27 May 2010

Dress British; Think Yiddish

I stole the title of this post from Gene Simmons--the Israeli-born frontman of KISS who once trained to be a rabbi. Simmons claims the key to being successful is to "dress British; think Yiddish." I kind of wonder if he isn't referring to the Yiddish term Yiddische Kof--literally "a Jewish head", which refers to being shrewd--as opposed to a "Goyische Kopf, " which is, well, a Yiddish phrase that means to not be quite so shrewd, but that's besides the point.

I dress anything but British--my style is more fashion inept dork--but I am somewhat over half Jewish (We argue about how much is on my dad's side, but my mom is full-blooded) and I practice Judaism, so I like to think that I think Yiddish. To that end, I also love to use Yiddish. It's a rich language with so many wonderful expressions--and heaps of delightful insults--and I think it is an absolute shame that Yiddish is dying out. Therefore, my dear readers, I want to introduce you to the joys of Yiddish with a small sampler of this delightful language.

I will start off by saying that this is by all means not an exhaustive list of Yiddish words. I would also like to add that I have excluded a few words just because, well, to be honest, Yiddish has a lot of profanity in it (Waaaaaay more than you guys would think and some of the more famous Yiddish words--like "schmuck" and "putz"--are actually very vulgar and would never ever be used in polite company. Therefore, for the sake of not having my younger readers' parents try to kill me for corrupting their kids' minds with Yiddish profanity, I have left the more loaded words off.)

And with that, I give you my list of favorite Jewish words, many of which describe specific personality types perfectly. ^^

chazzer--a pig. Chazzer refers to someone who either eats like a pig or acts like one by being slovenly, coarse, or greedy: "Look at that chazzer! He has a banana peel on his suit!"

chutzpah--audacity/brashness. Many people use chutzpah as a synonym for "courage" but actually this word has a very negative connotation in Yiddish. Someone with chutzpah is someone who has presumptuously crossed the line. Being told you have a lot of chutzpah is the equivalent of having an old lady shake her fist at you and shout "You got some nerve!" Feel free to use chutzpah in this context next time you get cut off while in traffic.

draycup--someone who is perpetually confused to a spectacular level. (Like, as one example I read puts it, someone who doesn't just lose her keys but loses her car in the process.) Perfect for describing a spacey airhead: "My sister is such a draycup!"

kibbitz: (verb) to butt in and provide unwanted advice. I believe all mothers do this at some point in their lives. :P Kibbitz describes the act of providing this advice. A kibbitzer is someone who is kibbitzing: "That kibbitzer has kibbitzed for the last time!"

klutz: a clumsy person. I am a klutz. If people look at you when you enter in a room not because of your graceful entrance but because you trip over the carpet and smash Grandma's antique Ming vase, you are also a klutz.

kvell: to be proud of an accomplishment (either your own or others'): The key to kvelling is the intense accompanying urge to tell everyone else about said accomplishment. When your parents embarrass you by telling your next-door neighbor that you won your school spelling bee, they are kvelling. When you tell your cousin that you stole her boyfriend, you are kvelling . . . maybe.

kvetch: to chronically and excessively complain. The noun for someone who kvetches is kvetcher. ("That kvetcher never shuts up!" "Don't kvetch about it anymore!"). This word literally means "to squeeze". Anyone who has ever been subjected to a kvetcher knows exactly what this feels like. :P

maven: an expert. Like many Yiddish words that are not blatant insults, this seems like a relatively innocuous phrase, but it's actually just another insult. (Yeah, we Jews have fully earned our reputation as sharp-tongued.) Maven is rarely used as a compliment, as in "You're such a maven!". Usually it is used as shorthand for "know-it-all." Next time your brother-in-law offers to fix your car and causes $3000 worth of damage instead, congratulate him on being such a maven. :P

meshugganer: a crazy person. This is a fun word, because there are so many variations. The adjective for crazy is meshuggah, and insanity itself is mishegas. Next time you're tempted to twirl your fingers at your ear to indicate that someone is a loon, instead exclaim, "Can you believe this meshuggah mushugganer's mishegas?!"

nebbish: a loser. This is one of my favorite Yiddish words. A nebbish is a someone who is so pathetic you really sorry for him, yet he is so annoying you can't stand him. Woody Allen often plays a nebbish.

noodge: to pester/whine. Noodge is also a noun that refers to someone who noodges. "I heard you the first time! Stop being such a noodge!

nosh: to snack. This is just a cute word! What sounds better: "I am going to eat some pretzels" or "I am going to nosh on pretzels"?

nu: This doesn't have an actual translation. Usually, nu is used to indicate "Well" or "So": "That is interesting, nu?"; "Nu? Why should I care?" Depending on the context, nu can mean anything from "Hello" to "Huh?" to "Duh!" It works for any occasion. Next time you feel like being cryptic, respond to everyone statements with a simple "Nu?"

nudnik: a pest. A nudnik is just annoying. Younger siblings are prime candidates for nudnik status.

oy: Like nu, this is a word with several meanings. Usually it is an outburst that indicates frustration or anger or exhaustion. "Oy! I just got beat up by a zombie ninja penguin!" but it can also be a good outburst: "Oy! I defeated a zombie ninja penguin in hand-to-hand combat!"

plotz: This is a word that has some controversy attached to it. I have always heard it as "faint" usually in frustration/anger--"Don't tell grandma. She'll plotz!"--but sometimes in a good way--"I was so surprised, I nearly plotzed!" During my study for this post, I learned that plotz actually literally means "explode" and some Jews use it solely in this context, which usually indicates anger: "ARGGGGGH! That idiot telemarketer makes me want to plotz!" Either way, it is a cool word to indicate strong emotion. Next time your mother yells at you, beg her not to plotz. (Well, maybe don't do that. She is liable to plotz if you say that.) :P

schlemazel: a born loser. Schlemazels have horrible luck. A schlemazel is someone who, to quote my father, can't win for losing. No matter what he does, it never works.

schlemiel: an incompetent, inept person. A schlemiel is someone who screws everything up no matter how simple the task is. To tie in with the previous entry, an old Yiddish saying says a schlemiel is the guy who always spills his soup. A schlemazel is the guy whom the schlemiel always spills his soup on.

schlep: to drag/carry something. Originally in order to schlep, one had to be carrying/dragging something somewhere. ("I'm schlepping my luggage to the airport.") Now schlep is also used to to indicate that one is dragging oneself. ("I'm schlepping to my next class.") As the definition indicates, the pace of a schlep would not cut it in most P.E. classes.

schlock: junk. There are several Yiddish words to indicate that something is worthless. Some of them literally mean than the object in question is a piece of crap, others--like schlock--just indicate that something is cheaply made and of dubious quality: "What did you pay for that schlock?"

schlub: an unattractive, stupid person. You may have noticed that a lot of Yiddish words call into question one's intellectual abilities, but I am not sure any of them sound quite as insulting as schlub. ("Rachel's boyfriend is such a schlub.")

schmaltz: Literally, this word refers to goose fat drippings, but it is commonly used to describe something that is overly sentimental, like most Disney movies. Next time you watch a heartwarming film and are feeling cynical, disrupt everyone's bragging on it by saying, "I thought it was too schmaltzy." And if you're feeling really mean or just really like Yiddish, try "I thought it was schmaltzy schlock." (or "schlocky schmaltz" if you prefer.)

schnook: an unusually meek/gullible person. You know that kid down the street who bursts into tears if you blink at him? He is a schnook. Your friend who always falls for April Fool's jokes is also a schnook. The guy who believes you when you tell him you have a bridge in Brooklyn that you want to sell is a major schnook.

schnorrer: a beggar/leech. This one is pretty self-explanatory based on the definition. We all know a schnorrer. Next time your no-count brother-in-law tries to borrow money from you, tell him to stop being a schnorrer and get a job.

yekke: a German Jew. I am a yekke. My maternal great-grandparents hailed from Berlin and Munich. You're probably wondering why German Jews have earned themselves their own name. Well, much as how Germans are stereotyped as being humorless and excessively efficient, we yekkes are stereotyped by other Jews as being freakishly obsessed with details and punctuality. This is a stereotype that cuts both ways. On one hand, we yekkes pride ourselves on our reputation. We think our meticulous thoroughness is a good thing. Other Jews think we're overbearing, condescending, and petty. I suppose some yekkes dislike this characterization of us, but I kind of like the look of holy terror that other Jews develop when I tell them I'm a yekke. *crafty smile* I would argue this is just a stereotype, but I fit the yekke stereotype to a tee, so there you go. Next time one of you catch me having an online meltdown over an incorrect fact or a semicolon, you have my permission to say, "Zella, stop being so yekkish!"

yente: a shrew. Many people think this word means matchmaker. Um, no. At one time, Yente was a perfectly respectable Yiddish name for girls. Eventually, it became an insult that describes a woman who gossips and talks incessantly. The confusion comes from the movie Fiddler on the Roof, because the village matchmaker is named Yente. The character's name is actually a play on the name and the insult, but many people incorrectly assumed a yente was a Jewish matchmaker. Never call a Jewish woman this to her face, but feel free to use it to describe a very disagreeable woman behind her back. :P

Based on Scott's suggestion, I was going to post a list of the words from Weird Al Yankovic's "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi", but when I googled the lyrics, I found this handy guide that already had the Yiddish words translated. It's a pretty good list, but in true yekkish fashion, I must add two notes: schtik, more correctly translated, is a gimmicky act or persona a performer is famous for, sort of like how Groucho Marx is famous for his insults and eyebrows. Also, "shicksa" is a misspelling of the word shiksa, though they got the definition right.

Now that you have read this list, I believe a party is in order. We shall dine upon bagels and listen to "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" incessantly! *cranks up music*

P.S. In a language that is so rich in insults, you may be wondering if we even have a word that is a genuine compliment without underlying sarcasm. Yes, we do! We really do! No joke. The word is mensch. To be called a mensch by a Jew is the greatest compliment you could ever receive (and, as you may have noticed, is much better than some of the alternatives ^^). A mensch is an honest, honorable person who is a true friend. I consider all of my Blogger pals to be mensches. :)

What is your favorite Yiddish word?

20 May 2010

My Day Glued To A Chair

I realize that a majority of my readers are not yet voting age, so I may be asking a moot question: How many of you had state primaries this Tuesday? My state had a primary! In fact, I worked as an election official in it. Now, before you get any ideas about my involvement, my role was quite minor. I was a clerk. Translated into actual job duties, this means I asked people for their driver's license; checked their address and birth date against the county's records; asked them which primary ballot they wanted--Democratic, Republican, or non-partisan judicial; then asked them to sign their name in our records. (I am always getting stuck as a clerk/secretary/recorder. As student editor of my college's literary magazine, I was first pick as secretary. I don't know why. Is it my glasses?) As mundane as this may sound, my job as an election clerk actually shaped up to be a rather interesting day, even though it lasted for nearly thirteen hours.

I would like to say I was picked as an election official because of some mystical qualifications I possess, like laser vision or the ability to correctly guess most of the answers on Wheel of Fortune, but the truth is my grandfather is good friends with the county election commissioner and the commissioner wanted to know if I was interested, because I have a reputation for being honest. I agreed, the $125 I'd be paid for working in one day was some small enticement, so I attended a two hour course last week and was told to show up at the city community center on Election Day at 7:30am. Simple enough, yes? Well, in theory.

In reality, I showed up to find what appeared to be utter bedlam. There were six tables set up for six different precincts with stacks of paperwork on each one and the head guy told me I was thirty minutes late. When I protested that the form I received told me to come at 7:30am, so by arriving at 7:25am I had assumed I was early, he hollered at the county clerk's assistant to send coherent instructions next time and ordered me over to a table. In theory, all of the inexperienced workers, like myself, should be paired with experienced workers. Instead, I soon found that of my four colleagues, only two had previous experience with election work. The rest of us were utter newbies. Heck, I always early vote at the clerk's office, so I had never even voted on Election Day before! Even better, we had the least number of workers per table and were assigned to cover three precincts, the most represented by one station. *twirls finger*

After some initial jitters, we finally determined who was doing what and took our seats. As is common in the small town I live in, I soon realized I knew all of my coworkers by association. The real estate agent who was technically our section's leader used to work with my uncle; the retiree who was my recorder comes in the library I work at all the time; the other clerk is the sister-in-law of one of my library colleagues; and the other recorder was my mother's fourth husband's landlord's wife (Seeing as that rent agreement was terminated following a meth lab explosion, I decided not to mention the association. ^^)

At first things were kind of crazy--for several reasons. In addition to the fact that we were handling three precincts between the five of us, we soon learned that there was no central location for voters to determine which precinct they belonged to and, since 90% of them had no idea what precinct they voted in--do they even look at their voter registration cards?--we became the default location for queries by virtue of our location closest to the door. There was only one map that detailed where precincts were located and said map spent a lot of time away from us, so most of the time we just had to estimate based on addresses. ("Oh, is that south of town? How far south? Hmm . . . I think you should go over there. If not, try the table next to it.")

We soon got in a routine and ended up being rather efficient with our traffic directions and identification confirmation procedures. Though our system was decidedly low tech (what with our handwritten confirmations and manual checking of ID), most people were relatively understanding. We did have some people who were outraged that we dare ask for ID. OMG! I didn't realize I was talking to a celebrity. Your biographical notice wasn't included in my welcome packet, pal. Now fork over your driver's license. I also had one woman who went ballistic when I asked for her birthdate, and she started kvetching about how old she was as I asked her to sign her name:

Me: "Ma'am, would you please sign your name."
Crazy Woman: "I am an old lady now!"
Me: Ma'am, would--"
Crazy Woman: "Just old!"
Me: "Um, ma'am, we need--"
Crazy Woman: "I am so old--"
Me: "Ma'am, please--"
Crazy Woman: "--that I--"
Me: "MA'AM!"
Crazy Woman: "--remember when these here elections were--
Crazy Woman: "OLD! OLD! OLD! OLD! OLD!"
Me: *contemplates stabbing crazy woman with pen before instead shoving paper in her face and wildly waving pen under her nose in a desperate attempt to shut her up*

In between refraining from murdering an old woman stuck in 1950 and trying to decipher people's addresses to direct them to the right polling station, I got my only exercise of the day by running into the break room to snatch doughnuts, cookies, and brownies to munch mindlessly.

As we had feared, come lunchtime we were stormed by voters. Before this, I had kept a careful mental tally of all of the people I know that I had seen. (This is a pastime in my hometown. When you see someone in public, you must tell your family when you get home. This is so we can compare notes on the last time we saw them with what we observed this time.) By now, everyone just started to blur together and if they told me to tell my grandma "hi" or passed along an insulting but affectionate greeting to my brother, I couldn't tell you if my life depended on it. I do remember my friend Dana came in, but that may be because he spoke to me directly and didn't treat me like a message service. (Take that, people who treat me like a message service and don't talk to me directly!) I begin to develop one of my splitting tension headaches, which always like to sneak up on me in the afternoons. Technically, none of us were allowed out of the voting area while the polls were open, so one of my friends stopped by and offered to bring me something to eat. I had already devoured a bowl of chicken stew, so I turned down the offer, though later I would regret doing so. :(

As the afternoon wore on, we had morphed into a lean, mean election machine. We were doling out ballots at warp speed. Full speed ahead! I was also mindlessly noshing on chips, cheese crackers, and what was left of the brownies at an alarming rate. At some point, I remembered taking that eating quiz on Auntie Sparknotes. (Any of you take it? Um, I didn't fare too well on it . . . ) I tried to stop by focusing on how incredibly numb my legs were from sitting for seven hours. I also began to pay attention to what other polling stations were doing. This only served to irritate me, because they were mispronouncing the ballot's name! The woman next to us was calling the non-partisan judicial ballots non-judicial ballots. Those ballots were only for judicial races. She was calling them the exact opposite what they were and, as an anal retentive obsessive compulsive perfectionist, I found this really pissed me off. I tried to remind myself what a jerk I was being and instead returned to focusing on my numb legs.

After about 5pm, I started to suffer the consequences of noshing on junk food non-stop. My stomach started to hurt and I felt nauseous. Fortunately, this coincided with a rush of after-work voters, so I didn't have time to be sick. I also noticed a drastic shift in everyone's personalities. After being locked in the same room for over nine hours, we all started to get stir-crazy. Everyone--myself included--started shifting in their seats (As if that was actually going to help) and jumping up every five minutes to check for signs of electioneering. (We feared sudden ninja attacks via campaign signs within 100 yards of the polls, hence the necessity of frequent stealth searches. No, honestly! We were most certainly not just temporarily running away to preserve our sanity. I swear! Election worker's honor!) We also started filling out the paperwork we needed to finish after the election about an hour before the polls closed while everyone obsessively checked their watches. Raucous celebration broke out when someone shouted we only had fifteen minutes left. Party time! Five minutes before the official closing time, we started putting away chairs and everything else, but we kept the ballots and ballot box on the table for the sake of appearances.

Our joy was tragically cut short when we tallied up the number of ballots we had left. You see . . . before leaving, we're required by law to count the number of voters our little station served and correlate that with the number of ballots used. Despite our best efforts--and repeated calculations--we always came up with three more ballots than we were supposed to have. Thirty minutes later, we still had the same screwy numbers and we all looked ready to cry . . . or kill. The guy in charge of our entire bundle of precincts told us that if we were short of ballots, we would be in big trouble, but since we were instead long on ballots, we had probably been given a few more than we were supposed to, so he allowed us to sign out and go home, which we all promptly did. I drove home and celebrated the end of a long day by sleeping for eleven hours.

And that, my friends, is the epic tale of my day glued--metaphorically--to a chair. I get to do it all over again in three weeks for the state run-off elections. I will be bringing myself a pillow . . . and some extra snacks. :P

16 May 2010

Zella Kate's Nearly Fool-Proof Guide To A Pleasant, Embarrassment-Free Graduation

Greetings, gentle readers! I graduated with my A.A. yesterday, so I decided to blog about my experience. I have only been to two graduations--my high school graduation, which was technically not really a high school graduation because I was homeschooled and have a GED not an actual high school diploma, and then this college graduation, so I am not really an expert on graduations, but I hope this post is a help to those of you who will be graduating this year (and a dose of amusement for all of you.). Without further ceremony--get the hideous pun?--I give you my list of ten things to remember:

Clothing (I am the world's worst person to give fashion advice, so I am just being practical here):

1. Don't wear lots of layers or very heavy clothes: If you remember nothing else, remember this: You will, in addition to whatever you have on, be in a gown and a somewhat ridiculous hat (more on the cap later). You will probably be waiting for almost an hour in a hot room/hallway in said get-up while you are given instructions and lined up like cattle. You will have to sit in said get-up for an extended period of time while someone rambles on at your commencement and while the degrees are passed out, which is another hour or so. Let's just say you will get overheated quickly and will want to die. Yesterday, I wore a dress and jacket under my gown, which is really dumb because I am very heat sensitive and have had two heat strokes before. After about twenty minutes, I felt like a turkey on Thanksgiving morning--roasted. I would chalk this up to my heat sensitivity, but everyone else next to me was complaining that they were overheated, too. Wear something light. But whatever you do, do not wear shorts. Silly people like myself will see you in a gown with what looks like absolutely nothing underneath and automatically assume you are not fully dressed, which childish people like myself find hilarious. *giggles*

2. Realize that you will be negotiating stairs, in all likelihood, and a stage: If you wear five inch high heels all the time, you should be fine if you wear them at your graduation. But if you're like me and have had traumatizing experiences with high heels--mine involved tumbling over in a parking lot; I have one word for you: Owwwwwwww!--I suggest picking something you can easily walk in. You're going to feel self-conscious when you're walking up, anyway. No point in making it worse by wearing unwieldy stilts if you're not used to them. (I suppose you men can ignore this one. Lucky!)

3. Have someone else check and adjust your cap: You will just screw it up each time you touch it. And it will never feel straight. I kept thinking mine was crooked when it was fine. Whenever it was straight, it felt crooked. My friend Stephanie kept telling me to just not look at it or touch it because I was making it worse. But it felt crooked! And, please, dear God, make sure the cap's on right. (One guy next to me had his on backwards. We all thought it was funny and couldn't figure out why. Someone finally told him. He was like, "Well, I wondered why it was so uncomfortable." o_O)

Before/At The Ceremony:

4. Make sure anyone you invite knows how to get there and has precise directions: Hehe I told some friends who were coming to turn off at the Exxon Station, which is next to the school. "You can't miss it!", I told them. Well, while my family and I were driving to the graduation, my grandma asked me if I told my friends how to get there. "Of course. I told them to turn off at the Exxon Station." "Um, that's not an Exxon Station, Zella." "Yes, it is." "No, it's a Kum and Go." "Oh." Grandma was right. It was a Kum and Go Station. I have driven by it everyday for almost two years and didn't know that. *heads desk* Fortunately, my friends found their way by ignoring my directions and following street signs.

5. Watch the person ahead of you to see where you're supposed to walk and what you're supposed to do: If you have anything bigger than a medium-sized graduation, things will quickly turn into an assembly-line procedure. Everyone just falls into line like automaton drones. It's much easier on you if you go with the flow and tromp after the person ahead of you. What's this? You may be the first one? Change your last name.

6. Clap after the obligatory music and speeches and introductions even if you are feeling grouchy and could not care less. It's just common courtesy. Everyone will clap for you though they probably do not know you. But do not clap for every graduate when they get their degree unless there are only three of you. Your hands will start to sting very quickly. (I lasted through the first row before I decided that my hands needed preservation.)

7. When you're on stage, pause briefly so your family can photograph you but don't hold up the line. Otherwise, your older brother, who is manning the camera, will yell at you later for not stopping. I didn't see him waving at me. Well, I did, but I thought it was a happy, congratulatory wave, so I waved back as I sprinted back to my seat. For the last time: I am sorry!


8. Realize that your family will photograph you incessantly: For the most part, you should tolerate them. They are happy for you and if you indulge them a little, they will probably get it out of their system and leave you alone. However, it can quickly get out of hand if you're forced to pause and smile every two minutes. If so, you have two options. You could shout at them to stop, but that rarely works and just unnecessarily hurts your family's feelings. The better method is to make lugubrious faces at the camera every time they try to take your picture. They will get the message AND the resulting pics will be pretty darn funny. (I would post some of mine from yesterday, but when I look lugubrious, I look deranged. :P)

9. Get photos of anyone you want pics with ASAP: If you want someone's picture (be it a teacher or a friend), hunt them down and force them to have their picture taken. It doesn't take long for everyone to scatter and never be seen again. (I learned this the hard way--I wanted a picture with one of professors who I have been particularly close to over the past year. I shook hands with him and walked off to find some others I wanted to talk to. By the time I caught up with my family, who had the camera, and went to go look for him, my notoriously shy professor had run away. Drat!)

10. Have fun! Congratulations! You put in a lot of effort and deserve the recognition for all your hard work! *hug* :)

Are you graduating this year? Have you graduated already? Any other tips to add? :)

10 May 2010

Ode to Geriatric Cars

I am not sure what it is with me, but I always have car trouble during my finals. Previous semesters have seen me suddenly vehicle-less (Is that a word? I am making it a word if it isn't.) due to everything from flat tires to bad weather.

Don't think that my car is unreliable, for that is not so. My trusty little Honda Accord--which I have named Mr. Moto--has been a faithful friend to me over the past two years. I have commuted to school and work ten hours a week for the past year (and about seven hours a week the year before), so I spend a lot of time in my car. I love my car. We're good friends.

However, my car is fifteen years old and Mr Moto's age is starting to catch up with him. As with any beloved geriatric relative, my car has certain little health problems that must be tolerated. For instance, when I turn the wheel sharply, the car shuts down and must be restarted. When I reverse and turn the wheel too sharply, the car shuts down. When I keep my foot on the brake for longer than about a minute or two, the car shuts down. When I turn the wheel and am going uphill or downhill, the car makes a ghastly knocking sound that I have yet to diagnose. And, for whatever reason, my "Check Engine" light pops up every time I start the car after it has sat for a few hours. As the bookworm in a family of practical, mechanically inclined people, my method of coping with this is to pull over and shut the car off before restarting it and going on my merry way.

No matter what my darling Mr. Moto has pulled on me, he has always started right back up with no problem and transported me safely to my next location. That was not so Tuesday. On that day, which was my last day of regular classes, I stopped by the library I work to ask my boss a question. Afterward, I started my car and backed out into the parking lot. I am not sure if it was the angle or what, but my car shut off and would not start back up. I was stranded in the parking lot with some very angry people glaring at me for blocking the entrance. No matter what I did the car would not stay on for longer than about five seconds. This was a first in our relationship. Moto has always been loyal to me and obeyed my every command.

I finally caved and called my family to come pick me up. Fortunately, my brother and grandpa came to my rescue and my bro--who used to work at an auto parts store--waved at the guy who was parked next to me. Come to find out, said random person was, of all things, a mechanic my brother used to work with. Wonderful saintly mechanic worked on my car for almost an hour, got my car started, and refused payment. (I hereby bestow Walter with a recommendation for canonization.) We were able to get my car home, but Walter warned us not to drive it until we had the problem--some oil filter something or other--taken care of.

That's all fine and good, but I had finals I had to take Thursday and Friday. I had to get to school! My brother, being a relatively good-natured person, offered to let me use his Jeep Cherokee for the time being. Just as every time I loan him my car I explain to him all of Moto's, erm, health problems, I asked for the rundown on his vehicle, which I have never before driven. Our conversation went like this:

Brother: "Well, there's not really anything to tell. Oh, um, well, the air conditioner doesn't work."

Me: "No AC?"

Brother "Roll down the window."

Me: "Okay. That's it, though?"

Brother: "The CD player doesn't work. You just have to use the radio."

Me: "Eeep! But that's it, right?"

Brother: "The 'Low Washer Fluid' stays on, but it's lying. It's full."

Me: "Cool!" I then proceeded to get in the Jeep and start the engine. While doing so, I detected a strange odor. "Um, what is that smell?"

Brother: "Nothing."

Me: "No, seriously, it smells horrible in here. What is that?"

Brother: "You don't want to know. Have a nice day at school." He backed away quickly and waved.

Me: "It smells like . . . like . . . a skunk."

Brother: "Um, yeah, I had an incident a few weeks ago. Do not tell Grandma. Adios."

So . . . I drove to school with my waist length hair billowing above my head like Medusa as I sat through annoying dee jays and even worse commercials in a vehicle that emanated the delightful odor of skunk musk. Whoohoo! I also discovered that driving a Jeep is much different from driving a car--I can whip into small parking spaces and maneuver easily in my nifty Honda. I soon realized driving that Jeep was like trying to steer a dinosaur. A smelly, lumbering dinosaur that lies about the status of its washer fluid and has no AC or CD player.

But you know what? I soon learned that I really like driving that Jeep. Why? I am one of society's shorties, so driving by people and having them look up at me while I passed was a novel experience. It made me feel tall! I saw signs I have never seen before! And driving that Jeep, what with its sturdy design and bulky build, makes me feel like I am riding in a tank. Now I want a helmet, like the one Patton was always photographed in. I think I'd look rather fetching in a helmet. Any of you have a helmet? I'll be leaving for work in about an hour, so just e-send it to me. :D

Have any geriatric car stories to tell? No? How about skunk encounters?

02 May 2010

Praise Be! I am a Highly Dorky Nerd Queen!

I always knew that I was a nerd. It's a personality trait that manifested itself early in my life and has stayed with me into adulthood. And I know that many of you, dear online friends, are fellow nerds.

But what is a nerd, some of you may wonder? A nerd, my dear gentle readers, defies description. As to paraphrase Louie Armstrong, if you have to have it described to you, you aren't one. However, the best definition I have found:

"Nerd is a term, often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavours, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests that are age-inappropriate, rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people."

If you substituted the opening word "nerd" with Zella, you would have a perfect description of myself, except for maybe the bit on technical and scientific endeavors. And what do I consider nerd qualifications?

I take optional finals for fun.

I collect encyclopedias.

I celebrate Sherlock Holmes's birthday and have an extensive argument for why that is in January and not in June.

I am pretty sure that Sherlock is real and alive and well, but nobody else believes me.

I can recite a Coen Brothers' movie quote for every occasion.

I read short stories in school anthologies that are not assigned to me.

I delight in being a non-conformist.

I think that grammar quizzes are fun.

I wrote two 70+ reports on Russian revolutionary thought when I was a high school senior and enjoyed every minute of it.

I like writing research papers.

I have only been invited to three birthday parties in my entire life. (The memories still traumatize me . . .)

I know the difference between inferring and implying and will judge you when you confuse the two.

I have more online friends than I have real life friends.

My real-life friends (with the exception of one normal person) are all strange. Not serial killer strange. But definitely strange.

I don't understand why anyone would hate Shakespeare.

I celebrate his birthday (the assumed date of his birth, anyway).

It distresses me that Kafka led an unhappy life.

I have a somewhat extensive battle plan for nerds to take over the world.

I know the difference between prefrontal and transorbital lobotomies and have performed them both on a skeleton for a live audience and scared my classmates witless in the process. :D

I have gotten into extensive online fights over Jane Eyre, Pink Floyd and Lord of the Flies. (Not together.)

I wear glasses and am nearly legally blind.

I am the queen of Trivial Pursuit and Risk.

I did a book inventory when I was twelve and stopped counting at twelve hundred.

I have only gotten rid of a half dozen books since then and buy about two hundred books a year.

Over thirty of my books are on Russian history.

Another twenty are on grammar/English/linguistics.

I compulsively buy books, just in case I may read them. Case in point: I got a free college chemistry instructor's manual at school Friday, just in case I ever want to read it. (I never will.)

I started reading at the age of two but was considered autistic for not being able to follow directions. (Just because I won't doesn't mean I can't.)

I think it's perfectly normal to talk to myself.

I name all of my possessions after favorite fictional characters.

I correct the grammar on the study guides I get at school.

I use words like "Forsooth" and "Alas" in conversation.

I do not drink coffee, but I own a coffee cup that says "I read a latte."

I cry when fictional characters die in books.

I read dictionaries and encyclopedias.

People always tell me I am a nerd.

I have taken an online nerd test for fun.

And now, because of this last item, I finally have honest-to-goodness proof that I am a nerd, because it is official: I am a Highly Dorky Nerd Queen. *points to nerd graph below*

NerdTests.com says I'm a Highly Dorky Nerd Queen.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

I was surprised with the results for science, math, and technology, for I consider them nerdy weak points of mine. I am thinking that the fact that I know what computer codes are, without being able to use them, helped me out. The history/literature one I am quite proud of--I mean, those are my majors! I think I should be able to use this when I apply to grad school. The dork one makes me happy. This explains why I always stare at my shoes during face-to-face conversations. ^^

Now tell me, my dear nerd friends, what qualifies you as a nerd? And how did you score? *awaits fellow nerd scores happily* :D

P.S. My fellow grammar geeks will savor this meditation upon the dreaded alot. Enjoy!