Thursday, September 17, 2009

i am not my car


we have an ancient toyota carina - ancient being from the mid-90s. it has 400,000 odd kilometers on it and it uses the occasional (read: weekly) couplea liters of oil. it's dark, boring grey. it has 2 of 4 hubcaps and we did finally put them both on the same side so that it would at least look more or less ok from at least one side. it has no frills whatsoever. no automatic locks or windows. no power steering. but it gets us where we're going (unless we wanted to drive to italy or spain, it might not like going that far). and with car taxes at 150% in this country, we don't even consider replacing it. we have considered not having a car at all and we didn't when we lived in copenhagen, but the reality of where we live is that it would be pretty difficult to get along without a car.

i normally don't put much thought at all into the car. it's there, it serves its purpose and that's it. that's kinda how i was brought up to think about cars. my dad had a old blue chevette that he kept driving until my sister, at the age of 12 (if you recall) finally put it out of its misery. and i had to take my driver's test in that godawful giant old station wagon named lurch.  my first car was a nondescript american-made (i can't even recall the make/model) two-tone brown sedan. the first remotely cool car i had was a little green mustang named iggy that very quickly revealed that it used more oil than gas. tho' during my aberrant years in southern california i got a little car crazy (the peer pressure oh the peer pressure) due to a boyfriend who happened to have two porsches and my little gold pontiac fiero that perfectly matched my hair, i generally could seriously care less about cars.

so it wasn't until we approached the end station that it occurred to me that the blog campers were going to not only see but get into our ancient toyota so i'd better warn them since they probably were far more car people than i am. we had a laugh about it, especially since they approached from the hubcapless side (i should really have parked the other way) and it seemed even worse. but honestly, i didn't really think more about it, except to use it for comic effect in one of my post blog camp posts.

last weekend, the sister-in-law gave us a bad time about the ancient toyota. husband gazed at it mildly, as if it had only just occurred to him that it was getting rather old. because he cares even less than i do. SIL reported that some friend of hers who had met us remarked that it was quite ironic that we had multiple fancy cameras, iPods and macbooks, plus more than one nintendo DS, but we drove that old rust bucket (for the record, there's very little rust on the car, so that's not an entirely fair characterization). middle child's friend apparently had said the same thing. apparently people can't really reconcile wegner chairs, 3 macs (4 if eldest child is here) and a 42" phillips flat screen t.v. with the ancient toyota.


and it made me realize that it's all a matter of perceptions and priorities. we don't define ourselves by our car. at all. and i realize that a lot of people do and that's ok for them. it's just that we don't. which isn't to be high and mighty and all anti-materialistic, because we do define ourselves by a whole lot of other material symbols. like macs and iPods and nikons and designer chairs and pretty refrigerators. husband stubbornly holds onto a 3-year-old sony-ericsson mobile because he extends his not caring to phones (unlike me, i do obsess care about my iPhone). but don't try to take away his iPod Touch or his iPod Shuffle.

the whole car thing is really only a problem when other people, who define themselves by their car,  judge us by our car, because we're not our car. not at all.

18 comments:

spudballoo said...

God, why can't people just mind their own damn business? What you choose to spend your money on is YOUR issue! I hate all that 'oh look at them with their fancy stuff and that old rust bucket'. WHO CARES? Grr.

That is a rant against the nosey parkers btw not you!

I like your car. It's ironic. And it makes me feel better about our Shit Picasso in Old Man Gold. LOL

x

Jelica said...

any car that doesn't live you stranded in the middle of nowhere is a good car in my book, so no problem with the ancient toyota for me :)

Char said...

well, I think people that offer unsolicited advice like that should be prepared to hear back some unsolicited advice about themselves - such as get some manners.

I drove a rust bucket for years until it died on me. I intend to drive my jeep until it dies too.

Ju said...

We've just spent 3 weeks without our car (it was getting fixed) and it was great the freedom it gave me. bizarrely.
But some neighbours kept asking ' where's yor car? How can you live without it?' 'blah blah blah.
Some people....
Anyway, I have just have given you a Zombie Chicken award.:) hope you like it.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

i was kinda hoping you'd post a picture of your car.

Really why bother spending so much money on a car when it can't be used to blog?

Bee said...

I can't bring myself to care about cars, either. I actually think it's cool when people aren't car-obsessed (which is probably a response to growing up in the car state of Texas).

I would also put handbags in the car category. I think of them as utilitarian -- and not a symbol of my worth, monetary or otherwise.

omchelsea said...

How crap. Consumerism is the new black...and it's taking a very long time to fade. I have no problem with my Mac sitting next to a faux seventies sideboard which we rescued from hard rubbish and is frankly hideous, because the sideboard is not necessary to my work or daily wellbeing, When we can afford to, we will replace it with something perfect for our house and our needs. I guess that the credit boom on the last few years got us all used to the idea of having debt but perfect, shiny, STUFF. Yeah, less stuff for me, thanks.

McVal said...

I like the idea of less stuff. I do want a dependable car tho. As for a cell phone, I have a 5 or 6 year old LG that I dearly love! I've tried to replace it with a newer model, but that one broke down, so I insisted on switching back to this one. Plus, none of the new ones have a clip that I can stick on my pants pocket that stays attached to the phone at all times.
I love your dining room, btw. You have great style!

beth said...

I am not my car either...
but my hubby...oh, he is SO his car....

we are night and day that way....which is good and it works for us.....

otherwise, oh that would be so ugly if it didn't....

Just Jules said...

this is the best post I have read in forever!!!!

I love love love it- it makes me smile. BECAUSE you are right (of course)

We are who we are - with or without our "stuff"

To me, you are wise. A thing like a car that runs and is dependable enough is a smart choice. You never get your money back on a new one. A $300 repair is far cheaper then a $300 a month payment on a new one.

Brilliant (oh and second spud -mind your own friggin business people! I like julie's fridge!

The Fragrant Muse said...

Like OP I was hoping for a photo of the car. I like to run mine till they drop and don't give a rats ass about fancy bells and whistles like GPS, as long as it has G-A-S and can G-O! My house on the other hand...I'll spend a month's salary on good lighting for the kitchen.

Kim said...

I enjoyed your post. My last car was a bottom of the range 2nd hand model. I kept on thinking I should get something more suitable to my income, but then wondered if I would like taking it over rough roads and detours. Needless to say I kept the original car (until I wrote it off) and it did me fine.

Elizabeth said...

Great post. Strangely enough I get the same remarks about my old bike and the fact that I bike more than I use the car. I was well into my thirties before I even got my drivers licence. I just love to bike.

And therefore I let the people who make these remarks keep their fear of doing something differently and I keep on biking with a smile on my face and my hair in the wind.

Elizabeth said...

Forgot to mention. What a drop gorgeous lamp you have hanging above the table.

Christina said...

oh yes, me too. i could care less about the way my car looks as long as it gets me to where i need to be.
people often commented that i still used an old tangerine mac, well it made me happy and it worked great. so there! : )
PS: hey beautiful, again- i adore that ring.
xoxo

I am Cat said...

My first car was a bright aquamarine 1995 Ford Escort.

My current car is a 1994 multi colored (paint is chipping in areas) Nissan Centra that sort of... roars.

I love this blog and was able to totally relate to it.

As long as my car gets me from A to B and I take care of it in areas like oil changes and wiper blades, than who cares if its not the prettiest on the street!?

I'm able to spend my money on things that I love... travelling, cameras, and memorable activities. I have no monthly car payments, and many of my friends are stuck paying upwards to 250 a month on their cars, no thank you!

Great blog. Thanks!

rxBambi said...

And this is why I like you. Not because you drive a "rust bucket" but because you are so confident about yourself and who you are that your car doesn't matter, it doesn't define you. Kudos.

bored.mind said...

doesnt really matter what other people think about your car (unless they wanna buy you a new one. hehe). what you want and prioritize is none of their business. what matters is your happy and comfortable--and your car gets you to where you want to go :)