Monday, October 30, 2006

Speaking of cars...

Several days ago, Rob and I were listening to the radio while commuting. We rarely do this, because we both reject the idea of having our music interrupted by commercials. My approach to radio-listening is that when the station starts gearing up for a commercial break, I switch the radio off, wait a few minutes, and then switch it back on.

After about seven minutes of silence, I turned the radio back on to find some car dealership in the middle of talking up their selection:

"...from the practical [some sedan], to the rugged [some 4x4]..."

I considered the choice of words for a moment. There are a few excellent, highly useful words that are just gone. The meaning has been lost or corrupted through frequent, incorrect, or colloquial use, and the word will never be the same. "Awesome" has gone hand-in-hand with "dude" long enough that if you try to use to it mean "awe-inspiring," you sound like a dork, or a university professor. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Many of of my favorite people are professors. But, for the most part, "awesome" is gone.

Rob's favorite example of this phenomenon is "extreme." Everything from skateboarding to soda pop has been called "extreme," to the point that it just seems better to choose another word when trying to describe something as highly unconventional. Of course, the first alternative the comes to my mind is "radical," which makes me think immediately about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So there you go.

What I find amusing about throwing "rugged" up against "practical" is the implication that the former is the opposite of the latter. The sort of vehicle that might be classified as "rugged" tends to be a big, gas-guzzling, four-wheel drive number that's not afraid of rocky terrain or, you know...a Volkswagen beetle. Practical, certainly, if you plan on going off-road with any kind of frequency, but not really practical for surface street-crusin' cityfolk. Except in the ego-boosting sense, apparently.

Keeping this in mind, I puzzled over what the car dealership was getting at when they called a vehicle "practical." When I posed the question to my husband, he suggested:

"Anything you might expect to see a baby seat in."

Hmph. That would make my adorable, fuel-efficient, and ver practical car a family car, wouldn't it? My problem with this is linguistic only (since it's possible that this time next year, there may very well be a baby seat in my car). So, if my SAT-prep serves me, "practical" is currently to vehicles what "family" is to restaurants. But "family" might be one of the next words to go. After all, "family-friendly" tends to mean "kid-centric to point of eradicating adult fun," and the phrase "family values" whiffs more of gay-bashing than anything else.

If "family" goes the way of "awesome" and "extreme," will "practical" take its place?


Friday, October 27, 2006

A lesson in maternal guilt

I have a new car.

Like, a new new car. As in, the year on the car won't be here for another two months. I think I'm cheating the Universe somehow, because this is my first car. I learned to drive at the ripe old age of 21, and got my driver's license shortly after my 22nd birthday. Because I am both cowardly when it comes to trying new things, and generally kind of lazy, I almost never drive. And yet, somehow, this all adds up to my getting a new car.


Unfortunately, it turns out that I am a terrible new (car) mother. Said car had not even been in my possession for two whole days when I managed to scratch up the passenger side doors while attempting to maneuver into an itty-bitty downtown Seattle parking garage space. Two days! Not even!

It seems I can't be trusted with new, expensive, even-more-expensive-to-repair things. And maybe it's the PMS talking, but I can just see myself doing something equally idiotic as a parent: dropping my newborn on his head certainly comes to mind. I know my car isn't sentient (at least, I'm pretty sure it isn't, but with all of its high-techness, who's to say?), but I think if it could speak, it might just say something about me shirking my duties as caretaker.

Today, I kind of feel like a bad mother. And not in the Shaft sense.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

And suddenly, it's Fall

I don't know where the time has gone. It seems as though I was just reflecting on summer, and how the meaning of 4th of July weekend has been forever changed in my mind (thanks, honey!), and now, all of the sudden, I look around and the leaves are red and orange, the pumpkins and pony bales are piling up at the local fruit market, and I find myself walking around the house in a tank top and bare feet wondering, "Why is it so cold in here?"

For some reason, summer was tiring this year. Perhaps the exceptionally long days lead to keeping exceptionally long hours, thereby getting exceptionally little rest. Or perhaps amidst the excitement of entertaining friends and family, finally having our marriage convalidated by the Catholic Church (oh, yes we did), and celebrating our first year together by vacationing at the scene of the crime, I found myself trying to do too much.

Somehow, I got the idea that I had to do All of It, and It had to be Perfect. I kind of wish I could blame this on having watched too much Martha Stewart Living in the two months between college and marriage. However, historical data seems to indicate that I have always been like this: putting undue pressure on myself to make everything Perfect, even (especially?) when Perfect is a.) an illusion, b.) an impossibility, c.) a construct of some marketing dude designed to make me buy something I can't afford and don't need, or d.) all of the above. For some reason, I decided that not only did I need the perfect house, the perfect family, the perfect marriage... I needed the perfect blog. And when I realized the impossibility of my task, the blog was the first to go.

The season change alone may not be enough to help usher in a self-inflicted attitude adjustment, but it can't hurt. Turning over a new leaf as the leaves begin to fall, reevaluating myself as I try to remember where I put that box of sweaters, gloves, and scarves from last Fall.

This has the potential to get maudlin very, very quickly. But returning to blogging after a months-long hiatus is a lot like picking up the phone to call a friend after having failed to call all those weeks ago, when you promised you would.

In short, I'm back to blogging. And I don't mind if I suck at it.