One thing I haven’t written about yet is the car.
The car we drove during the Christmas holidays, that is.
Way back when, we left my little red car with my dad (actually, sold it to him, for one of my sisters) knowing that we’d have use of it during the holidays.
I’m grateful that we had the car to use; we could not have gotten ANYTHING done without having a car. That’s just the way it is in the South. And, really, in most places besides where we live (and a couple of other cities in this country). So, having use of the car was A Good Thing.
But, yet, it was a Bad Thing, at the same time.
First, the car has no air conditioning. It didn’t have it last summer when we still lived in the dead heat. Somehow, though, I could suck that up. But when Christmas day ended up hitting 84 degrees, I couldn’t handle it anymore. It was just ri-goshdarn-diculous. EIGHTY-FOUR DEGREES! On CHRISTMAS! UNACCEPTABLE.
So, OK. The car was hot. It was also SMALL. To be fair, it was always small, but that was never a problem for ME, since I never carried any passengers. But driving around with Mr. Angst made it seem a whole lot smaller. So the car was also CRAMPED.
Now add to the mix of HOT and CRAMPED the delightful factor of TRAFFIC.
I admit it, I have gotten spoiled. Basically, when I want to go somewhere, I take a train. Sometimes I take a bus. Rarely do I take a cab (in fact, I haven’t taken a cab in months). I do not wait to get where I want to go. If I planned to take a bus and the bus is not there when I am, I start walking and wait for the bus to catch up to me. It’s lovely, actually–I don’t wait for transportation anymore. And I am not used to sitting in traffic anymore. Not only does it make me crazy, it makes me tense, and that tenseness led to some serious tension headaches over the ten days of our vacation.
The car, then, was a mixed blessing. We couldn’t have bought all of our gifts in one day without it; heck, we couldn’t have done ANYTHING without it. But I would have come home with five hundred fewer knots in my back and neck and we probably would have figured out ways of visiting family across Our Old State that would have been astronomically more comfortable than doing so under the burning sun without an air conditioner.
I don’t want to drive a car for months.
I went and got my hair cut today. It had been a while since my last one and the split ends alone warranted the expense. I also had a gift certificate to a local place–$25 off!–and I figured I’d use it.
First, the haircut is good. I’ve spent the last ten or so years trying to convince myself I looked good in long hair (that even includes the two year period where I had a pixie haircut). I have finally come to terms with the fact that, ten years ago, I might have looked good with really long hair but I no longer do. My face has changed as I’ve gotten older, as has my style. When I wear my hair long, it looks flat and boring or, worse, like I’m trying to hide behind it.
So I had the stylist cut it off and, unlike my cut in September, where I told her the same thing, this one actually listened when I said to cut it shorter rather than longer. (That is, somewhere slightly above chin length, rather than just longer than chin length.)
Really, there’s nothing BAD about the whole getting-a-haircut thing except the actual salon. It seriously felt like a cattle call. Maybe I’ve gotten really spoiled, but I figure if I’m going to spend more than $50 on a haircut, I’ll get a little more attention. I was shown around the place–which had twenty stylists chairs in a row, another twenty colorists chairs, and a good ten manicurists chairs–but beyond that, it was almost like I was on my own. After I told my stylist what I wanted, I was told to go get my hair washed, and “did they show you where that was?” Off I went, where I waited for someone to be available–the ladies washing hair seemed to be circulating from the sinks to the laundry–and then I showed myself back to my stylist who cut my hair (and I have A LOT of hair) in a blazingly short twenty-five minutes.
Twenty-five minutes! Now, to be fair, she spent an additional ten or fifteen blowing it out, but the cut itself was about the shortest I’ve ever had for that price. I expect at least an hour to be devoted just to me and my hair. Considering I was early to my appointment but they got me in the chair right away, I’m guessing my stylist milked an extra half-hour out of my appointment.
So, yeah, it was like a cattle call. I think I’ll pay the same amount to go back to the first salon I tried in Our New City, and just be a little more firm about the length next time. At least there I got a complementary hand massage and my hair was washed by someone I’m not worried is being underpaid or paid under the table.
I set my computer on the ottoman, stood up from the couch, and then walked toward the kitchen.
But silly me, I wasn’t wearing slippers and my feet were cold and I caught my toe on the power cable. And my computer slipped from the ottoman to the floor and I stubbed my toe. Ouch. In more than one way. Because when I went to look at my computer, the power cable had pulled out and BENT. It looked like this. Eek!
After some hand-wringing, I looked up the cost of a replacement and was HORRIFIED. How much? No less than SEVENTY-ONE DOLLARS. And that’s WITH the student discount!
More hand-wringing. Mr. Angst rummaged for needlenosed pliers. I looked up information online–would this be covered by AppleCare? (The information varies, but my guess is no, since Apple hates replacing things damaged due to “accidents” or “improper force.”) Needlenosed pliers were found, the cable was unplugged from the wall and the pin was bent back. The metal casing was pushed back into a mostly-circular shape. There was more hand-wringing.
With a deep breath, I pushed the power adapter into my computer–success! With breath HELD, then, I plugged the cable back into the wall and . . . it lit right up. Whew!
Since then, I’ve been searching for information on whether or not this was bad, for me to bend the pin back and all. I felt something like a snap when it bent back, but it’s certainly not broken off or even loose. It might have been something just snapping back into place, but I don’t know. It IS charging my PowerBook up nicely, though.
Kids, I worked my ass off on it, and it paid off.
In other words, I got my final memo back today, and I kicked some serious BUTT on it.
Even better? I have a solid writing sample to send out with my freshly revised resume. I’m feelin’ good. GOOOOOOOOD.
Door to door, the trip took eleven hours, but it was worth every minute to get me home into my own bed.
Today’s tasks, then, are numerous. Go to the grocery store, since our fridge is bare. Work on my resume and cover letters. Watch Buffy. Color my hair (the gray is starting to look REALLY BAD). Unpack. Maybe do some laundry, although I’m not in dire straits. Check our mailbox, which I am sure is overflowing.
I’ve already taken care of some other tasks this morning. For instance, I’ve already emailed my professors to let them know I’m missing the first few days of class. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Well, that’s what happens when school starts on the 3rd. My father has a big thing planned and he’s taking all of us (except one of my brothers who didn’t want to go). So I get to miss three class days. So far, the responses I’ve gotten have been very nice — no one seems concerned about my absence, particularly since I’ve already lined up classmates to take notes and get me on the seating chart. One prof hasn’t responded, though . . . we’ll see how that goes.
So, there’s my Thursday. I should get my final memo back sometime tonight, so I can start revising it tomorrow (to use as a writing sample, sillies). Back home and back to work. But it’s HOME, so I don’t mind the work.
By the way, if I don’t post again for a while, it’s because I’m immersed in my gift from Mr. Angst.
It’s been a few days.
I have some general advice, first, and then I have some ruminations. I think the advice is probably relevant to any number of situations, but it’s particularly helpful at this time of year. I hope it’s helpful.
Christmas is a time for being with family and friends and loved ones. This is the primary function of Christmas–to get relatives who otherwise would not speak to one another in the same room, preferably with some wine or eggnog (see below), and get them speaking.
Of course, we all know that Christmas is also about giving and receiving. Gifts. Some families do a Secret Santa kind of thing, some establish a dollar amount, and some just take the gifts as they come. My family is the latter. Some siblings spend more, because they are doing well and want to spend the money, and some spend less because they are not doing well or do not want to spend the money. In general, this does not cause much hard feeling. There are mountains of other things for us to get upset about at Christmas; that the brother in college bought our gifts at a truck stop is nothing to get worked up over. Hey–he got everyone gifts, he made the effort.
You’re wondering now, hey, missy, where’s the advice??
If you’d only have some patience…
So here is my advice. Whether you are a Secret Santa family, a dollar limit family, or an everyone-fends-for-themselves family, remember that your gifts should be thoughtful.
I know. It sounds Obvious. It even sounds Logical. Perhaps, you are thinking, such gift-buying is even Practical.
If you are thinking this, you must have forgotten that we are talking about Christmas. We are talking about a confusing, illogical, completely impractical holiday. One with great merit, yes–without it, I would never see at least one of my brothers–but one without much inherent Sense.
What do I mean by “thoughtful,” though? Because do not mistake me, I am not simply saying that you should think, “Does my sister wear a size 4 or a size 14?” No, no. That is not it at all.
I mean that your gifts should actually be things your relative or friend or coworker might (a) actually want, (b) actually enjoy, and (c) actually be able to do something with.
Point (c) is my gripe this year. My Christmas list was full of things that are small, compact, light, and which I very much needed or wanted. My family loves me, for I got many of them. Unfortunately, many of my other gifts are things which I cannot do anything with–or, in other words, they are things I CANNOT TAKE HOME.
Mr. Angst and I already bought another bag. We already overstuffed the one suitcase which was not already overfull. And yet, and yet, we have things that cannot come home with us. Things we like! Things we want to cherish. Things that were bought thoughtfully, according, at least, to items (a) and (b), supra.
So I am full of sighing tonight.
For me, the holidays are always somewhat bittersweet. I never get to spend enough time with my relatives, I always end up rushing through my shopping, I eat too much and visit too little. When the twelfth day of Christmas rolls around each year, I am always tired and usually just a bit regretful.
Oddly, this year is different. I am tired, yes, and I am regretful, but in ways I have not been before. I am seeing the holiday in a new light, now that I am one of the relatives who doesn’t live close, who isn’t around much. For instance, we had a very quick trip to see my grandparents and, unfortunately, it was not a great day for my grandmother. Maybe she’d seen too many people, maybe she’d had too many visitors–I don’t know. She was not, however, much up for talking. She seemed to be devoting all of her energy to just getting through the day.
In any other year, this would not have been a big deal because I would know that I’d see her (and my grandfather) again soon. I cannot guarantee myself that anymore. And my short, unsatisfying, and frustrating time with them is all I get for the foreseeable future.
Being the absent relative is hard, then, for them and for me.
It’s also hard being the long-term houseguest. I brought my five favorite shirts with me and I’ve been living in them for ten days. My contact lenses are really starting to bother me, but I can’t throw them out and put in a new pair since I don’t have a new pair with me. Finding breakfast foods has become a greater ordeal than I ever imagined.
I’m ready to go home.
It’s funny to think of Our New City™ as home, but it is. We’ve grown to love it there and I am eager to get back. A small part of me twinges with nostalgia for the home we had made here, the friends and the family who are accessible here, and the ease of a life in familiar territory. Still, I did not doubt our choice when we moved away and I don’t doubt it now that we’ve come back for an extended visit. The holidays, though, have given me new ways to miss this place even while I am reassured that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
Happy holidays, all.