Monday, December 22, 2008

Hanukkah calluses

We had a lovely Hanukkah celebration at my in-laws the first night of Hanukkah. One of the toys Carter received was a toy parking garage.

Much more realistic than the Fisher Price one I loved growing up, but same concept. The trick is, though, it needed to be assembled. A good thing that it was rainy today; it took me hours and hours, and caused minor wrist damage and sore fingers from all of the screwdriver maneuvering and cranking. The directions were also of the classic Ikea variety; enough to make you want to use your head as a hammer on the screws. Then I got to the point, two hours or so into the assembly, where I was supposed to add a floor and a knob that I SWEAR was supposed to be there based on the preceding directions that I had so carefully followed prohibited me from sliding the board down to its proper place. I called the 800-number. I had to leave a message, and I still haven't gotten a call back. I found a way around the problem, but the linguist in me was not pleased by the lack of explicitness in the directions.

One of the reasons I was so careful in following them was because of an Ikea experience I had in grad school putting together a desk. One piece seemed like it could go either way, so I just shrugged and screwed the thing in place. Only when the desk was upright and fully assembled did I realize that I had put the now inextricable piece on backwards... the non-white particle board piece of my otherwise white desk laughed at me every day until I gave the damned thing away. But at least I learned my lesson. The garage is perfect.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Learning rules and choosing battles

As a transplant from the comparatively laid-back Bay Area, I have had a lot to learn about the customs and values of Orange County. Early on, I "got" that shoes and bags were a way-bigger deal than I had appreciated at first. And in spite of not actively caring, I can now make much more fine-grained distinctions of bags or shoes that I see around town, just from being here long enough. I carried around an NPR tote bag instead of a purse (which is called a bag here), first just because it was a convenient size and I liked it, and then as an act of defiance well into the period after the distinctions started invading my brain space. But then my MIL gave me a designer bag for my birthday last year. I have mixed feelings. Its an easy ticket to avoid fighting that battle when I don't feel like it, but I do worry about it. I'm conflicted. I alternate the Prada with the tote.

And then there are cars. I already know that my hybrid is far from the vehicle of choice for this crowd. But there are more layers. Neighbors on BOTH sides of us have people who come to their houses to wash their cars, (using a portable, leaf blower-esque thing to dry), every week! Nuts, if you ask me. As a courtesy to my husband's family, I try to get my car washed once a month, so it doesn't get too bad, but that doesn't always happen. And the latest thing that I noticed: my car is the "wrong" color. Not only do all of my family members (husband's side) and all of my in-laws' friends drive the same make of car, but there is a tiny range of colors: white, black, and dark blue. That's it. My red car is just another thing about me, apparently, that screams: not from here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Close enough

When my friend J was here visiting, we went for a walk near the beach. When we came to the steep path that actually leads down to the sand, she expressed an interest in sticking her toe in the ocean. It was too steep for the stroller, so I waited on a bench while she continued down the path. While G and I were waiting, a group of young, foreign tourists walked by, with a "guide." He said, "Are any of you NBA fans? Does the name Kobe Bryant mean anything to you? His house is right up there!" he pointed vaguely up the hill. Fair enough; Kobe does have a house in Newport Coast, although not one you can see from that path, as he sort of suggested. "And do you know Stephen King? He lives here too!" This is when I smiled to myself, rolling my eyes. Last I heard, Stephen King lives in Maine... about as far away as you can get and still be in this country. The guy most likely meant Dean Koontz, who does live in the area. Ah, pesky details.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Orchestra peanut gallery

Thought I would share some lines from fellow orchestra members. I've missed orchestra humor in the years I've gone without being in an ensemble. It's good to be back!

- "Lord, have mercy on my solo."

- "We'll take it at K."
- "Oh, K?"

- "Last time, it was half as fast."
- "Half-assed?"

More to follow, I'm sure.

Monday, December 1, 2008

On Hammers, helmets, head shapes, and saving the world

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." I have the feeling, after being immersed in G's treatment, that helmet therapy is the hammer I'm carrying around. I see heads everywhere that could benefit from some time in a helmet. I talked to the dedicated, wonderful woman who is treating G about this strange new tunnel vision. She says it is really bad for her. When she gets upset about seeing babies who are crying in infant carriers, she says she wants to scream, "Just pick them up!" (Excessive time in carriers can lead to flathead). Her husband teases her that she is trying to save the world, one head at a time.

I thought that was cute. I am sure that the kids' Music Together teacher is trying to save the world, one musically-enriched child at a time (her enthusiasm is saintly). My parents are trying to save the world, in a "think globally, act locally" kind of way. I was going to try to save the world through linguistic enlightenment, but I am no longer sure that it is the answer. Still shopping for my true hammer, I suppose.