Monday, August 30, 2010

I Could Never be a Nomad

Over the course of the past month and a half, I have moved twice. Considering the fact that I lived in the same house until the day I left for college, and then simply rotated around campus (except for the 9 months when I lived in a house off campus) until I made the great trek west to California, I see myself as a moving novice. That being said, I do feel the need to share the lessons I have learned over the course of the past few weeks.

Now that I am pseudo-settled in my new apartment, I have spent at least 15 minutes reflecting upon the process of schlepping my stuff from one place to another and have come up with a top-eight list (I'm too lazy to come up with ten) of things everyone should now about moving:

1) You have way more crap than you need. Seriously, why do I have three sets of silverware, and how come none of them are complete? And four flathead screwdrivers? And a dresser-drawer full of t-shirts that I claim have sentimental value but really just end up crammed in the back and keep the drawers from closing correctly?

2) Despite no. 1, you always have to buy more crap for your new place. Just 'cause everything fit like a puzzle in your old home or looked good doesn't mean it will work in the new place. In fact, you can bank on the fact that it won't. So now you have even more crap than what you started with.

3) Labeling boxes is an exercise in futility. I have discovered that the description "miscellaneous/stuff" is not very helpful when trying to unpack and get settled.

4) Packing, and unpacking for that matter, always takes longer than you think it will. Why, see no. 1.

5) You are going to loose things. How this is possible, I do not know. You would think that putting everything you own into boxes until the whole place is empty, then moving down a hill to an apartment less than a mile away wouldn't be an issue, but for some reason, I cannot find the remote to my DVD player. At least I have my four screwdrivers.

6) Always leave out a pair of scissors or some sort of cutting instrument. You can always opt for using your car keys as means by which to open boxes, but when your car doesn't actually have a traditional key, this proves to be rather difficult.

7) Make friends with people who drive trucks or large vehicles. This one is self explanatory. It also helps to bribe them with a free meal.

8) Everyone is going to have an opinion about how you should arrange your new home. Just be prepared.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And. . . I'm an idiot.

Earlier this summer, I adopted a new mantra: "Screw it, just do it." Since I have decided to start living life a bit more adventurously, a lot of great things have happened to me, including but not limited to making a few big purchases. Approximately three weeks ago, I woke up on Thursday morning and thought to myself, "I'm going to buy a new car today." And that evening, I returned home the proud owner of a black Mini Cooper.

I must admit, zipping around the greater Los Angeles area in my new ride makes me feel pretty B.A. (as my students would put it), especially since parallel parking is no longer an issue. What makes this car even more exponentially cooler than it already is are a few of the features that I didn't even knew it offered. For example, the push-start ignition is customized so that it automatically adjusts the temperature, radio controls, sound settings, ambient lighting, etc. depending upon the key that is used. It has Steptronic shifting so that I can pretend like I know how to drive a standard. And of course, there is my favorite feature, telescopic tilt steering so that I now finally drive a car that I can steer with my knee (this is a big deal for someone of my 5-foot-even stature). That being said, there are a few things that have lent themselves to be a bit problematic. 1) For the life of me, I cannot figure out the blinker. Apparently, a slight tap will set the blinker to flash once, indicating a lane change, and a full tap will actually turn the blinker on. This seems to be too complicated for me to understand as I have yet to been able to detect the difference between the two. 2) I cannot get the stupid hatchback to close correctly. First it won't open, then it won't close, and there's something rattling around back there and I can't figure out what it is and it's driving me crazy. 3) My windshield wipers have a mind of their own. While driving around town today, they just decided to turn on by themselves. Do you know how embarrassing it is to be driving down the street on a cloudless day in Southern California and your windshield wipers are going a mile-a-minute across you window and you cannot figure out how to turn them off? Let me tell you, a lot. There are 9 options for my windshield wipers and they are all German icons so I have no idea what they all mean. And finally 4) remembering which side of the car the gas tank is on (but that's another story for another time).

My friends reassure me that getting rid of the good 'ole Oldsmobile Alero was a good decision, and being that I want to spend most of my spare time speeding through the canyons around Malibu and on PCH, I must agree with them, but at times I wonder if this state of the art German engineering is all that it's cracked up to be. I am a well educated person that has no problem programming the hands-free phone system or navigating the on-board computer, but when it comes to popping the trunk, I'm left scratching my head. Which leads me to my fifth discovery) birds have a radar for finding and defecating on brand new vehicles.