Fixing All the Things – or Trying to, Anyway

Originally my post for today was going to be about my mad love for Moulin Rouge, as I watched it for the umpteenth time last night. Instead I will write about my day of attempted fixes.

First up, the blog. I had to do a manual update of WordPress, which in and of itself wasn’t too difficult, but when you haven’t done something the not-easy-but-not-all-that-hard way for a long time, it takes a while to figure out how to do it without screwing up a bunch of other stuff. I spent a lot of time searching the help forums, emailing back and forth with a friend who knows WordPress well, and fiddling with PHP files. I still cannot get it to create directories so that I can update my plugins, or even switch to a new theme, but that’s an issue for tomorrow or later in the week.

Second, my car. Agnes Lincoln has served me well for 5 years to the point I’ve gotten spoiled. Working from home means I don’t drive as much, so maintenance costs have been minimal. But tonight that all changed, as she wouldn’t start after I went to get tacos for dinner. A jumpstart didn’t work, so I had the car towed to a service station. The tow truck guy predicted a fuel pump issue, based on what he saw and what I told him. We shall see. I know enough about cars to know that I want someone else to deal with every aspect of their maintenance.

In true child-of-the-70s-and-80s fashion, I always think of Schneider from “One Day at a Time” whenever I have to be in fixit mode. He may have been a bit of a pest, and not the most skilled handyman, but he was funny and had a good heart. Here’s hoping the person who works on my car has excellent skills AND is as nice as Schneider, and has reasonable rates, too.

Schneider was THE fixit guy of the 70s and 80s.

Hard Habits to Break

When I was a kid, Momcat and Pops had specific ways of doing things but didn’t necessarily have reasons as to why they did these things the way they did. It was likely the way they were taught by their parents, and their parents before them. These things ranged from food preferences to cooking styles. Momcat did not use any other white rice but Uncle Ben’s Converted Long Grain, nor did she ever buy white bread, grape jelly or shredded cheese. We never had honey in the house because Pops hated it. All of our towels came in sets of two and included a matching hand towel and washcloth. When I got my driver’s license and started driving the family vehicles, Momcat was vigilant in letting me know I needed to move the seat all the way back when I was done using the car, because the next person driving the car might be Pops and he needed more legroom. And you never, NEVER, put a bumper sticker on a car.

Once I was living on my own, I did a lot of things the same way as I was taught. I bought block cheese and shredded it as needed. I never bought honey. My towel sets were always two bath, two hand and two washcloths. I always pushed the driver’s seat all the way back when I got out of the car – even though it was my car and no one else was driving it.

It took me a while to realize that a number of these habits weren’t really Moxie originals – I had taken them on because they had been instilled in me by my parents.  I started questioning each one. Was oatmeal for breakfast something I really liked? No. I like oatmeal but it doesn’t fill me up. Same with cereal. So I stopped buying cereal. I stopped drinking most juices because they gave me heartburn. Tired of shredding my fingers on the cheese grater, I stopped buying block cheese and now I only buy shredded. On my 30th birthday, for the first time ever, I had honey in my peppermint tea and was astounded at how good it was. Now I’m never without a jar of honey. And the bumper sticker thing? I put a window cling for my alma mater in my car’s back window and Momcat lit into me when she saw it. “WE do NOT put stickers on OUR cars!” she said, glaring at me.

Some of those habits, have passed my idiosyncrasy litmus test. While I may not be buying Uncle Ben’s anymore, Momcat’s rice cooking methods (2:1 ratio, boil water, add rice, cover, lower heat, DO NOT LIFT THE LID) have proven to be failproof. I like having handtowels because I use them to dry my hair – the bath sheets I prefer to buy are way too big for my head. And while grape jelly is fun to eat, especially with peanut butter, there’s something quite spectacular about apricot preserves or a lovely mixed berry jam on good bread.

Oh, and the driver’s seat? As it so happens, the car I’m currently driving has a programmable seat. I positioned the seat just the way I wanted it, then I pressed a button that saved the settings. Now every time I turn on the ignition, the seat automatically moves to where I want it, and slides back when I turn off the engine. God bless technology.

What habits were passed down to you from your parents?

Pedestrian Rage

I’ve been using public transit for 6-plus months now. In that time I’ve figured out the LA transit system a bit better: I’ve learned that the online trip planner sucks if you’re trying to calculate the most efficient route anywhere, that if Mussolini isn’t around you can forget about trains being on schedule, and that the people you meet while riding the bus are an interesting bunch, to put it mildly.

Right before my car was repo’ed (it’s still hard to say or type that), I had been getting very nervous about driving. The drivers here can be so crazy and self-centered, and all of them seem to be of the belief that their car and their errands trump anyone else’s, and how dare you want to be on the 405 freeway at the same time as me? Don’t you know who I am? It was getting to be more than I could take.

What I’m finding, though, is that being a pedestrian is no less nerve-wracking. As I walk to and from bus stops and train stations, I’m extremely annoyed by the obnoxiousness of drivers. Now I don’t have a big hunk of metal and heavy-duty plastic to protect me from the insanity of L.A. drivers who are so busy yammering into Bluetooth headsets (or Blueteeth, as Peter likes to call them) or texting or looking anywhere but at the road. I’m doing my part to obey the road rules – jaywalking can get you a ticket in LA – so being at the mercy of stupid drivers makes me enraged. Didn’t driver’s ed talk about “the pedestrian has the right of way”? Or does that concept carry about as much weight as “the customer is always right”?

Walking around with all this rage isn’t helpful to me or anyone else, of course. I’ve started talking back to people who act a damn fool on mass transit. Like the guy who sat down on the escalator right in front of me, then leaned back to talk to me – and I had on a skirt that day. “Dude! That is so not cool!” I yelled, then walked around him. Yesterday I flipped off a bus driver who nearly mowed me down while I was legally crossing the street. And I’m very close to banging on someone’s car in a crosswalk and yelling “I’m walkin’ here!”

It’s all the more amusing, then, that I’ve started planning a new website/blog, Mass Transit Tales. It’s going to be a central location for the positive stories coming out of metropolitan public transportation systems throughout the country, possibly worldwide. Because while I’ve had some hellish experiences in the LA transit system, I’ve also had some very funny and uplifting ones. I figure I’m not alone, either.

So if you have some good stories you’d like to share about riding the bus, trolley or subway, please shoot me an e-mail at editors at masstransittales dot com. I’ll be posting ads soon on Craigslist to build up a collection for the site.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on choking down my pedestrian rage.