calmed down and once again I made it to my destination.

I don’t usually procrastinate but it took me a week and two more experiences including thud, jerk, stuck in third gear before I called the dealership and said, “O.K. I’m coming in.” This time, the machine found “codes” in The Beast saying the electronics weren’t sending the automatic transmission the proper signals. So, now, a well-trained human could actually go to work on The Beast, costing me just another $525.79 to get rid of the thud, jerk, stuck in third gear along with the annoying engine and AT lights. Yes, I had the other repairs done, too. You see, by procrastinating, I hung out long enough for the dealership to send me a Halloween Spooktacular Savings email taking 10% off any recommended service through year-end. And, big picture, I only had to rob my retirement nest egg for a fraction of the cost of a new beast or about 3 beast payments. I’m still debt-free. And, with only 88,000 miles on it, at only 7,000 miles per year and periodic repairs, The Beast should last me another 10 years. That’s right. I plan on being an old lady driving a junker beast. But, the really, really, really good news…I’m retired.


Booted the kitties out of our bed last New Year’s Eve. This was a joint New Year’s resolution made by my husband, Martin, and me. So, after 5 years of sleeping on the edge of consciousness and feeling tired all day, we decided to bite the bullet, shut the door to our room at night and show some tough love to the three members of our furry family who slept in our bed. We love these little cats but 2 of the 3 spent a good part of the night laying on our feet or legs, snuggled up in our armpits or smothering us in our sleep. I would wake up in the night and want to turn over. But, we can’t disturb the little darling stretched across our chest with paws in face, now, can we? Often I’d just decide I was turning over anyway only to have Portia jump up and walk over my body from front to back until she figured out where my face was by which time I’d be wide awake and wishing I’d never moved. Trio likes to lay on our legs so she was a little easier to get around but, still, we didn’t spontaneously stretch out one moment and curl up the next lest we disturb the cat! And little Carmen (the baby cat) had her internal clock set for 5 a.m. No alarm clock needed at our house as she came meowing onto the bed licking Martin’s nose as if to say, “You’ve had enough sleep. Up and at ’em and get my breakfast first!”.

After talking about shutting them out for months or maybe even the last year, we decided enough was enough. We were taking back our queen sized bed and “the girls”, as we affectionately call them, would have to fend for themselves on the sofas or in the guest room. So January 1 we closed the door, I put in ear plugs and we settled in for what we thought would be a night of haunting, pleading cries outside our bedroom door. Hush! What’s that I hear? An occasional few seconds of meowing by our little Carmie? That’s it? As I pulled out my earplugs halfway through the night, I felt almost disappointed. Portia and Trio didn’t make so much as a “mew” and eventually Carmen quieted. It took a few nights for Carmen to stop altogether but all our worst fears of the girls being traumatized and our not being able to sleep anyway for the constant crying was nothing more than the imaginative over-exaggerations of our minds.

Our minds tend to do that, don’t they? Make things out to be worse than what reality unfolds to us. So we put off for 5 years, or sometimes forever, doing something we want to do or become or experience because we allow our mental wanderings to convince us all kinds of disastrous consequences await. Reality,as it turns out, is a good night’s sleep, rested days and three cats who share the guest bed, sofas and chairs. I get to dream again in restful REM sleep. Maybe happiness, maybe spirit lies in putting aside the self-doubts, the fears of failure, closing the door on the current situation and, instead, pursuing your dreams.