calf
Randomness

Shit They Don’t Tell You About California

calfI’ve been living here in the San Diego area about three weeks. It’s really nice and I am enjoying it for the most part… but it’s not exactly what I was expecting. In fact, there are some oddities here that go far beyond the whole wow-the-ocean-is-like-totally-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road thing. And because I don’t have the time to be incessantly hounded by Charlie Rose for a ground-shattering 60 Minutes exposé, I’m gonna go ahead right here on my puny little blog and peel back the shiny, pretty wrapper that most people think is the California life to tell y’all what things are really like. I may  mysteriously ‘disappear’ for publishing this, but here goes…

They’re not really from San Diego. Just a few days after moving here, I learned that there’s a San Diego County and a San Diego City (proper). And that most people who say they’re San Diegans are actually from the county and not the city. Now, saying that you’re from San Diego when you’re technically not is fine if you’re waitingin line for Pirates of the Caribbean. But telling other locals the same thing is just plain silly. I have one friend here who lives about a mile from me and addresses her correspondence from San Diego, even though we both live in the city of Escondido (about 40 minutes north of SD). And the Post Office delivers it! How the fuck are these folks supposed to learn where they really live if the Federal Government keeps letting them believe otherwise?! It must be some bizarre California thing, this using your county as a bonafide address. It would never work in New England: the Post Office would likely show up at your front door, bitch-slap you and yank the damned stamps right from outta your hand…

The bugs are the size of Volkswagens. You’ll love it here – there are no bugs! everyone told us. Which sounded blissful, given that I’ve been a walking all-you-can-eat bug buffet for the past 15 years in the back woods of New Hampshire. NO BUGS??? I’m packing the house right now, honey!!! So imagine my surprise when we spotted numerous screened porches (first big hint that the no-bugs stories were a hoax). Then I realized that those folks meant no mosquitoes, because there are plenty of bugs – and not just your average wasp or bee: last week, I watched something crawl across the back lawn that could easily have had a saddle on it. And yesterday, I had an up-close-and-personal encounter with a scorpion. That’s right: A SCORPION. In. My. Own. Fucking. House. It took three shots of tequila and Rick hiding my car keys for me to finally calm down, stop packing and cancel that one-way trip back to New Hampshire. Suddenly, I miss mosquitoes…

Satellite TV sucks.  Because we could never get satellite at our woodsy New Hampshire house, we settled for analog cable TV – with it’s grand total of about 26 channels (and not the good channels either: I never even knew who the hell Kim Kardashian was until just a few years ago). So I was pretty stoked when we installed satellite a few weeks back. I’m telling ya, soon as that technician walked out the door, I grabbed the remote and went freaking nuts, clicking away like my frickin’ life depended on it. At first it was fun, but I’ve since had several days to absorb lots more television than ever before (from a selection of about 230 channels) – and can now say without any doubt that satellite bites just as much as our old analog cable did. The only difference is all that crap looks better in digital, which is pretty much lipstick on a pig. Truly, if aliens out there are monitoring west-coast satellite feeds to locate signs of intelligent life, they’re not going to find any…

They drive like nuts. The folks on the highway sure do, at least. And once you take the test to get a driver’s license, you understand why – because they intentionally add trick questions just to screw you up! What kind of state does that?? To prove my point, here’s a sample of possible responses to the question When can you pass a vehicle on the right?:

  1. Driver ahead of you is turning left
  2. Driver ahead of you is turning right
  3. On a highway with two or more lanes traveling in your direction
  4. If you are blocked or unable to pass on the left
  5. When it is safe to do so
  6. 1 and 2
  7. 1, 3 and 4
  8. 1, 4 and 5
  9. 2, 3, and Tuesdays
  10. All of the Above
  11. None of the Above

You know what the answer is? Neither do I. Which is why I’m still driving around with my New Hampshire driver’s license. Everyone else on the highway apparently forked over $20 for that inaccurate cheat sheet I found online and thinks the correct answer is number 10 – which makes a quiet Saturday-morning trip out for a gallon of milk feel more like you’re the only one on the Interstate who’s got functioning turn signals and half a freakin’ brain. Moral of the story: learn how to get to all the important places without using the highway…

Most San Diegans live on the highway. Well, not on the highway – but the vast majority of people seem to live within an eyeshot of it. Drive along the freeways and you’ll be bombarded with views of bazillion-dollar mansions that boast spectacular views of current traffic conditions and accidents (mostly due to all those people who don’t know the correct answer to that passing question). Is it because people are unwilling to drive ten minutes beyond the nearest exit — or that they aspire to be traffic reporters? Either way, I’m bumfuzzled by it. In New England, people pay more money to not see an interstate from their bedroom…

Sunny is boring. I really miss rain. Never, in all my years, would I have ever guessed I’d be saying this, but the weather here is SO. FUCKING. BORING. There’s no point in watching the weather forecast because they just keep saying the same thing: today? Sunny and clear. Tomorrow? Sunny and Clear. All next month? Sunny and clear. When it does rain (and so far, I’ve only seen it rain once for about thirteen minutes), it’s the headline of the morning news. And it’s a freakin’ riot, because the newscasters go bonkers: Rain! JESUS GOD ALMIGHTY!! Stay indoors, all you San Diegans – even you heathen, uncircumcised sinners who aren’t really San Diegans, although say you are! Heed the almighty words of Our Lady of the I78 and remember: DO NOT GET THEE ON THE HIGHWAYS! For it is written that anyone can pass a vehicle on the right whenever the Spirit moves them in the rain. So pray with me, brothers and sisters, that this EVILNESS, this WRATH! called RAIN… that we be free of it righteously! BE GONE, YOU SATAN RAIN! Lordy. It’s all so ironic, given that there’s a drought here and rain’s supposed to be a good thing…

You can hear your neighbors fart. During our house hunt, it took seven seconds to realize that just about every house we could afford here (and even the massive ones we couldn’t) is no more than a spit away from the one next to it. Realtors claim it has to do with the ridiculously high price of land but all I know is that, when you’re that close to anyone, things aren’t pretty. You hear things you really wish you couldn’t. And it makes you wonder what your neighbors hear about you. So you do certain (ahem) things differently. Which, initially, can make for some inventive evenings. But then you grow tired of it. Eventually, you stop caring what others hear. Yesterday afternoon, I loudly farted out on my porch. It took a few minutes before I even registered that several neighbors likely heard it. Then I realized that it no longer mattered. Which made me laugh – then I realized that laughing would likely make me fart again – and that I should probably enclose that porch…

Oh dear God, I live in California. Well, at least I know how to pass on the freakin’ highway…

 

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