Chrysler Pacifica: Take 2 (Artemisia)

Back in February, before the order of the world collapsed into quarantined chaos, Adam and I bought a new car. It was a high end plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica – far and away the nicest car I have ever owned. This was the car that would see me through the end of my parenting years and the beginning of my camping all the time years! It would be big enough for teenagers and their friends, and for me to convince Adam to buy more camping gear. But it would be guilt free, getting ~50 miles per gallon! Plus heated seats and heated steering wheels and fancy bluetooth stereo systems. It was a gorgeous car.

But before I’d had it even two weeks, I was driving back from New Hampshire with my mom after having dropped Grey off at Camp Wilmot winter weekend when the car flashed a weird warning message. At 11 pm at night on I93 south in 14 degree weather it just …. stopped working. Like, at all. We waited hours for the tow truck to take us to the nearest dealership, and then took a Lyft home. But I was confident they’d fix my car. I mean, it had like a thousand miles on it. It was two weeks old. It was really expensive. Of course it would be ok.

Midnight in the tow truck – there were four of us in the cab! Mom was still recovering from knee surgery. It was 14 degrees. So of course we couldn’t stop giggling.

The dealership they took it to, Bonneville and Sons, said that the error codes had mysteriously disappeared, they couldn’t recreate it, surely it was a fluke. They gave it back to me with a shrug of their shoulders after a few days. I was now nervous. Then COVID hit and no one went anywhere for a while. Finally in May, hiking became an option again and we headed up to do a quick day hike with Thane. On the drive back, at almost the exact same spot, we got the exact same error message. I got to with a tenth of a mile of Bonneville & Sons (I could see it easily from where we were) during business hours. Hooray! I thought! They’ll be able to access the codes! They’re right here! But the service department told me they were leaving in an hour, I’d have to wait for the Chrysler towing to move the car that tenth of a mile, and no. They wouldn’t even look at it. Or help me. It would just sit there over the weekend and then (I thought) the codes would be lost again. I was in tears, and incandescent with the incredibly awful service, and how little they cared. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that angry as a customer, or as little cared about.

Seriously? Come on Bonneville & Sons.

So I had it towed to Massachusetts, to Brigham and Gill where we bought it. They said that there was nothing wrong with the error codes, Brigham and Gill had just deleted them last time.

They replaced a few things and tried a few things and consulted with Chrysler and eventually gave it back to me after a few weeks.

Quality family time

A few weeks later, it happened again, stranding us in a rest stop in New Hampshire – this time on our way UP to our day of relaxing adventures. We left it there, rented a car at Manchester Airport and continued our day (three hours delayed). We moved the car as far south as we could the next day (it crapped out at exit 1 in NH). Then the following day we limped it into the dealership, cleared of all our stuff. The only consolation was that it was definitely and incontrovertibly a lemon of the lemonest variety. There could be no argument. (It has to fail three times to be legally a lemon.)

Goodbye Ruby Rider

But hey! I figured this would work out. I’d just get a new one. What would it take – a few weeks? Well. They had to pay my rental costs, but they only offer $35 a day. If you’re wondering, that is not the value of the car I bought. At all. So I spent most of the summer driving a beat up rental minivan with no Bluetooth capability (I didn’t even know that was still an option) that smelled strongly of the previous occupants smoking addiction and got like 12 mpg. I had to fight for that too – they wanted me to take a smaller car (which, uh, how would I go camping?). But the worst part was the extraordinary and slow and mysterious bureaucracy of the Chrysler process. There’s no documentation, or guidance on what to expect. There’s only being passed along to the next person who has no ability to actually do anything. My fingers itched to do some “process improvement” on whatever the hell they were doing with their internal machinations. It took MONTHS from the day we turned it in for the last time.

Finally, though, we did get the new car! My friends think I absolutely crazy to get the same vehicle again, but other than the bit where it routinely stranded me by the side of the road with 30 seconds warning, I loved it! I really don’t believe that all the Pacificas have this flaw, or they wouldn’t even be able to sell them. I am taking a huge risk, buying an extremely expensive vehicle from a company I know doesn’t take care of the owners of such vehicles. But it is still the only comparable vehicle on the market with fuel efficiency even close to that. And in a saving grace, I was really impressed with how the dealership we bought it from, Brigham and Gill, handled the situation.

We named the new car Artemisia after one of history’s most incredible women. She was a queen, battle-captain, regent and admiral of the Persian fleet with Xerxes during the Peloponnesian War (c. 450 BC). She made the incredibly sexist men of the era respect her, cleverly playing their expectations against them. She’s a woman for whom the name of her husband was unknown. She gets called out by name by Herodotus and Plutarch. She totally needs to have a movie made about her life. Until then, I’ll hope her indomitable spirit keeps her namesake at least on the road! We’ve passed the 1000 mile mark with no issues so far, so fingers crossed!!!

Finally camping with the car I bought to go camping with

#28daysoftshirts – Wrap up

The remnants

I really enjoyed the project of sharing the stories behind my tshirt wardrobe. I’ve been writing for a long time (this blog is over ten years old), and I liked the chance to share and engage daily, but with a low threshold for how much I needed to write. I did learn a few things about myself across the venture, which I am shockingly turning into more blog fodder.

1) I have a lot of tshirts
This is perhaps the least surprising discovery of the adventure, but I was actually rather surprised at JUST how many I have, especially since I just cleaned out my tshirt drawer when I moved up to the attic. I’m guessing a total of 40 tshirts is crammed in that drawer, and find it unlikely I’ll have fewer any time soon. That likely means – given that I wear tshirts on weekends and Fridays – that I wear each shirt about twice a year. I love novelty and variety, so that feels true!

2) My shirts are an interesting reflection of my interests and values
The top themes are: mountains, coffee, Tolkien, roleplaying, work. Those are not a bad summary of the things I am interested in, and that I am willing to share with others. I was particularly intrigued to see how much my love and longing for mountains was reflected in this wardrobe. I suspect that’s particularly acute right now, when I feel like my beloved mountains are a four month journey away on either side. March is as far as you can get from hiking and camping time, and it’s an acute lack.

But there are also some tremendous gaps not reflected in my collection. There’s nothing of the Medieval in my collection. Music is under-represented, especially the early music I love best. I was shocked to realize I don’t have a single faithful/religious shirt of the non-blasphemous nature. My faith is something important to me, and which I would want to share aright. But so much Christian paraphernalia signals exclusion instead of love. And pretty much none of it is funny. What I really want is a funny Christian pride-ally shirt. Is that too much to ask?

3) I’m terrible at taking selfies and didn’t improve
My usually excellent phone camera keeps doing this jiggly refocus thing. I wonder if I need to fix it or something. Also, I’m really not good at taking a flattering selfie that also shows shirt text. I guess the upside is that I’m comfortable enough with who I am and how I look to post 28 days of unflattering photographs?

4) My things all have stories
I somewhat knew this before, but it was particularly interesting to notice. I had invested meaning in each of these shirts. I had a story about origin, or what it meant to me. Some of the shirts that didn’t seem like they could possibly be important, like the Go Climb A Rock tshirt are actually layered with deep meaning and values. This isn’t just a tshirt thing: I could do the same with coffee mugs, objects on my desk at work… honestly, most of the objects I live with. I think that this isn’t a standard and normal way to engage with the physical world (although it’s obviously also not a crazy outlier). I suspect that could lead to some hoarding tendencies, so I need to work to preserve the story and only keep the worthwhile objects. I also tend NOT to keep things that don’t have stories, even if I like them in abstract.

What did you learn about me? If you did this challenge too, what did you learn about yourself? What things do you have that you could tell thirty stories about?

#28daysoftshirts – Bonus Day!

Friday is tshirt day

In a normal course of events, I wear my tshirt collection on Fridays. (My Monday – Thursday wardrobe is usually a slightly more professional blouse-type-garment.) So it seemed like a pity to have unworn tshirts and a Friday and not just toss in a 29th day of tshirts into the equation.

I got this tshirt on Bike To Work day last year – not because it was official swag (we got socks) – but because the Cambridge cyclists are SO EXCITED about people joining their ranks. They’re currently on internal mailing groups trying to convince people that a 10 mile each way 4 season bike commute with child carriers is totally do-able (because they do it). Anyway, this crazy crew was incredibly warm and supportive of my attempt, and one of them gave me this cycling-related tshirt as a bit of a celebration. It has a bike wheel in the middle, spokes up the size and a sprocket on the outside.

It’s also bright, soft and long and so I often wear it when I’m just looking for the #1 most comfy thing in my wardrobe.

Color: Bright blue
Fabric: Super soft
Front text: ALL POWERFUL

#28daysoftshirts – Day 28 Sigh No More

I’m sad to see this challenge come to an end – not least because I have 4 more tshirts I was planning on wearing, and probably another 10 that I wasn’t. So last night, when I went to a Mumford and Son’s concert, it was clear that I definitely did NOT need to get a Mumford and Son’s tshirt, no matter how much I like their music.

Mumford and Sons

Whoops.

Color: Gray
Fabric: Soft
Text: Mumford & Sons
Attributes: Throwback sleeve design and wings on the back

It was a fantastic concert

I needed to make today a two-fer to get in my favorite hoodie design. The hoodie itself has alas been washed too much to be that super soft I so prize in my hoodies (like stuffed animals). I also disagree slightly with the attributes. I’m not +9 speed. I think it should be +9 alertness, which is a more useful attribute anyway.

Backstory: In roleplaying/video games, you sometimes get magical potions that temporarily increase your capabilities. This hoodie is making the point that coffee is totally a magical potion that temporarily increases your capabilities. The font and pixelation make this seem more like an old school video game stat.

Color: Black
Fabric: Not as soft as it used to be
Text: (Picture of coffee)
+5 Wisdom
+9 Speed
+8 Energy

My favorite potion

#28daysoftshirts – Day 27 It cannot fail

I have a cunning plan

Today’s tshirt is dissimilar in theme from so many of my other geeky tshirts. This one is geeky about obscure British comedy shows, instead of my usual themes of mountains, roleplaying games and coffee. The show Black Adder has the youthful versions of the greatest flower of British tv comedy: Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Steven Fry, Tony Robinson. It’s childish, profane and utterly hilarious.

And over and over again, the eponymous (and only not the stupidest person in the world due to the presence of his man Baldric) Edmund Blackadder hatches *amazing* schemes with the words “I have a cunning plan“. You would be forgiven, if t his was your only exposure to the word cunning, for thinking that cunning means “Incredibly stupid and impossible to have succeed.”

Color: Black
Fabric: Stiff
Front Text: I Have A Cunning Plan

#28daysoftshirts – Day 26 Goblin Dan’s

Goblin Dan

We host three big parties throughout the year. There’s Mocksgiving, Piemas (coming up!) and the newest made up holiday – Flynns’ Fiery Feast. I have to admit that this tshirt was inspiring to me for the theme of the Fiery Feast (otherwise known as a BBQ). We’re now thoroughly into the realm of “tshirts that need more explanation” and this one is a key offender.

With the back story on this shirt, we return to the world of Roleplaying Games and Dungeons and Dragons. In that world, there is a long running web comic called “Order of the Stick” which is a comic about a D&D adventure. It’s been running for well over a decade, but I haven’t read it in years. In D&D, one of the monsters is a hydra, and should you battle this monster, you should NOT cut off the very tempting to cut off head or the monster will grow a second one (and get a second attack), up to a certain number (I thought it was 7 but the comic text says twice the original number). In one particular comic, they find a hydra with no max head limit. They keep cutting off heads until it gets headbound and they have defeated it. Then an enterprising Goblin (Goblin Dan) then opens up a BBQ joint serving cut off hydra heads.

Again, I think it’s hilarious. But you really have to have read this comic series – and maybe this one particular comic – to fully get the joke.

But ah, the tag line! “Decapitated ’til you’re sated”. GENIUS!

I’m definitely feeling the pressure of the end of the week! I have like 5 more shirts I want to wear and a hoodie too!

Color: Black
Fabric: Stiff
Text: Goblin Dan’s All-U-Can-Eat Hydra Head BBQ Hut & Tiki Bar – “Decapitated ’til you’re sated”

#28daysoftshirts – Day 25 Let’s Go Climb a Rock

Go Climb a Rock

Three years ago this week I attended my grandmother’s funeral in Merced, California. The family-sitting-around-the-table time included a lot of stories about the trips up to Yosemite with the camping trailer and the four kids and even my great-grandparents. Our celebration of my grandmother’s life included the part in church (which was a huge part of who she was), and also included a trip up to Yosemite Valley – another huge part of her life. We just missed the firefall, but the weather was clement and we hiked up the sides of the valley past rotten snow and remembered stories of bears and cookies and pranks and times past.

My mom always had this t-shirt, a light heathered blue with dark blue trim, straight from the 70s. I still have it somewhere in a box. It said, “Go Climb a Rock” on it and I loved it. Climbing boulders at Yosemite was a favorite memory from my childhood too, although rarer than my excursions in the northern mountains. What a great commandment – “Go Climb a Rock”. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Just get outside and be a kid.

So on this trip, I bought a t-shirt of my very own that says this very thing, and remembers the four generations of mountain-loving women I come from.

Color: Orange
Fabric: Stiff
Front Text: Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service
Back Text: Go Climb a Rock

On the Yosemite trails
(My mom, my sister, my grandmother – I’m probably running ahead somewhere!)

#28daysoftshirts – Day 24 the one that started it all

Jesus saves
….and only takes half damage.

This is my hardest to wear tshirt. I got it myself at Gencon in 2005 – the year I was pregnant with Grey. I think it’s hilarious – especially because I usually play a cleric. But there are almost no circumstances in which I can wear this shirt, because it’s so much more likely to be offensive than understood. If you’re scratching your head about what the heck is going on here, let me explain. In Dungeons and Dragons, there’s a type of character called a Cleric, who is responsible for doing most of the healing and spells. They also often use a mace as a weapon (which does D8 damage). Also in Dungeons and Dragons, there’s something called a saving throw. Let’s imagine a dragon blasts the area you’re standing with fire-breath. You can roll your dice and if your roll plus your dexterity is high enough, you manage to leap out of the way just in time. This is called making a saving throw. Of course, you’re not entirely out of the blast, so while you don’t take full damage, you take half damage. So if you “save” you only take half damage.

Therefore, on the front when it says “Jesus Saves” you think it means one thing. And when you see the back, with this awesome Jesus-as-D&D-cleric holding a mace with the tagline “And only takes half damage” you realize it’s an entirely different thing.

You can see why I can’t wear this shirt anywhere.

I was wearing it at the Gencon where I bought it, but had a cardigan on because it was cold. I got into this in depth discussion of religion and my faith with a guy (completely forgetting I had on a shirt that read “Jesus Saves”). At one point he referred to my shirt in context of our conversation, and I was like “Oh” and showed him the back of the shirt. His gobsmacked reaction was amazing. “I did not,” he said, “See that one coming.”

I keep the shirt because it still cracks me up. But yeah. It doesn’t get worn outside the house.

Color: Black
Fabric: Stiff
Front text: Jesus Saves (ornate script)
Back text: …and only takes half damage.

#28daysoftshirts – Day 23 More daydreaming about mountains

The mountains are calling

This is my second Mt. Rainier “The Mountains are Calling and I must go” tshirt. Apologies for the awkward photography angle required to attempt to make all the words legible. I’m missing the mountains and wide open spaces today. At the end of February in New England everything feels closed down, bleak and gray. The mountain is expansive, with glimmers of green and blue even in deepest winter, and purer whites. It seems impossible to believe that we’ll ever move easily and happily in warm outside air, but I hold onto the promise.

Color: Sage green
Fabric: Medium
Text: “The Mountains are Calling and I must go. – Mt. Rainier National Park – Elev. 14,411 ft”

#28daysoftshirts Day 22 – We could live here quite happily for years

Fire Swamp

I often wear this shirt for the flight when I’m headed out on vacation. I know, that’s weirdly specific. But you have to wear some shirt, and this one feels very vacationy! In case you for some reason haven’t memorized the entire Princess Bridge, this tshirt celebrates the Fire Swamp, which is known for three things: Lightening Sand, Flame Spurts and Rodents of Unusual Size (but I don’t believe they exist).

Color: Brown
Fabric: Medium
Text: “Come See the Terrors of the Fire Swamp – Lightening Sand, ROUS, Flame Spurts”