Monday, May 21, 2012

Bastille Day 2010

Not long after Americans celebrate their Independence Day every July 4th, the French honor a similar holiday ten days later. This is known as Bastille Day. I could go into the history of why the Bastille is important, (even though the monument in Paris dedicated to this event is tiny and underwhelming just like a lot of things I've experienced lately), but that's not what this post is about at all. Two years ago on July 14th, while the French were setting off lots of fireworks, wearing scarves, and eating patriotic colored cheeses (I'm really not sure how they celebrate to be honest), I was having quite possibly one of the worst days of my life.

That's it?

Let's rewind the clock back to Summer 2010. (*Diddly do diddly do diddly do*) I had basically been unemployed since mid-November, even though I had recently attained an expensive but ultimately worthless college degree. I had briefly worked for the Census, (oh god, the horror!), and was reading scripts for a screenwriting competition at $10 a pop under the table (shhhh!), but still drowning financially. My unemployment checks didn't even cover half of my rent, and I was tearing through my savings just to afford little luxuries like the occasional ramen noodle packet and electricity.

Oh life sustaining yet nutrition less white carbs.
So delicious when you don't depend on them for survival.
 I may have this for lunch just because I can now afford real food.
Thankfully, my parents were able to take over my exorbitant student loan payments temporarily, which was a major financial hardship for them. I was also hugely overweight at the time. Not that this was unusual for me, but it certainly didn't help matters. I didn't really know that many people in Los Angeles, even though I'd lived there for a whole year. So basically I just sat alone in my apartment all day desperately combing Craigslist and other job listing sites for anything to keep the tiny South Central studio roof over my head.

It was a shitty, shitty period in my life. Weeks would go by when the only time I would step outside my door would be to move Stan from one side of the street to the other for street sweeping days. If it wasn't for this simple, yet very important task, I would have had no concept of what day of the week it was. Street sweeping was the only thing that gave me structure in my life. That's why I awoke with a jolt when I heard the obnoxious beeping of the street sweeper at 8am on Wednesday, July 14th, two hours before it was due. I had been planning on moving my car right before 10am, so I bolted out of my iron screen door wearing only a t-shirt and bright yellow happy face boxers. Sure enough, the entire side of the street was empty, and Stan was nowhere to be found. A helpful neighbor sitting on his stoop informed me that my car had been towed.
It's sad when this is the only thing giving your life structure.
This was a first for me. I had never had a car towed or even legitimately ticketed in my life! (Ok, there was that time six months earlier when I got a fix-it ticket for a busted headlight because Stan's cover fell off and lightbulbs always seem to burst). I was flabbergasted, flummoxed, and in all other ways bewildered. Luckily, said helpful neighbor knew where it had been taken and the impound was within walking distance. So I got dressed and walked the streets of South Central to rescue Stan. Remember how I said I was unemployed and broke at the time? I think I had maybe $40 in my checking account and that was it. My credit card practically screamed out loud when I had to fork over $300 to retrieve my beloved vehicle. It turns out that they were paving the street that day, without notifying the residents of Mont Clair St. They did post signs saying 'temporary tow away', but they did not have a date on them and I swear they had been up since the previous week. You know how they tend to leave those signs up for weeks after completion...


When I got to Stan, I noticed that not only was I towed, but there was a ticket on his windshield. SERIOUSLY? I didn't know you could be both towed and ticketed for the same offense. Yup. You can. The ticket was only for $60, which doesn't seem like that much. However, this paltry amount would have literally bankrupted me. I was so depressed that I didn't feel like going home after the impound. So I drove. I ended up all the way in Santa Monica, just wandering the beautiful, clean, smoke-free streets. Until I found the King's Head pub. And proceeded to drown my sorrows with cider and over-priced fish and chips. (Hey, I'd already spent $300 on my only credit card, what's another $30 at this point?). After the pub, I walked around the beach and pier, being all classy and day drunk, wallowing in misery. I had to stay there for several hours until my ill-advised mini-bender wore off and I could go home.

Ye Olde King's Head Pub. 

But I ended up fighting the ticket. I sent in a letter to the Parking Violations stating my case, and waited. And waited. To this day, I never received anything from them. Then my dad gets a letter from the DMV saying that I can't re-register my car until it's paid. Only now it's $154 with the late fee.

"We could certainly party with the Haiti-ans!"

WHAT THE HELL????!!! I had to call in three separate times and wait on hold for them to determine that they sent the letter with the decision that the ticket was valid (B.S.) to the wrong address. Luckily, I was able to sweet-talk them into waiving that late fee, "totally based on my powers of persuasion." Cher Horowitz would have been proud. And since I now have a job (though I still manage to be broke all the time), it's not quite as painful to shell out $60. But since the registration deadline is ticking, I had to make sure that the check got mailed today. Because naturally this is the one case where you can't pay over the phone or online. Argh. So I literally chased down the mail man, who happened to be driving by. He was very friendly and took my letter for me. He was also a champ and didn't laugh when the back full of donated clothes I happened to be carrying split all over the road. (I was going to make a pit-stop at the Salvation Army barrel thingy). It was quite the slapsticky sight to see.

Clearly Sadie has a "Stan" of her own!
Super long, depressing, and boring story short, this was one of the worst days of my life. The only thing that got me out of my funk was that my adorable, spunky niece Miss Sadie was born the next day. So even though my life was still super crappy, I realized that being an aunt makes it all worthwhile. (Cue the Awwwws here!)

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