Monday, December 27, 2010

Slainte Mhah

Christmas is nearly completed.  I can tell it's nearly over because we are slowly but surely regaining our house.  The wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and curled ribbons are in the recycling bin.  The toys are slowly being put away and finally I can see the living room rug once more.  We've nearly run out of batteries and both my youngest & I have a lovely common cold that we'll generously share.

However, there's still random lego pieces waiting to remind you that it's not yet safe to tread barefoot in our house.  And there's still the scary-huge, Ferguson-recipe Christmas cake to remind you that there's still a mountain of edible ways to throw caution to the wind. If that cake had any more brandy, then instead of sitting in our Craig's List bargain cake stand, it would need a trifle bowl.

So it must be time to get ready for Hogmanay.  We have 4 friends scheduled to visit and so our house will double in occupants for the first week of 2011.  But it's worse, all of the visitors are ladies - so the inherent male dominance of the Tweddle household will be destroyed as well.

In LA we have a long Hogmanay celebration, with the UK being 8 hours ahead, we'll start by skyping relatives at 4pm.  Then we've friends and family on the east coast of USA to cheer on.  And finally we'll have our own midnight start to the new year.

For the 2009 Hogmanay, we'd been in the country for under 3 months and our belongings from the UK had arrived just days before.  For 2010, we had just bought our own tumble-down home, but still only had visas and I wasn't allowed to work or have a social security number.  This year, I will start with a work permit, a social security number and a stack of projects and commitments to work my way through.  With the date starting at 1/1/11 it feels like this year will be a new beginning - an American beginning.

In Scotland, we'd raise a glass and say 'Slainte Mhah'.  Pronounced something like 'Slan-jay Vah', it doesn't sound anything like it writes - a bit like me.  So I've just spent the last few moments searching for a link to where you can hear it said - I point you to 2 minutes 22 seconds into this video - (I hope you like rock).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

English Development II

My education in speaking Americanese, or more precisely Los Angelene, appears to be progressing more subtly these days.  Usually I'm understood.  Even though I don't think I'm speaking any differently, I manage to get the coffee I ordered and make appointments with relative ease.  Now, it's the nuances that catch me out.

Holidays.  In the UK, holiday means the same as vacation; though vacation would be some some kind of experience that 'Johnny Foreigner' takes part in.  The UK has bank holidays, Christmas holidays and doesn't differentiate the family summer holidays.  The word 'holidays' here however, exclusively refers to the scheduling of festivals and celebrations to induce the public sharing of insanity.  Bah Humbug! We had the same insanity sharing in the UK but, as with most things, the scale and depth are more extreme here.

Midday.  My latest find is that midday isn't considered as specific as noon is here.  Both are 12 o'clock back in the UK, and in Australia apparently, but here midday is a more fluid period in the middle of the day. Mind you, I don't think we use the word noon very often in the UK.  I think of noon as being like high noon and so I would expect to bring my duelling pistols to a meeting at high noon...  This is the wild west after all.

Just recently I found myself struggling to understand what was being said in a TV program. The accent and slang were sometimes unfathomable to me and yet the TV show was a Scottish reality TV program (this link is not for kids).  I suddenly started to understand how difficult some people find it to understand me.  Lynn and I are no strangers to not being understood.  In some of the posher areas of England it seems quite acceptable / common for people to feign that they can't understand a single word that is said with a Scottish accent.  My favorite retort was always, "I can understand you, so one of us must be stupid."  As I watched the TV, I realised that I was now residing on the stupid end of that comment...

I'm expecting that as I start to consider thinking, about maybe possibly, tentatively, looking for w*rk, that I'll start to discover a new set of new words that confuse and befuddle.  Till then, Toodle Pip!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Too busy to W*rk

We really have no time at the moment. So I should, obviously, be doing something else. Like ordering replacement windows, or more firewood, or making appointments with the dentist, or returning the wrongly sized sprinkler valve assembly, or building shelves in my youngest's bedroom, or redesigning the web-site for, or considering how best to incorporate a blog for a pals' website, or fixing the broken moulding in my eldest bedroom, or... well you get the picture.  That's just the stuff I remember without really thinking and feel ok sharing.

Yesterday we received emails saying the USCIS have approved our work permits and that they are in the post.  I'm paralysed with the fear that I might have to w*rk in a j*b.  I can't think straight.

Maybe I should start with a temping agency, that way I could get the flavour of the American w*rkplace without the ties and baggage of a permanent position.  Maybe I should just talk to recruitment consultant and dive straight in...  Hmm.  I used to know a guy who w*rked as a recruitment consultant; he never placed anyone, always spoofed his appointments and moved job every 2-3 months before anyone noticed he was mostly at home sleeping or getting stoned.  Perhaps recruitment consultants aren't all like that.

I should spend time on my CV/Resume - I considered it unlucky before I got a permit to w*rk.  I should by a suit, or at least more long trousers/pants.  I should get proper shirts, even ties, shoes that aren't sneaker-ish...

Then again, I do seem a bit too busy to add to w*rk to my timetable.  And do I want a j*b that requires corporate attire and corporate attitude?  Didn't I get enough of that back in the UK?  And here the bureaucracy is even worse than back there, it would drive me mad.

I think I'll start on the shelves.

*- sorry for the expletives