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My New Car is a "Blue One" (and Other Reinforced Stereotypes)

If you ask the average American what the meaning of success is, most people will talk about money. They will describe a house, a BMW, a well paying job. They may also talk about a loving spouse and a couple of laughing kids in the backyard. A few people, the more "enlightened" if you will, will talk about happiness, fulfillment, a feeling of purpose.

For me, success is more about the latter than the former. I am successful if I am a good mother, if my child is happy and healthy. I am successful if my husband and I respect, support and care for each other. And finally, I am successful if I enjoy what I do all day. I do not mean of course, that I enjoy every minute of every day. That would be unrealistic. I just mean that I enjoy my job, that I do not, like so many people, go to bed on Sunday night with a sick knot in my stomach. ( I have had many jobs like that and it is a terrible way to live.)

Of course the fact that my husband and I run a business in Manhattan that has kept its doors open for almost ten years also makes me successful. The dojo has slowly grown from something that both Matthew and I had to work other full time jobs in order to pay for, to a business that is mostly able to support itself.

Money is necessary to live and for many, many of my adult years I lived paycheck to paycheck. Some years, it was even worse than that. Bills were late, or did not get paid at all. I maxed out credit cards. I spent a good two years completely ignoring Bank of America's phone calls. To this day, close to 20 years after graduating college, I am still paying off student loans. 

I am not special by any means; half the people I know have a similar story. But all this is why I am so thankful to be able to do what I do now. I teach beautiful children karate for a living. I make my own hours. My job allows me to train BJJ in the middle of a weekday, to pick up my child from school most days, and to spend a lot time with my husband, who is my best friend in the world. 

I don't want a lot of things. A new gi sometimes. Rock climbing shoes. A second glass of wine with dinner. 

Still, over the past few years I have made a concerted effort to dig myself out of the credit abyss that I fell into as a young adult. I paid off balances. I got my student loan payments back on track. I bought tiny things with my credit card and paid them off instantly to show everyone what a responsible adult I could be. 

I also signed myself up for driving lessons. 

For our entire car owning lives, my husband and I have never had a new car, or even a used car that we paid for. The first car we owned belonged to Matthew's mother. When it died, we inherited my mom's old car. Then, when it died, we inherited her new old car, a 1999 Camry. It is a great car, that Camry. Matthew has been driving it for years, it has over 100,000 miles on it and it still runs fine. My mom is in her seventies and has no interest in driving anymore, but she still helped us pay our car insurance during the months when money was tight.  (Yes she gave us a free car and then paid for us to be able to drive it. That's the kind of person my mom is.)

I drove for weeks in that Camry with Matthew, every chance I got. I also drove my driving teacher's car, which ironically, was also a Camry.

Good job Toyota!

A few weeks ago, that nice driving teacher, whose name is Mark by the way, took me out to Staten Island and I finally passed my road test. Last Wednesday, I drove myself to BJJ class alone for the first time. Me, someone who was so terrified when I firts I got in the car with Matthew to learn how to drive, that I made it two blocks before claiming that I was never going to be comfortable driving and he might as well just take over.

My new license showed up in the mail. I look like a serial killer. But a nice one.

Last week I called Geico to inquire about getting insurance with my name on it (and Matthew's of course), for a new car. We went to the Toyota dealership in Queens to learn about leases. They ran a credit check and the guy came back and said, yes, we can lease you a car. Me, the person who considered changing her phone number just so Bank of America could no longer find me.  The person who used to laugh hysterically whenever I received junk mail with the words "pre approved" on it. (Me, approved?? Ha!  They must have the wrong Jennifer!)

That little green gecko guy is awfully cute by the way.

Yesterday a nice guy who only kind of spoke English drove up to our house in a 2016 Camry with a folder full of scary papers for me to sign. He left the car with us. It is bright blue and smells funny. 

I drove it to jiu-jitsu today. I am still pretty terrible at parallel parking and a Crown Heights local had a lot of fun on Bedford Ave making fun of me. 

My phone connects to it via bluetooth so I can now call people with my car. And although I have no intention of ever texting and driving (it irritates the crap out of me when people do that),  if I receive a text my car will read it out loud in a computerized female voice. She is kind of hot. Matthew and I have had a bit of fun with her. 

A car is just a thing. I know that. I didn't post about it on Facebook and when people congratulate me on it, I actually feel a little strange. I mean all I really did was sign the lease agreement. It is not like getting my black belt, or birthing my child, or catching that new white belt with a bow and arrow choke. It is not an accomplishment really.

Except in my case it kind of is. Three failed road tests. Three! Terrible, terrible credit, for years and years. A bank account with a negative balance. Not being able to pay the dojo rent on time. Again. Being terrified of driving. 

Ok fine. I am a little proud of us.

Here is our new blue Camry. 

Here is me, in the drivers seat of our new blue Camry. (The car looks much better than me.  I look very tired. The car on the other hand, it looks magnificent!)

And yes, I am perfectly aware that it is pathetic and sets the women's movement back many years when the only thing I can tell you about my new car is that it is blue. I get that. I am working on it. Give me a few weeks and I will be able to tell you all about horsepower and show you how I change a tire and drop all kinds of manly buzzwords like piston and RPM and cylinder.

I am also going to master this parking thing. 
Just watch me.

Did you notice that my dress matches the car?


  1. First off, congratulations on passing your road test and getting a new car! Those are both huge milestones to be proud of. My wife and I have been thinking of leasing a car, but driving in Manhattan makes me a little nervous. Especially since she can't parallel park without bumping into something just yet! I'm sure she'll master it soon.

    Douglass @ Viva Kia

  2. Thanks! Yesterday a total stranger talked me through a parallel park. I guess he felt bad for! I am still not great at it. Good luck!

  3. It's fabulous that you've taken that step and overcome so many setbacks to achieve a goal! And I'm sure that as you learn more and more about your new car you'll be even more confident. One thing to keep in mind is your insurance; once you have established some driving history you should definitely check around for better rates!

    Joshua Duncan @ Focus Insurance Atlanta


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