Thanks for your comments and e-mails, but I don't want to put forth the impression that things are particularly "shitty." In the broad scheme of things, they're actually pretty good. In fact, I'd equate my current state of being to the first car my family ever owned, a Chevy II station wagon that looked a lot like this. Except it was covered with strawberry stickers.
You read that right.
My parents bought it right before I was born, and it barely missed living long enough for me to drive it. (Legally, anyway.) When I was about 10, a rust spot formed above the right front tire, and it so offended my mom's aesthetic that she slapped a large, vinyl adhesive strawberry over it. This turned out to create more aesthetic issues, because really: Who drives around with one strawberry sticker on their car? A crazy person, that's who!
So she covered the rest of the car with stickers, because that made more sense, and soon people took to calling it "Shortcake." This was now a car that commanded respect. That might have belonged to a city councilperson. Or a captain of industry. Or an alderman on peyote. Still, I'll always credit Mom with being ahead of her time by using a fruit so high in antioxidants to hide the rigors of oxidation.
Toward the end, the front seat was held up by a two-by-four, and we kids liked to watch the road streak by through two massive holes in the floor. But we still made it to school, and practice, and church, and anywhere else that afforded us all maximum mortification.
And that's sort of where we are right now. The car's got a few dings in the fender, and the headlights are a little cross-eyed, and you might look at it and wonder what sort of diseased mind is behind this madness. But she's still cruising along, looking good, and unconventionally conveying us from A to whatever comes after A.