Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I Bought a Sports Car


I bought one of my dream cars on Monday. A 2001 Audi TT Quattro. 'Lemme explain the beauty of this car:
  • 225 hp
  • Turbo
  • All-time four-wheel drive (Quattro)
  • 6-speed manual
  • 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds
  • And, most importantly… it’s fun. It puts a grin on my face every time I start it up. And the way it handles corners? Heaven.
Hello, beautiful!

My old car was "circling the drain." It was a 1997 Audi A4 with 193,000 miles on it. It was 13-years old, had a ton of miles, and served me amazingly well over the years. But, little things were starting to go wrong. Eventually, it was costing more to keep things running than the poor little thing was worth.

The A4 broke again last week. Over Christmas I decided that it was time to start looking for a new car. I found one yesterday and I love it!

I have to admit, though, that the fun and excitement of my new car is being diminished by all the naysayers.

"I’d donate to charity before I’d buy an expensive car."

"Sports cars are terrible in the snow."

"You can’t fit any luggage or people in the car. Maybe a bag of groceries will squeeze into the trunk."

"It’s noisy."

"Where does the child seat go?"

"You’re going through a quarter-life crisis."

To all of you Fun-Police out there, here’s my response:

I spent days thoroughly researching my budget, my options, and the available cars out there. My stipulations were this:

  • The car must be $10k or under.
  • It must have under 100,000 miles on it.
  • It must be under 10-years old.
  • It must be a manual.
  • And most importantly… again… it must make me grin.
When it comes down to it, cars are just a bucket of bolts. If a car didn’t meet the above criteria, then I would quickly and easily walk away. I had to love the purchase.

My father (who’s a certified mechanic and general genius) and I spent the weekend printing, researching, reading reviews, and comparing vehicles. We had Monday mapped out to explore a number of options. I could tell you about our day in detail, but basically it comes down to this:

You must test-drive a car before you even think about buying it!

So, after driving cars all day, I fell in love with the last car on my list, the Audi TT. Here’s why (all you naysayers, listen up!):

Audi quality is incredible. After test-driving a number of cars, my super-old 1997 Audi still felt like it was better made than some cars built within the last 5-years.

Also, the Audi's power; the driving experience—it's unsurpassed. I drove a VW GTI and while I was impressed with its ability to get up and go, I could honestly feel the gaps within the turbo. The GTI would spool up at about 3,200 RPM, let off, and then pick up again around 5,000 RPM. The TT, in contrast, is pure power from start to finish. Wow.

Finally—and the biggest argument of all—the money. Let me clarify that my used Audi TT, which is in impeccable condition, was less expensive than a brand new Ford, Hyundai, or Kia (typically considered cheaper brands). A 2011 Ford Focus, which is considered an "affordable" car, starts at $17,000. The No. 1 most affordable car in the US is a Ford Fiesta—it starts at $13,855. I paid $10,000 "out the door" for my TT (meaning it included all taxes and dealer fees).

Also, people who spend more money on their cars typically spend more time taking care of them. My TT has full service records. The previous owner took it to the dealer’s certified shop even for oil changes. The maintenance of this car is impeccable. How many people spend that much time and money taking care of their Fiesta? Probably none. And they wonder why their car craps out at 110,000 miles.

So, to those who say "Why a sports car?" or "I’d donate to charity before I’d buy an expensive car," my response is this: I got a nicer car, in better condition, for less money. So, fuck you!

As to the rest of the statements:

"Sports cars are terrible in the snow."

The TT is all-time all-wheel drive (Quattro). It's heavy and low to the ground. Snow tires are key for any car because they're the only material touching the ground. Put a giant box on four little tires (an SUV) and you have trouble handling that thing in any condition!

"You can’t fit any luggage or people in the car. Maybe a bag of groceries will squeeze into the trunk."

How many times do I actually have another person in my car, much less multiple people? Maybe a dozen times a year. Maybe. My grocery shopping is equally minimal. My old trunk held a subwoofer and amp. That's it. I rarely used it. Besides, I don't like people. Why would I want them in my car?

"It’s noisy."

Yes, but damn, does it sound good! The purr of the dual exhaust is beautiful. Besides, I’ve almost gotten hit by Priuses on many occasions because you can’t hear the damn things in a parking lot! All of the sudden, they're on top of you. You know how motorcyclists have bumper stickers that say "Loud Pipes Save Lives?" Well, it’s true.

"Where does the child seat go?"

Child seat? What child seat? Why would I want that?

"You’re going through a quarter-life crisis."

Maybe so, but it comes down to this: It’s a great, sexy, fun car; I can afford it; it works for my needs; and when else can I enjoy a car like this? When I’m 55? No thanks!

So, to all you haters, naysayers, and Fun Police: Fuck You! My car was a thoroughly researched and affordable decision. And, most importantly, I’ll be grinning as I smoke you from the line.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Style Assessment

Last week I went for a Style Assessment with local consultant, Milena Joy.

I've been wanting to work with a style consultant for a while now. If you're plumbing is broken, you hire a plumber. If your teeth need cleaning, you go to the dentist. If you need help getting in shape, you hire a trainer. A stylist, for me, falls within this realm. I need help.

I'm horrible at shopping. I like new things, but I hate the process of getting them. I don't have a "vision" for color, or cuts, or how a separate piece would fit within my closet.

So I went to see Milena. First of all, she gave me some homework. I was supposed to go through a magazine and pull out looks that I loved and that I hated. I also had to answer questions about my current style. What do I wear to work? What do I wear casually? How much do I typically spend? What are looks and/or pieces that I'd like to strive for?

The homework was hard. It's difficult to look at yourself objectively. Basically, the answer for my current wardrobe is: Ratty jeans, beat up heels, and a cotton shirt. Ouch.

All in all, the consultation was amazing and fabulous and informative. What fascinated me the most is learning about my colors. I look best in warm colors---darker and slighted muted tones. I also learned that I basically look good in anything that is green, yellow, orange (I never would've thought of yellow or orange!), beige or ivory, and blue (everyone looks good in blue). Also, harsh colors such as black and white aren't the best for me. Considering that half my closet is those two colors, I have my work cut out for me.

We also went over hair, makeup (Milena recommended "espresso" eyeliner to make my green eyes pop---and, of course, she was right!), height and proportions, and even recommended brands and cuts that are good for me. Since I'm bustier than a lot of women, I need to look at v-necks and boat necks. High necklines will just make me look top-heavy.

New rules that I love:

1.) Look for 3-pieces to complete your outfit (at a minimum). For example, today I'm wearing a ruffled tank top, a ruffled button up western-style shirt, and knee-high brown boots with skinny jeans. I never would've paired the two ruffled pieces before, but the textures make a huge difference!

Trying to be stylish with ruffles! (P.S. What in the world am I looking at?) 

1. ) Always go shopping for a complete outfit. This includes a skirt, top, and heels or a necklace/accessory. You think you have eight tops at home that "might" work, but they never look quite right and your new skirt goes unworn.

3.) Only shop about twice a year. Be sure to pick items that are easily interchangeable amongst each other. Budget shopping and sales rarely work. (Thank goodness because I hate budget shopping.)

As soon as Christmas is over, I'm dragging my friend Emily out to hit Nordstrom's with me. Woot, woot!

Here are some new styles that I was able to pull from MarieClaire.com. It's amazing how I can look at these pictures with a discerning eye now. Exciting!

I should look for angled designs and lower-neck tops.
Here's an example of another angled skirt. Paired with a solid, colorful top it could look great.

Suit jacket with green cami underneath.

I love this bag. I would just stroke the soft leather for days.

This is something that wouldn't work for me. Flowy or circular patters are not good, and the red isn't my color.

Now this is something that would work! I don't own any orange right now, but this outfit is definitely something I'll be looking for.

Gold jewelry looks better on me than silver. In fact, in the "color analysis" I learned that silver and grey (the other half of my wardrobe) completely wash me out and make me look sallow. Note to self.

Pretty ivory skirt in a sophisticated cut.

A little summer blazer to show off my ripped arms. Hah!

This is something I wouldn't be caught dead in. Seriously.

Structured camel trousers.

You can't go wrong with a pencil skirt.

This is a pretty notebook. Like the purse pictured earlier, I love the classic leather.

Statement necklaces can be an outfit in and of themselves. In the summer, jeans, a white tank top, and a statement necklace can say a lot.
This is a jacket that would not look good on me. The silver color and shine, the high neckline, and puffy sleeves all would be a bad combination.

Yes, tan/brown can be sophisticated.

I love my current Tissot watch, but this pretty number also caught my eye. Too bad it's $1,700!

Yellow is another color that I don't have in my closet, but that would look great on me. This dress would be great both in and out of the office.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Road Race

I love running road races throughout town. Shockingly enough, my favorite time to run is during the winter. Typically the races are smaller and the temperatures are cooler---which means more fun and better race times!

Last weekend I ran the ColderBoulder which is a 5K that loops around the University of Colorado campus.

Giving the photographer the hairy eyeball

In doing some research, I noticed that my 5K races have been consistently around the 26-minute mark---about 8:30 miles. Not too bad, but I'd like to improve.

So, I'm saying it here and now: My new goal is to run a sub-24 minute 5K (8 minute miles). Let the training commence!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


From www.123rf.com 

No wonder why so many people have a hard time sticking to exercise programs. I’m somewhat of a veteran compared to most gym-goers and yet I have to confess that The. Gym. Is. Scary. It scares the living crap out of me. Every day.

The following is an admission of my fears and my failure.

Let’s start from the beginning.

About 9-months ago I sprained my knee and was sidelined from soccer and the hours and hours of cardio that we women love to do. Inspired by all my fitness friends, I decided to pick up weightlifting.

This was a scary first step. First of all, in my gym the women congregate around the treadmills and ellipticals and the men stick to the machines and free weights. Venturing into “that area” (the weights) meant I was typically either the only woman or one of three women lifting. The men were never rude or lewd—but you can tell that they’re always watching. I’d like to think that a.) I’m hot shit despite the fact that I haven't shaved my legs recently and b.) I have perfect form, but I know both are untrue. Maybe it’s like seeing the Loch Ness Monster—women are so rare in “that area” that the guys can’t stop staring.

So, I sucked it up and started lifting a couple times a week while following a vague program I found online. I literally had to talk myself over to the weights each time because it was scary. Lifting was new and different. Luckily, I quickly got the movements down and was feeling more confident. But after a while I knew I wasn’t getting stronger. Eventually my workouts digressed to the point that even a light day left me exhausted and unwilling. I felt like crap all the time—in or out of the gym.

I decided I’d had enough. I hired a trainer on November 1. Dave set up a great program with tons of movements and options. He specifically directed that if an exercise hurt or if I felt worse then I should stop immediately. Great. Sounds good. Whatever.

 Updates? Successes? Progress? Questions?”

The first workouts went great. I felt strong, motivated, and I only had a few questions which were quickly answered. But a week and a half into the program and only a handful of workouts done, I got sidetracked. Again. Dave emailed me on Monday morning and asked how everything was going. “It’s been three weeks,” he said. “Updates? Successes? Progress? Questions?” I feigned that I was “too busy” to respond and dodged him for two days. In the end, I had to answer to him—and I had to answer to myself.

Why did I lose track after such a short time? It comes down to this…

I got scared.

The “what-ifs” overtook me. What if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t stick to it? What will people think of me? Why do I have to carry this stupid notebook around and track everything—do I look like an idiot? What if I don’t get stronger/leaner/better?

So I went back to what was easy and comfortable. I started running again and playing a million soccer games every week. Isn’t this how I got injured in the first place? Isn’t this how I lost track? I didn’t care. It was comfortable.

Claire, I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed.”

I finally confessed to Dave that I got sidetracked. I literally asked him to yell at me. “I deserve it,” I said. Instead, Dave used the “d-word.” He explained, “Claire, I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed.” He asked how we can adjust the program. What will work better? How can I become more motivated? Even though I still wish he yelled at me, this struck home. The “d-word” is worse than yelling, tears, denial… everything. He’s disappointed in me and more to the point, I’m disappointed in myself.


“You just got not to be so… scared.”

I’m going to have to suck it up and conquer these fears. In one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom (a chick flick, I know), the mother says to her daughter in a thick Spanish accent, “You just got not to be so… scared.”

The gym is scary. New programs are scary. Life is scary. But I can overcome my self-imposed obstacles and get better.

I'm going to hit the gym. I'm going to confidently use the free weights and carry around my little notebook. But in the meantime, I’m still going to avoid the gym crowds and hit the weights at 5:30 am or 9:30 pm. I may be getting stronger, but I can’t move mountains yet.